Each year the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) sets the textbook market for the nation and often the English-speaking world, by issuing proclamations calling for publishers to submit instructional materials for review. These materials become the curriculum used to teach tens of thousands of Texas public school students, and because of the size of the Texas market, by extension tens of thousands of students in other states. Just like environmental regulations in California can lead automakers to design cars for the entire world to make sure they are acceptable in the California market; educational publishers frequently design their textbooks to meet the requirements of the SBOE. This year, the SBOE will be changing the landscape of early childhood education with Proclamation 2021.
The SBOE issued Proclamation 2021 in June of 2019. The SBOE clarified the proclamation language last month when they adopted a clarifying amendment suggested by the Texas Education Agency to make technical revisions necessary for compliance with legislation from the 86th Texas Legislature. The proclamation calls for bids to furnish instructional materials for English and Spanish prekindergarten systems. Instructional material is “content that conveys the essential knowledge and skills of a subject in the public-school curriculum through a medium, or a combination of media, for conveying information to a student.”1 Publishers were allowed to submit new or existing instructional materials in response to the proclamation as long as the materials had been aligned with the revised Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines (TPG).
The TPG are made up of 10 skill domains: social and emotional development, language and communication, emergent literacy reading, emergent literacy writing, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, physical development, and technology. For each domain of the TPG, the submitted prekindergarten system must cover at least 50% of the end-of-year outcomes to be eligible for adoption. Materials also must be reviewed by an academic expert and be deemed suitable for the subject and grade level in which it was intended. Publishers had until January 6, 2020 to file a Statement of Intent to Bid for each product for each course.
The next steps came in early February when publishers had to submit a complete description, or information regarding each component that will be used to demonstrate standards alignment. Once complete, the systems themselves will be submitted to state review panels created by TEA from qualified applicants from the early childhood education community. The panels will then review all instructional materials submitted and identify the extent to which they meet the required TPG. Once the review is complete, the findings will be reported to the commissioner of education who will use the information as the basis for his report to the SBOE regarding instructional materials eligible for adoption. The SBOE is scheduled to vote on Proclamation 2021 materials in November of 2020. The instructional materials that are approved by the SBOE will be available for adoption by districts in the 2021-22 school year.
Proclamation 2021 is a result of the unprecedented investment in prekindergarten and kindergarten systems in House Bill 3. Publishers with materials under consideration for adoption include; Benchmark Education, Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Children’s Literacy Initiative, EDUSPARK, Inc., Footsteps2Brilliance, Inc., Frog Street, HighScope Educational Research Foundation, Kaplan Early Learning Company, Learning without Tears, QuaverEd, Robert-Leslie Publishing, The Early Childhood Company, Savvas Learning Company, LLC., Scholastic, Inc., Teaching Strategies, LLC., and TPS Publishing, Inc. While it may appear a small step on the road to high-quality early childhood education for Texas, because of the role Texas plays in steering the worldwide textbook market, Proclamation 2021 is a giant leap forward in bringing high-quality curriculum to pre-k and kindergarten classrooms across America.
by Lillian Kyle