Posts Tagged "Texas"

What School Board Members Need to Know When Selecting Instructional Materials [with Infographic]

20150417 SchoolBoard2‘Tis the season for selecting instructional materials.  Board members often ask me what questions they should be asking during their district’s selection process. Below are five important facts for Texas school board members to keep in mind and seven key questions to ask as the board considers the district’s proposed list of instructional materials.

Five Facts For Texas School Board Members Regarding Selecting Instructional Materials:

  • Selecting instructional materials is ultimately the board’s responsibility. (Texas Education Code § 31.104(a), Policy CMD(Legal)) 
  • Districts do NOT have to purchase only state-adopted materials with IMA funds. (Texas Education Code (TEC) §31.0211(c-d); Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §66.1307(c); Policy CMD (Legal))
  • Instructional materials (except state-adopted materials) are subject to competitive procurement laws.  (Local Govt. Code §271.054; §271.064)
  • Just because a material is “state-adopted” does NOT necessarily mean that it is aligned to 100% of the TEKS; and just because it is not state-adopted does not mean it is inferior. (TEC§ 31.023). Bottom line: to get the best value, districts must comparison shop for their instructional materials. 


  • The board has a legal obligation to ensure that the district is in compliance with the 100% Rule. (TEC §31.004; 19 TAC §66.1305; Policy CMD (Legal))

Click here to learn more about the Five Facts.

7 Key Questions final 20150417

[Click the Image to Download]

7 Key Questions for Board Members to Consider When Adopting Instructional Materials

(1) Does your district’s local policy allow the administration to consider both state-adopted and/or non-state adopted materials? If not, how do you know you are getting the best value for your students?

(2) How many materials were considered for each grade/subject being selected?

(3) Did the district engage in a competitive procurement process to select non-adopted or unbundled state-adopted materials?

(4) Were teachers given an opportunity to sample the products recommended for adoption? For online materials, were both tech-savvy and non-tech-savvy teachers asked to review the products?

(5) For online materials, does the district have the per student bandwidth and other technology infrastructure in place to support simultaneous use of the recommended products?

(6) If online materials, how will the district ensure that all students will have access to the product at home, even students who do not have internet access at home?

(7) Does the administration have an alignment report to prove that the recommended materials, either individually or in the aggregate, align to 100% of the TEKS for each grade/subject in the required curriculum, except PE?

[Jackie Lain is Founder and President of Learning List.]

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Can a District Project Instructional Materials Funding?

[Source: TEA]

[Source: TEA]

Earlier this year, we published a blog post that described how the funds for instructional materials in Texas flow from their source to local school districts. In that post, we explained that the instructional materials allotment (IMA) begins at the Permanent School Fund (PSF)—a $30 billion endowment created expressly for the benefit of the public schools of Texas—and flows through the State Board of Education, the state legislature, and the Texas Education Agency before making its way to the local education agencies.

Shortly before the beginning of each biennial legislative session, the State Board of Education (SBOE) determines the annual distribution rate (commonly referred to as the payout) from the PSF for each of the subsequent two budget years. The SBOE sets aside half of this distribution for instructional materials. This is the first step in the process that determines the amount of the IMA that each school district will receive for the purchase of instructional materials.

On September 19, 2014, the SBOE voted to set the distribution rate at 3.5%. As a result, the annual payout from the PSF for the IMA for the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 school years could be as high as $500 million per year. To divide the total payout among all school districts, the commissioner of education has, in previous years, determined each district’s IMA allocation based on the percentage of the total student population served by the district. If the same rationale is used in the coming school years, a district that serves 1% of the total student population of Texas could receive $5 million (1% of $500 million) each year.



Knowing the amount of its IMA allocation for upcoming years can help a district begin planning for its instructional materials purchases. However, in doing so, districts should be aware that the possible amount of the IMA for the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 school years suggested in this post is, at this point, only a projection. There are still several steps yet to be taken in the process that determines the actual amount of the IMA: the SBOE can decide to change the distribution rate at its November 2014 meeting; from (but not limited to) the payout set aside by the SBOE, the state legislature must appropriate the money for the IMA; and, from the amount appropriated, the commissioner of education must determine the per-student allotment for each district.

The total amount of the IMA available to the commissioner and each district’s individual IMA allocation should be known shortly after the end of the legislative session in 2015.

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May Texas School Districts Use Instructional Materials Aligned to the Common Core Standards?

tx_flag1600_01Today, the Texas Attorney General issued the much-anticipated opinion GA 1067, addressing “Use of the Common Core State Standards Initiative by Texas school districts to teach state standards.” We were among the sources asked whether the AG’s opinion prohibits Texas school districts from purchasing instructional materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The Austin American-Statesman has a brief article about the AG’s decision here.

