Developing a one-stop-shop of educational resources and professional development for more than 8,700 schools, 450,000 educators, 5,000,000 students, and their parents in the state of Texas
Texas has a large K-12 constituency to serve. With more than 1,254 districts in the state, the TEA knew that, in order to provide every district with equal access to high-quality educational materials, they needed a TEKS aligned professional development platform that could be accessed by all the leaders, educators, students, and parents in the state.
Earlier, the TEA attempted to implement a state-wide learning management system that would be freely available to all districts. To their surprise, districts were not quick to adopt, and the state LMS was adding a layer of complexity and additional work to local district administrators.
Some of the obstacles in the way of TEA supporting TEKS-aligned instructional support included:
- Large variances in the level of technology implementation between districts and regions of the state. Some districts had invested heavily in their own LMSs, while others were still in the early stages of incorporating technology into the classroom.
- By choosing an LMS as its delivery platform, the TEA required districts to share and divulge more data than was necessary in , and few districts were willing to actively implement technology that created additional work.
- Managing state-level content within a localized LMS model was too cumbersome for the state to maintain, quickly leading to outdated and unusable digital content as standards and technology changed more rapidly than the TEA could keep up.
- The very purpose of the project--to provide standards-aligned resources for classrooms--was not able to be executed through an LMS architecture that could not carry standards data throughout the system.
The TEA began working with TEG to solve these problems with a platform uniquely designed for the objectives of the State DOE. Through extensive focus groups with teachers, school and district administrators, and technology directors, the TEA and TEG began to get a better understanding of what was needed to improve teaching and learning state-wide. They learned what mattered most to districts and their teachers was having easy access to state-approved, TEKS-aligned materials that they could choose to use (or not!) based on their unique, local needs and capacity.
The Texas Gateway!
Based on their understanding of what had not worked--a statewide LMS--and what districts were telling them would workTEG launched the Texas Gateway --a standards-aligned ecosystem designed exclusively around the classroom educator: interactive activities, lessons, courses, assessments, professional development badges and certificates, and more - all aligned to the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) state standards for every teacher and student in Texas, Pre-k to 12th grade.
Resources available through the Gateway include content in:
- Reading/Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Early Childhood
- EL Support
- Fine Arts
- Technology Applications
as well as resources for Safety, Cybersecurity, RtI, College Prep, and more.
"Did you know that @TXgateway provides access to free AP textbooks? Wow!"
"I love how @TXgateway allows you to search by TEK! I've found so many great resources!"
In addition, one of the most utilized segments of the Texas Gateway is the online Texas Lesson Study platform, a professional development environment based on the collaborative and iterative creation of TEKS-aligned lesson plans.
Another successful component of the Texas Gateway was its microcredential and badge platform. Through the many PD courses, certificate programs and academies the TEA offered, more than 250,000 Texas educators received training, credentialing or badging through the Texas Gateway. .
"Love that @TXgateway provides teachers opportunities to continue learning about Dyslexia through a FREE course!"
"Check out our fabulous Lesson Study website housed within @TXgateway. This is a great place to learn about this AMAZING form of professional development!"
The Final Details:
While large districts use the Gateway as a one-stop-shop to pull in resources when and where they need it, small and medium sized districts have benefited even more. For them, it has become a key resource because it allows them to utilize a fully vetted standards-aligned CMS without breaking their technology or staffing budgets.
The goal of the Texas Gateway was to provide every school in the state with equal access to key educational and professional resources, and it has done just that - with over 12 million annual page views and more than 1 million downloads per year.