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By W. Gardner Selby July 27, 2015

Abbott's promised 'Reading-to-Learn' academies passed into law

It makes sense, candidate Greg Abbott said, that reading is central to learning.

To advance on that front, Abbott called for the state to spend $15 million a year on special high-quality training in reading instruction for teachers of fourth- and fifth-grade students. The Reading-to-Learn Academies would help teachers "master the tenets of careful and consistent systematic reading instruction," Abbott said in his compendium of campaign vows.

Responding to Gov. Abbott's call, the 2015 Legislature signed off on Senate Bill 972, authored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, directing the state education commissioner to develop such academies. The measure's fiscal note said the project would cost $11 million the first two years and about $8 million every two years after that. The up-front cost reflect the Texas Education Agency's estimate it would cost an initial additional $3 million to develop the training materials.

According to the note, the agency said that each academy would last three days with each participating teacher fielding a $125 daily stipend. Some 25 percent of the state's grade 4 and 5 teachers would attend an academy the first year, the fiscal note says.

Abbott signed the proposal into law in May 2015. He also approved the 2016-17 state budget providing the $11 million in initial funding and authorizing the agency to add a position to implement the academies.

We're marking this an Abbott Promise KEPT.

Promise Kept — Promises earn this rating when the original promise is mostly or completely fulfilled.

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