TEA Releases Newly Developed Free Textbooks for Review

Texas Education Agency Logo | Image by Texas Education Agency
Texas Education Agency Logo | Image by Texas Education Agency

The Texas Education Agency has released to the public the free textbooks it developed for the Texas State Board of Education’s review.

Revealed by TEA on Wednesday morning, the new Open Education Resources (OER) textbooks, created and owned by the state, are intended to improve student academic outcomes in mathematics and elementary literacy.

“Texas OER textbooks are specifically designed for Texas schools and are aligned with the state standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS),” reads a news release issued by the TEA.

“These resources were developed using the best evidence from cognitive science to ensure teachers have access to quality, on-grade-level materials that enable teachers to focus on delivering the highest-quality instruction and providing differentiated supports to students. The ‘open’ nature of Texas OER textbooks means they are owned by the state, made available free to anyone, and can be modified over time to make them better for students and teachers.”

The instructional materials are now available to Texans for the duration of a public comment period that will run until Friday, August 16, when the State Board of Education (SBOE) will review the feedback and include it in its deliberations.

To weigh in on the two new OER textbooks, “OER K-5 Reading & Language Arts” and “OER K-8/Algebra Mathematics,” please submit a comment here.

SBOE is conducting its own review of the textbooks and is expected to vote on them in November. If approved, the OER textbooks will be made officially available for school districts to utilize if they choose. They will also continue to be accessible to the public for optional use by teachers and oversight by parents or guardians at home.

The creation of the OER instructional materials is part of an initiative launched by Texas lawmakers under HB 1605 to ensure all Texas students are given the means to attain a high standard of education.

“Last year, the Texas Legislature passed and I signed a law that directed the Texas Education Agency to purchase and develop instructional materials that will bring students back to the basics of education and provide the necessary fundamentals in math, reading, science, and other core subjects,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release.

“The materials will also allow our students to better understand the connection of history, art, community, literature, and religion on pivotal events like the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the Civil Rights Movement, and the American Revolution. I thank the TEA for their work to ensure our students receive a robust educational foundation to succeed so that we can build a brighter Texas for generations to come.”

Closing the learning gaps arising after lockdown measures forced schools online during the COVID-19 pandemic has become a primordial concern for education authorities and nonprofits alike. As recently reported in The Dallas Express, studies have suggested that learning losses were most pronounced amongst students whose schools went fully remote.

For example, Dallas ISD’s student achievement outcomes have been lackluster, with just 41% of students scoring at grade level on the STAAR exam in the 2021-2022 school year, according to TEA’s accountability report. Meanwhile, nearly 20% of the graduating Class of 2022 failed to earn a diploma within four years.

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