Chloe Latham SikesBy Chloe Latham Sikes, Ph.D. • Knowledge is Power • February 12, 2024 •

The Texas State Board of Education recently held its first quarterly meeting of the year. Among its three-day agenda, the board approved rubrics to assess instructional materials as required by House Bill (HB) 1605, passed by the legislature last spring.

HB 1605 instituted new state guidelines for reviewing and adopting classroom instructional materials. It includes incentives for these materials to comply with Texas’ censorship law (Senate Bill 3) of 2021. Read more in our legislative recap from the summer newsletter.

HB 1605 carries out the censorship law by requiring rubrics with specific criteria to assess quality and suitability of any state-approved instructional materials. The state board approved these rubrics at last week’s meeting.

The quality rubric pertains to learning standards and content rigor in grades K-3 and 4-8 English language arts, K-3 and 4-6 Spanish language arts, and K-12 math. Other subject rubrics will be taken up in future meetings.

However, the suitability rubric applies to all subjects across all grades and inscribes the “prohibited concepts” from the censorship law as assessment criteria, among other criteria. This means that, as state-selected reviewers and the state board assess classroom instructional materials for approval, they will check that the materials comply with each prohibition against teaching aspects of race, sex and gender, elements of history deemed accurate, and current events (see IDRA’s guide to SB 3).

Public school districts and charter schools do not have to exclusively use state-approved materials, but HB 1605 confers additional per-student funding to those that do. This means that schools are financially incentivized to use censored instructional materials.

Schools will have access to the state-approved instructional materials list starting with the 2025-26 school year.

[© 2024, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the February 12, 2024, edition of Knowledge is Power by IDRA. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]