Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 955
By: Bivins
Public Education


Last session, Governor George W. Bush launched the Texas Reading
Initiative. The Ready to Read Initiative complements the Texas Reading
Initiative by targeting low-income preschool children and equipping them
with pre-reading skills needed for long-term academic success.  S.B. 955
establishes a competitive grant program designed to allow a public or
private preschool to provide scientific, research-based pre-reading
instruction designed to improve a student's pre-reading skills and also to
identify cost-effective models for pre-reading instruction. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


SECTION 1.  Amends Subchapter E, Chapter 29, Education Code, by adding
Section 29.155, as follows: 

Sec. 29.155.  READY TO READ GRANTS.  (a)  Requires the commissioner of
education (commissioner) to make grants as provided by this section in
support of pre-reading instruction from funds appropriated for that

(b) Requires the commissioner to establish a competitive grant program for
distribution of at least 95 percent of the available funds.  Requires
grants to be used to provide scientific, research-based, pre-reading
instruction to improve pre-reading skills and to identify cost-effective
models for pre-reading intervention.  Requires the commissioner to
distribute grants to eligible entities in amounts between $50,000 and
$150,000 to be used for professional staff development in pre-reading
instruction; pre-reading curriculum, materials, and skills assessment
materials; and employment of pre-reading instructors. 

(c)  Provides that a public school operating a prekindergarten program, or
an eligible entity defined in Section 12.101(a) (Authorization), Education
Code, that provides preschool instruction and which meets the
commissioner's qualifications, is eligible to apply for a grant, provided
at least 75 percent of the children enrolled in the program are low-income
students, as determined by the commissioner's rule. 

Section 12.101(a), Education Code, defines "eligible entity" as one of the
following: an institution of higher education, including a private or
independent institution of higher education, as defined under Section
61.003, (Definitions), Education Code; an organization exempt from taxation
under Section 501(c)(3) (Exemption From Tax On Corporations, Certain
Trusts, Etc.), 26 U.S.C. (Internal Revenue Code); or a governmental entity. 

(d)  Provides that an applicant must commit public or private funds
matching the grant in a percentage set by the commissioner in order to
receive a grant.  Requires the commissioner to determine the required
percentage of matching funds based on the  demonstrated economic capability
of the community served by the program to raise funds to match the grants,
as determined by the commissioner.  Stipulates that matching funds must
equal between 30 and 75 percent of the grant amount. 

(e)  Requires the commissioner to develop and implement performance
measures for evaluating the effectiveness of grants under this section.
Provides that those measures must correlate to other reading diagnostic
assessments used in public schools in kindergarten through the second

(f)  Authorizes the commissioner to adopt rules as necessary to administer
this section. 

SECTION 2.  Requires the commissioner, to the extent practicable,  to
administer the grant program as established by this Act in a way that is
consistent with other reading programs the commissioner identifies as
components of the governor's reading initiative. 

SECTION 3.  Effective date:  September 1, 1999.

SECTION 4.  Emergency clause.