The Question: In December 2013, Senator Dan Patrick, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, asked the Attorney General whether school districts using the Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Common Core Standards”) in any way to teach state standards violate the law [Texas Education Code (TEC) §28.002 (b)(1) – (b)(4)]?” During the 2013 legislative session, Senator Patrick was the senate sponsor of HB 462 which enacted those provisions into law.  Though not asked explicitly, the import of Senator Patrick’s question was whether TEC 28.002 (b)(1)-(b)(4) prohibits Texas districts from using instructional materials that cover the Common Core  Standards.

Current Law:  To understand the meaning of  TEC 28.002(b)(1)-(4), it is important to understand how those provisions fit in with other laws governing the purchase and use of instructional materials by Texas school districts.

  • TEC §31.004 requires Texas school districts to annually certify to the commissioner of education and State Board of Education that they are providing each student with instructional materials that cover 100 percent of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each grade and subject in the required curriculum (except Physical Education).
  • The TEKS are the curriculum standards adopted by the State Board of Education with the goal of preparing Texas students to be ready for college and/or a career when they graduate from high school.
  • State law further requires Texas districts to use their state instructional materials allotment first to purchase instructional materials that cover all of the TEKS (TEC §31.0211(d)). Thus, Texas school districts must use and purchase instructional materials aligned to the TEKS.

The AG’ Opinion: In the last paragraph of the opinion, the Attorney General states that Texas school districts may not use the Common Core Standards to fulfill their legal obligation to teach the TEKS:

The stated intent of the bill [HB 462] was to prohibit the ‘outright adoption of national common core standards’. Accordingly, school districts must not use the Common Core Standards to comply with the requirement to provide instruction in ‘the essential knowledge and skills at appropriate grade levels.’

As to whether Texas districts may use instructional materials that cover the Common Core Standards, the AG states, “The Legislature was aware of the frequent overlap between the TEKS and the Common Core Standards, as evidenced by the bill author’s explanation that it was not his intent ‘to prevent the use of materials where the two standards may overlap.’”

The Answer: Thus, Texas school districts must teach the TEKS and use instructional materials that cover the TEKS. But, according to GA-1067, Texas school districts are not prohibited from using instructional materials that, due to the inherent overlap between different sets of curriculum standards, also cover the Common Core State Standard.

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Where Does Funding for Instructional Materials Come From?

textbooks2Few states make a specific appropriation to districts for the purposes of purchasing instructional materials and/or technology. South Carolina, Florida, and Texas are among the states that do.

In Texas, the funds for the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA) begin at the Permanent School Fund (PSF), which was created by the legislature in 1854 with a $2 million appropriation for the benefit of Texas public schools. By the end of the 2013 fiscal year, the market value of the PSF exceeded $33 billion.

Shortly before the beginning of each biannual legislative session, the State Board of Education (SBOE) determines the annual distribution (or “payout”) from the PSF to the Available School Fund (ASF) for each of the subsequent two budget years. The SBOE sets aside half of this distribution for the Instructional Materials Fund (IMF). The legislature determines the amount of the distribution that is ultimately appropriated for the IMF.

The money in the IMF is used for several different instructional materials-related expenses, such as the cost of shipping adopted instructional materials to districts. The largest portion of the IMF, though, goes to the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA). The commissioner determines the amount of the annual, per-student allocation from the IMA based on the amount of money available in the IMF. For the 2014-2015 school year, approximately 96% of the IMF was used for the IMA.

The ability to trace the flow of IM funds from their source to the local education agencies (LEAs) not only makes for an informed electorate, but also allows those who depend on those funds to estimate future IM allotments and plan for upcoming IM purchases.

In estimating forthcoming allotments and planning for future purchases, however, LEAs should be bear in mind that as funds flow from their source, they pass through the capitol building, and, by the power of appropriation, the state legislature has the final word on the funding of instructional materials.

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Required Listening: NPR’s “The Long Game”

Yesterday afternoon, KERA broadcast Trey Kay’s radio documentary about the culture wars surrounding Texas’ public school curriculum.  The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom provides a rigorous and balanced exploration of the controversies surrounding what is taught in Texas public schools.  As Kay reports:

For more than a half a century, citizens of the Lone Star State have had intense, emotional battles over what children should and should not be taught in public school classrooms. While there have been fights over just about every academic subject, debates over history, evolution, God and country generate the most heat.

“The Long Game” explores the debate over CSCOPE, Texas’ resistance to the Common Core State Standards, and the ongoing battle over biology standards.  Kay’s analysis looks behind the headlines to probe how Texas’ political and religious history has shaped what is taught in the state’s classrooms. If you missed it, you can access the recording here.


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