Texas: What is House Bill 1605?

What is House Bill (HB) 1605? 

HB 1605, passed by the Texas Legislature in May 2023, is an important bill that affects education in Texas. It aims to provide teachers with grade-level, department-vetted resources and instructional materials aligned to state standards. Instructional materials include scope and sequences, textbooks, lessons, and aligned curriculum-based assessments, among other key provisions.

The bill provides an additional $324 million in funding on top of the existing Instructional Materials and Allotment Funding (IMA) to support access to materials and the cost of associated printing. The bill establishes a new approval process that provides additional oversight for the state’s Open Education Resources (OER). Additionally, the bill requires new parent portals into the curricular materials to create transparency for families and guardians.

The bill does not mandate a set of curricular materials, support one vendor over another, or prevent districts from working with vendors already approved by their local board, or require only print-based materials. Instead, it creates additional sources of funding, though this additional funding can only be spent on TEA-reviewed and approved materials. 

Want to know why HB 1605 now, and how it can impact your LEA? Let’s dig in.

Background on Instructional Materials in Texas Before HB 1605

Before Senate Bill 6 in 2011, the State Board of Education approved all textbooks and instructional material in the state of Texas. TX SB6 introduced the Instructional Materials and Technology Allotment (IMA). From 2011 to 2023, funds were allocated from the state directly to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to select their own materials and broadened the purchasing eligibility from a very narrow definition of “materials” – textbooks – to a wide variety of instructional materials, including online resources. The only standing requirement was that the curricular materials covered 100% of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).  

With schools trying to close the gaps in learning widened by the COVID-19 pandemic, TEA and the State Board of Education introduced House Bill 1605 to review the new market of curricular offerings introduced to Texas since 2011.  While state testing is showing moderate learning gains, the hope from the state department is that thorough review can provide LEAs with their opinions on strong options and provide curriculum publishers with clear rubrics for strong instructional materials.

What does this mean for your LEA or school? 

Overview of HB 1605: What is The Additional Funding and What Is It For? 

HB 1605 has a few important provisions that we will cover more in-depth in the next section. Most importantly, HB 1605 adds new funding for state-approved materials but does not remove existing funding LEAs have with the Instructional Materials and Technology Allotment (IMA). 

Instead,  the State Board of Education will combine an approval process with the Texas Resource Review and a rubric. The state will release a compliance statement and review process that all instructional materials providers and publishers must undertake if they want to be added to the list of approved high-quality instructional materials. 

The state plans to use third-party evaluators alongside teachers to determine whether the curriculum meets the criteria for high-quality instructional materials (HQIM). Rubrics and the review process will be developed and presented to SBOE for approval by the spring of 2024. By late fall of 2024, the State Board of Education plans to release its first batch of approved materials, with a focus on K-3 phonics, K-5 English Language Arts and Reading, K-12 math, and K-12 science. 

Key Provisions of HB 1605: High-Quality Instructional Materials, Ending 3-Queuing System, and Teacher Preparation Periods 

There are a few separate provisions that makeup HB 1605. The first is, as discussed in the first two sections of this blog, the return of an approval process for instructional materials to the State Board of Education (SBOE). 

Not only does the material need to be 100% TEKS aligned, but in the coming year all 1605-approved curricula need to be free from factual error, suitable for grade and subject, have both physical and electronic pieces, include a vocabulary list from the state and at least one literary work per grade level. Early literacy should focus on phonics and must not use a three-cueing system and instead must use research-based best practices for phonics and early reading instruction. 

Additionally, all curricular materials need to come with a parent portal for enrolled parents to access curricular materials and provide additional transparency to caretakers. Parents can further request local curriculum reviews with SBOE approval.

HB 1605 also includes a provision that specifies that teachers cannot be required to use bi-weekly planning time to create initial instructional materials unless there is an additional duty agreement.

There is additional clarity around purchasing materials: LEAs that do adopt one of the upcoming approved curricular materials list will be exempt from the Request for Approval (RFP) process. New curricular materials can and will be added each year, allowing for a wide variety of curricular materials in not only the four core content areas but supplemental areas of instruction as well. 

Implications for Schools and Districts

As high-quality instructional materials and resources are approved and added to a living list, districts will continue to receive additional funding. LEAs will start to receive $40 per student for the purpose of purchasing State Board of Education-approved materials in 2024, with an additional up to $20 for printing costs associated with Open Educational Resources available as well.

Schools and LEAs will not be penalized for not using SBOE-approved materials. If a product does not show up on the high-quality instructional materials (HQIM) list, a district can still use IMA funds to purchase with the approval from their local board. Nor does the new 1605 funding disappear if a school or LEA does not use their funds each year; rather, unspent balances roll over to the following year.

For example, if an LEA selects a math curriculum from the SBOE High-Quality Instructional Materials list in 2024, they will receive $40 per pupil in addition to the existing IMA funding to purchase new materials. The next year, with a new grade band and subject area rolled out by the SBOE, there will be an additional $40 per student added to the funding for purchasing materials. 

According to TEA, if a district’s chosen materials are not on the approved list and they choose to wait to see if the curricular materials make it, the money stays with the LEA, and the funds accumulate as long as new instructional materials are being added to the list of approved materials, including for supplemental subjects and non-core subject areas.

Finally, the SBOE will also create standard terms and conditions for publishers to ensure transparency between the curricular materials and districts. 

The Highlights of HB 1605 and Why It Matters 

HB 1605 is a long and complex bill, but it can be broken down into the following key points:

  • Schools and LEAs can choose to keep their existing curriculum regardless of whether or not it passes the SBOE High-Quality Instructional Material threshold, and current per-pupil funding will not diminish for existing curricula. 
  • If a school or LEA chooses to adopt new, SBOE-approved material, there is an additional $40 per pupil of funding available. 
  • That funding does not go away if it is not used within the adoption time frame (right now, 2024-2029). 
  • The bill makes some additional requirements of curriculum including vocabulary lists, a literary work in each grade level, and a parent portal. 
  • The bill allows SBOE to standardize terms and conditions across publishers 
  • The bill protects teachers’ bi-weekly planning. 
  • The bill prohibits three-cueing in early literacy and ensures that all curriculum passed by the SBOE is appropriate instructionally for each grade level and is fully aligned to the TEKS. 

HB 1605 can be confusing on first read, but it doesn’t have to be! More information can be found on the Progress Learning blog or by going through the TEA website

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