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By W. Gardner Selby July 27, 2015

Abbott's envisioned math academies for teachers passed into law

Math achievement "academies would consist of four to five days of collaborative, research-based professional development training for math teachers across the state."

While running for governor, Greg Abbott talked up the restoration of reading instruction academies initially carried into law in the 1990s by Gov. George W. Bush. But Abbott also called for the birth of math and technology academies for teachers of students in kindergarten through third grade.

"The academies," Abbott said in his campaign's compendium of promises, "would consist of four to five days of collaborative" research-based "professional development training for math teachers across the state," at a state cost of $15 million a year.

During the 2015 regular legislative session, lawmakers responded to Abbott's call with Senate Bill 934, authored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, requiring the state education commissioner to develop such academies, giving priority to teachers in districts where half or more of the students come from economically disadvantaged households.

Providing mathematics achievement academies to teachers in the grades specified in the bill would result in a cost of $14.3 million in fiscal year 2016 due to initial development costs, $8.5 million in fiscal year 2017, and increasing to approximately $9.0 million in fiscal year 2020.

The Texas Education Agency has estimated the three-day academies would serve 25 percent of the state's eligible teachers the first year with participants provided a daily $125 stipend. The legislation's fiscal note said the academies would cost the state $22.8 million in 2016-17.

Abbott signed SB 934 into law in late May 2015. He also signed into law the 2016-17 budget, which included language directing the state to spend about $22 million over those years to create highly professional, research-based, four-day Math Achievement Academies for teachers of kindergarten through third grade, utilizing a curriculum focused on how to teach core numeracy skills.

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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