Three-Day Reading and Math Academies Offer $350 Stipends for Teachers

In the 2015 session of the Texas Legislature, Texas AFT backed bills to revive and expand a good program of professional development that died out for lack of funding a decade or so ago—the reading academies that helped teachers update their skills during the summer while receiving a stipend. Those bills were passed, necessary funds were provided, and now the renewed program, expanded to include math academies as well, is ready for implementation this summer.

The Texas Education Agency accordingly has shared details with school districts regarding the relaunch of the academies. The April 7 TEA announcement of the program’s revival said “the academies will provide high-quality, face-to-face professional development to elementary-level public school teachers.”

TEA elaborated:

Passed during the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015 and signed into law by Gov. Abbott, Senate Bill 925 established literacy achievement academies for teachers who provide reading instruction to students at the kindergarten through third grade level. Senate Bill 972 established reading-to-learn academies for teachers who provide reading comprehension instruction to students at the fourth or fifth grade level.

In addition, Senate Bill 934 established mathematics achievement academies for teachers who provide mathematics instruction to students at the kindergarten through third grade level.

TEA will work with the 20 regional Education Service Centers to launch the first of these academies in the summer. Three-day academies for Kindergarten Reading, Grade 1 Reading, Grade 2 Mathematics and Grade 3 Mathematics will take place this summer. Academies for Grade 2 Reading, Grade 3 Reading, Grade 4 Reading, Grade 5 Reading and Kindergarten/Grade 1 Mathematics will take place next summer in 2017.

The Texas Legislature appropriated funding to pay stipends to eligible teachers who successfully complete these academies. TEA is required to grant priority for academy participation and stipend eligibility to teachers employed at campuses where 50 percent or more of the students enrolled are educationally disadvantaged (eligible to participate in the national free or reduced-price lunch program). A teacher who successfully completes an academy will be eligible to receive a $350 stipend.