Relief coming for Reading Academy requirements | TCTA
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Relief coming for Reading Academy requirements

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In response to calls from TCTA and others to reduce the burden on teachers imposed by the state-required Reading Academies, Commissioner of Education Mike Morath recently announced a summary of changes to the program for the 2022-23 school year.

Many of the changes are in response to TCTA urging state policymakers to provide more flexibility in the design of the program. For example, teachers who are unable to complete the program during its 11-month timeframe would be able to complete the part they hadn’t finished, rather than having to start over when joining the next cohort of participants.

The changes also address TCTA’s suggestion that teachers who are required to pass the Science of Teaching Reading Exam be able to substitute that for at least a portion of the Reading Academy program. Additional changes address TCTA’s suggestion of allowing teachers to “test out” of some or all of the Reading Academy program.

Although these changes are just at the announcement stage and have not yet begun to be implemented, they give an important preview of how teachers in the 2022-23 school year might see some relief as follows:

  • Districts may allow certain teachers to attempt to demonstrate knowledge without completing modules first;
  • Teachers who passed the STR exam will not have to complete all reading academies module content;
  • Participants with extenuating circumstances will continue to have additional time to complete academies;
  • Content will be streamlined to ensure actual seat time accurately reflects projected seat time.

The commissioner has already exempted certain teachers from having to complete the Reading Academies, including teachers holding all-level certification in art, health education, music, physical education, speech communication and theater arts, or theater, and allowing teachers who participated in the 2018-19 READ Grant to count their participation toward the Reading Academy requirement. Read more here.

As part of the announced summary of changes, the commissioner continued to reiterate to school districts the importance of supporting teachers in district implementation of the Reading Academies by:

  • structuring their master professional development calendars so that the Reading Academies are embedded within it (rather than teachers having to complete them on their own time);
  • planning for substitute teachers to cover classrooms so that teachers can complete Reading Academies during class time; and,
  • providing teachers with stipends to compensate for their time.

The statutory deadline for all K-3 teachers to complete the Reading Academies was extended during the last legislative session to the end of the 2022-23 school year.

Read more about the upcoming changes.