Texas’ State Board of Education (SBOE) set new guidelines for reviewing and approving instructional materials to ensure suitability for students. 

As reported by The Dallas Express, the board met from January 30 to February 2 to review and approve a new suitability rubric to set the framework for the new process. 

The new rubric is designed to ensure that government schools across the state adopt “high-quality instructional materials for Texas students” that are appropriate for each grade level. 

The meeting led to the board approving Instructional Materials Review and Approval (IMRA) Quality Rubrics for English and Language Arts for grades K-3 and 4-8, Second Language Acquisition for grades K-3 and 4-6, and Math for grades K-12.

In the rubric, the suitability indicator states that instructional materials align with Texas’ constitutional goal for education: to prepare students for self-governance. This is facilitated by presenting positive aspects of the United States and Texas, as well as promoting citizenship, patriotism, democracy, the benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for recognized authority, and respect for individual rights.

The rubric ensures that the materials do not teach that one race or sex is superior than another, or that an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility, blame, or guilt for actions committed by other members of the same race or sex, and will not include any materials developed through the 1619 Project. 

The rubric also affirms that the materials “should recognize and not contradict that parents have the right to ‘direct the moral and religious training’ of their children and the duty to support their children’s education.”

Additionally, the board also “established how instructional materials will be reviewed as part of IRMA–with the final authority for approvals and criteria resting with the SBOE.”

During the 88th regular Legislative Session, State Rep. Brad Buckley (R-Salado) introduced House Bill 1605, which increased the SBOE’s authority to oversee instructional materials to align better with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standard, improve student outcomes, and keep instructional materials with “obscene or harmful content” out of classrooms. The measure was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in June. 

During a June SBOE meeting—after the measure was signed into law—Buckley addressed the members, saying the new law is an opportunity to benefit students.

Besides approving the IRMA Quality Rubric, in December the board discussed and approved the state’s first-ever mandatory school library collection development standards which apply to all materials in all Texas public school libraries, classroom libraries, and online catalogs.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission developed the standards with input from the State Board of Education in compliance with House Bill 900.

SBOE members voted 13-1 to approve the standards.

The board will reconvene April 9-12, 2024.

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.