Since it was passed by the 86th legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2019, Texas House Bill 3 (HB3) has already resulted in significant implications for all educators and school districts across the state. One of the main goals of this historic law is to prioritize early literacy and improve student reading outcomes, partly based on some startling data in the Texas Commission on Public School Finance report:
Only 58% of Texas students currently come to school Kindergarten ready, and in 2018 only 4 in 10 students met the state’s 3rd grade reading standard.
Per the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, Texas children rank 46th in the country in 4th grade reading proficiency.
As a Texas educator, you may have already begun to feel some of the many changes HB3 brings with it. One of the biggest HB3 changes, as many are already very aware, is that all K-3 teachers and principals are required to attend year-long reading academies that cover the science of teaching reading; many of you most likely got to participate in a reading academy this past school year (even with the worldwide COVID19 pandemic). According to the bill, all K-3 teachers and principals must complete a reading academy by school year 2022-2023. In addition, school districts are required to offer full-day Prekindergarten for all eligible 4-year-olds, use reading diagnostic instruments approved by the Commissioner in grades PK-2, and prioritize placement of highly effective teachers in grades K-2. Additionally, school boards are required to adopt and monitor literacy and math proficiency plans and ensure the use of a phonics curriculum using systematic, direct instruction in grades K-3.
In their Reading Practices HB3 presentation (page 38-39), TEA provides further guidance on what a systematic, explicit phonics curriculum should include:
Though it brings a lot of changes during a difficult time in history, prioritizing early literacy and reading instruction is crucial for Texas students. For more information on HB3, we definitely recommend checking out the HB3 in 30 Video Series created by the Texas Education Agency. Each component of the bill is explained thoroughly in a brief video (30 minutes or less) and includes a PDF of the presentation.
Should you need a TEKS-aligned phonics curriculum that provides systematic, explicit instruction, please check out our phonics resources here.
Please feel free to leave us a comment below if you have any questions. We hope you all have a fantastic school year!
~Heather Watson East
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