5.18.2021

YOUR DISTRICT SHOULD CONSIDER A COHORT LEADER - HERE'S WHY

As mentioned in my previous blog posting Comprehensive vs. Blended: Which Reading Academies Model Should Your District Choose, I discussed two Reading Academy delivery methods.  Within selecting a specific delivery method for content, TEA allows districts to select a 'Cohort Leader' to locally implement your reading academies content without relying on the Authorized Provider to provide a cohort leader.  This leader works within the district (employed by the district, not the Authorized Provider) and is responsible for delivering the content, artifact grading, teacher walkthroughs, coaching cycles, attending TEA and Authorized Provider training, and reporting grade finalization. Remember, in an earlier post, I equated the Reading Academies to a college-level course; therefore, the cohort leader is like the college professor.  They deliver the content, grade, and meet all requirements that are set for the academies. Now that you may be interested in finding a cohort leader for your district let's talk about the process that has been set forth to become a cohort leader.

📣  The process of becoming a cohort leader:

-  There is a short "pre-screener" required before advancing to the regular screener modules in Canvas.

- The participant registers for the screener (note: there are set dates called "screener windows" by                 TEA; therefore, one cannot just register and take the screener whenever they choose).

- Participants must take the TEA Cohort Leader Screener (approximately 3-5 hours to complete) (screener is housed in Canvas and a 7-day window to get the screener complete).

- Pass/Fail notifications are sent out to the participants upon completing the 7-day window and grading     the screener artifacts (an 80% or higher is set as a passing score on each section of the screener).'

- Upon notification of passing the cohort screener, one can become a  cohort leader TEA Reading Academies cohort leader 🎉.

- Once the participant passes the screener and is employed, they will have to attend the initial 3-day TEA cohort leader training to learn content and implementation.

📣  5 Key reasons why your district should get a cohort leader:

  1. Control the delivery of content (dates/time) with no travel to the authorized provider location.
  2. All of your staff will be guaranteed to be in the same cohort with the same cohort leader.
  3. Can have co-leaders under the cohort leader to assist with walkthroughs and coaching (i.e., instructional coaches - note: they must also pass the cohort screener to be a co-leader).
  4. Creates a cohesive and consistent implementation model with streamlined communication from the district and cohort leader.
  5. Easy access to check the progress of participants for successful completion.

⌦ Do The Math

Finally, if your district is considering comprehensive, a cohort leader is finically the way to go! Sending participants from your district to an authorized provider, the cost is $3,000 per participant! So, let's do the math together!

Example using 25 participants
Using an Authorized Provider:
$3,000 per participant X 25 participants = $75,000 to be paid to an authorized provider from the district for comprehensive reading academies.

Implementing locally and hiring a cohort leader:
 25 participants = $12,000 set yearly fee paid to the authorized provider from the district
 Salary of the cohort leader - let's say $50,000 - $55,000 (not including any benefits the district may offer)
 You are saving $5,000 
    *Note the more participants in your local cohort, the more cost savings that occur.

Smaller districts may choose to use a cohort leader the first two years to get a bulk of their teachers trained and partner with an authorized provider to maximize their cost savings. 

Finally, smaller districts may get creative and benefit by banding together and creating a consortium. For example, three small districts are within 20 -30 minutes of each other. They would like to locally implement, but it is not finically possible to have a cohort leader. These three districts can create a consortium and hire one cohort leader to serve all three of their districts. One district serves as the financial agent while the other two pay into the district for the authorized provider fee and salary agreed upon for the cohort leader. Banding together is a great financial option for smaller districts! 

I hope this posting has provided you with cohort leader information to consider when Reading Academy planning occurs in your district for the 2021-2022 school year! 

5.06.2021

COMPREHENSIVE VS. BLENDED: WHICH READING ACADEMIES MODEL SHOULD YOUR DISTRICT CHOSE?



Selecting and implementing the HB3 Reading Academy model has been one of the most challenging decisions for school districts. Questions you may be asking as a team are: What model should we choose? Will our teachers be successful? How much will it cost? Will we have time built into our school calendar? What trainings may need to occur off contract? The list can go on and on.


Here is how the process works. 


Decision #1: Selecting an Authorized Provider

TEA screened and selected what is called Authorized Providers (AP). The company or, for most areas, the regional service center must meet specific criteria to be chosen as an authorized provider. The AP will have to accept full responsibility for administering the reading academies, provide staffing, cover travel, operational expenses, provide technology as needed, and decide upon the cost of services. Becoming an AP is an undertaking as it does require a financial commitment. Larger-sized districts may choose to become authorized provided if the responsibility of the requirements can be provided. 


Decision #2: Local Implementation vs. Using the AP

School districts work with their selected AP to decide how they will implement the Reading Academies. Districts must decide if they will implement their Reading Academies locally or depend upon the authorized to provide all services.  


Suppose a district is selected to implement locally. In that case, they must enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the AP, become responsible for staffing, deliver the curriculum, provide technical support and logistical support. The cost for this option is $12,000 per coach for comprehensive or $10,000 per blended facilitator.  A cohort leader will need to be hired within the district to deliver the material and complete the AP and TEA requirements.


A district may implement both the blended and comprehensive models locally. If a district is not wanting to take on this specific responsibility, it would have to enter into a financial agreement with the chosen AP. The AP would then provide all services, and the district is responsible for sending teachers OR embedding time for training. The cost for this option is $3,000 per participant for comprehensive and $400 per participant for blended. 


