After announcing a set of changes scheduled for the third year of the Reading Academies in 2022-23,TEA recently shared information on how it will provide more flexibility for educators.
- A shorter “demonstrated proficiency course” for eligible teachers: The first change described by TEA provides that school districts may allow certain teachers to attempt to demonstrate knowledge that exempts them from having to take the regular full Reading Academy program. According to TEA, certain eligible teachers would instead be able to participate in a “demonstrated proficiency course”, comprised of passing a prescreening exam (similar to a cohort leader exam) and completing three artifacts (similar to cohort leader artifacts). TEA will provide several windows during the 2022-23 school year for these teachers to enroll in a demonstrated proficiency course. Eligible teachers are those who have:
- an advanced understanding of the science of teaching reading;
- a proven track record of consistently high student proficiency;
- outstanding teacher performance on evaluations; and
- a written recommendation from a district administrator to the authorized provider.
Teachers who pass the demonstrated proficiency course on the first attempt won’t be required to enroll in a regular Reading Academy program. Teachers who don’t pass on the first attempt will have to re-enroll in a regular full Reading Academy program before the end of the 2022-23 school year.
- A shortened pathway for teachers passing the Science of Teaching Reading exam: Another change is that there will be a new STR-certified pathway for teachers who pass the Science of Teaching Reading (STR) exam. The STR exam is required for the issuance of intern, probationary, and standard certifications for the following certification fields beginning Jan. 1, 2021:
- Core Subjects: EC-6,
- Core Subjects: 4-8,
- English Language Arts and Reading: 4-8, or
- English Language Arts and Social Studies: 4-8
Teachers who are currently standard certified in the above certification fields will not be required to pass the STR exam for renewal of their certificate. The STR exam requirement only impacts candidates seeking certification after Jan. 1, 2021, according to TEA.
In developing the new pathway, TEA will identify the content from each of the 12 Reading Academy modules that these teachers will need to complete (i.e. just the instructional chapters, not the knowledge-building chapters.) Accordingly, this pathway will require fewer hours than the regular full Reading Academy program. Teachers in this pathway will still have to complete the required artifacts. Finally, it’s ultimately the district’s decision whether to provide for STR certified teachers to take the STR-certified pathway or the regular full Reading Academy program.
- Additional time to complete academies due to extenuating circumstances: According to TEA, additional time to complete Reading Academies will be available in the following circumstances:
- For individual participants, additional time is needed to complete the academy due to extenuating circumstances, which is subject to review and approval by TEA after a request is submitted by the authorized provider.
- For entire cohorts, additional time can be granted if a cohort leader is willing and available to support the cohort during the additional time, all cohort participants wish to pause and receive additional time, and a plan and schedule is established for completion of the academy after the pause.
- Streamlined content to ensure actual seat time matches projected seat time: According to TEA, some content will become optional instead of required. For example, Module 3 (How to build a literacy community) will be decreased from three hours to one hour. Additionally, certain modules discussions and activities will be streamlined to ensure estimated hours reflect learner experiences. Finally, additional information will be moved to handouts and/or the participant notebook.
- More time for cohort leaders to support participants: For the 2022-23 school year, cohort leaders will no longer be grading artifacts; rather, TEA will contract with an outside entity to grade artifacts, with the goal of freeing up cohort leaders to provide additional support to participants, especially in the draft submission of artifacts.
- Better support for teachers: In an effort to shore up district support of teachers in completing Reading Academies, TEA said it will share best practices used by some districts in implementing Reading Academies. Some initial examples of best practices highlighted by TEA include:
- District scheduling in which districts allow up to six module to be completed in the summer to reduce the amount of content participants were required to complete during the school year.
- Embedding 60 hours of dedicated time to complete Reading Academies into the master Professional Development calendar.
- Building dedicated time into the calendar for artifact support.
- Planning for substitute teachers to cover classrooms so that teachers can participate in Reading Academies during class time.
- Offering stipends to teachers in recognition of the time and commitment required to complete the Reading Academies.
Again, these changes are just in the initial stages of development and won’t be available until the 2022-23 school year. As TCTA receives more information about these changes, we will let our members know.