Decision #3: Comprehensive vs. Blended

The comprehensive model delivers content face-to-face by the selected coach. The comprehensive leaders are known to be full-time positions and can only have 60 participants per cohort. The leader attends training, meetings with TEA, meetings with the AP, conducts in-person walkthroughs, four coaching cycles with each participant (two in the fall and two in the spring), along with monitors the LMS (canvas), pre-grades submitted artifacts, and serves as a moderated grader. The beauty of this model is the district has control (if implementing locally) to decide upon training dates to ensure all participants are completing the required content. 


The blended model delivers content via the LMS (canvas) that is monitored by the facilitator. Leaders of the blended cohort may have up to 100 participants per cohort. It is estimated to take approximately twelve hours per week per cohort. According to TEA, to have a full-time facilitator for the blended model, the leader would be able to take on a maximum of three cohorts (300 participants total). Utilizing this model requires less financial responsibility on the district; however, it is essential to know that the content is still the same as delivered in the comprehensive; therefore, dedicated time must be scheduled for participants to complete the required work. A common myth regarding this cohort is that the modules can be completed at the participant's own pace.


Making these three decisions will significantly impact your district, teacher learning, as well as the success of students' reading. Consider and map out all options, and at the end of the day, consider what model best fits your district. 

4.29.2021

READING ACADEMIES CONTENT OVERVIEW: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

 





One of the trending topics regarding the HB3 Reading Academies upon reading specialist would be content. In the school year 2019-2020, TEA piloted the Reading Academies by hosting the "Read Grant" through regional service centers. School districts could "opt" to participate with teachers in first through fifth grades. The regional centers hired reading specialists to pilot the HB3 Reading Academies with teacher cohort groups on a smaller scale. Little did many know participating, but TEA did award all participants who completed the grant with HB3 certificates exempting them from participating in the HB3 Reading Academies the following school year.   


I mention the back story because it is part of the process where the content initially developed. During the Read Grant year, the content was given to specialists for delivery and then adjusted for the following release of the academies. 


TEA then released their Content Overview one-pager for the 2020-2021 school year to lay out the Science of Teaching Reading and content included in the new HB3 Reading Academies. Here is the list of content in the original order.


• Introduction, Overview, Scope, and Sequence 

• Science of Teaching Reading 

• Establishing a Literacy Community 

• Using Assessment Data to Inform Instruction 

• Oral Language (English and Spanish) 

• Phonological Awareness (English and Spanish) 

• Alphabet Knowledge, Print Concepts, and Handwriting 

• Decoding, Encoding, and Word Study (English and Spanish) 

• Reading Fluency 

• Reading Comprehension 

• Composition (English and Spanish) 

• Tiered Supports and Reading Difficulties


After the first year of HB3 Reading Academies, the content and sequence will shift slightly. Here is what we expect as of now:


• Introduction, Overview, Scope, and Sequence 

• Science of Teaching Reading 

• Establishing a Literacy Community 

• Using Data to Inform Instruction & Tiered Levels of Support

• Oral Language and Vocabulary

• Phonological Awareness

• Pre-Reading Skills

• Decoding, Encoding, and Word Study

• Reading Fluency 

• Reading Comprehension 

• Written Composition

• Putting It All Together


Next, many wonder how the content is delivered. TEA has partnered with Instructure to utilize their platform called Canvas LMS (learning management system). Canvas will house the content, submissions, and discussion boards. They break the content down into modules. For example, Establishing a Literacy Community is an entire module in canvas. If the district has chosen to do the comprehensive delivery style, this would be approximately three hours of in-person training (about a half of a day). Participants in the Reading Academies will complete the required training and have pre-work, discussion boards, and two artifacts to submit for moderated grading (one in the fall and one in the spring). Finally, it is essential to note that completing the HB3 Reading Academies has been equivalent to approximately 60 hours of content and rigorous such as enrolling in a master's level course.


Phrases to Note Related to the RA Training:

  • Reading Academies training is not a "sit and get" style of training.
  • Reading Academies training is not a "workshop."
  • Training build upon each other and is expected to be implemented into daily classroom instruction.
  • Pre-Work is a real thing = it must be completed.
  • Artifacts are not "optional."
  • "Life-Time" certificates are not exempted from the RA training.
  • Graduate level college courses do not exempt staff from the RA training.

It is vital to communicate the expectations to your staff as they enter into their Reading Academies training. Knowing what is expected helps participants plan as well as understand the whole concept of the HB3 Reading Academies. 


Here is an example of the SMORE I have used the past two school years to communicate information to my staff via a Reading Academies "Kick-Off" Call using Google Hangout. 


Click here for my 2021-2022 School Year SMORE link for staff Kick-Off call.


Completion Certificates and Tracker:


Finally, what you are not told at the start is about completion certificates. Once participants in the HB3 Reading Academies have successfully met all training requirements, they will be given an HB3 certificate directly from TEA housed in their TEAL account. Districts will need to ask for completion certificates to keep on file, ensuring all staff in K-3 have completed the reading academies. It has been asked if school districts can have access to certificates to pull, but currently, this is not an option. 


With teachers entering in the Reading Academies in various school years, I developed a quick tracker to help know who has completed the mandated training and who has not.  See below the training tracker.


CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE HB3 READING ACADEMIES TRACKER


I hope this gives you the birds-eye view of the HB3 Reading Academies. I wish you the best of luck in implementing the academies in your district or campus! 

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