Advanced Academics and Special Projects

Advanced Academics and Special Projects programs are grant-funded and support the areas of gifted/talented, literacy, English Language Learners, mathematics, and college and career readiness. Primary responsibilities include the development of professional development opportunities for face-to-face delivery at regional educational service centers (ESCs); the facilitation of Training of Trainer (TOT) sessions for statewide trainers; the development of online courses and media for access in Project Share and iTunesU; and the development and maintenance of websites.

The Elementary Students in Texas: Algebra Ready (ESTAR) Academies examine the big ideas in the grades K-5 mathematics TEKS that prepare students for success in algebra; engage in hands-on, student-centered activities and lessons designed to provide connections to and strengthen participants' knowledge of the elementary mathematics that is critical for success in algebra; and explore how to embed the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) into instruction as well as how to differentiate instruction to align with the expectations of Response to Intervention (Rtl).

The Middle-School Students in Texas: Algebra Ready (MSTAR) Academies are intensive, long-term, sustained, professional development academies training teachers and campus leaders to improve overall mathematics instruction and student achievement in order to meet end-of-course Algebra I standards in high school and to ensure post-secondary readiness. The MSTAR Academies are offered through regional ESCs in both face-to-face and online formats.

Participants in the MSTAR Academies examine the big ideas in the grades 5-8 mathematics Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS); utilize the Texas Response to Curriculum Focal Points (TxRCFP) framework to guide the design and implementation of intervention strategies; learn how to use the MSTAR Universal Screener/ MSTAR Diagnostic Assessment results to make instructional decisions; and apply practical strategies for implementing evidence-based interventions for students receiving Tier II mathematics support.

The End-of-Course Success (EOCS) Academies are intensive, long-term, sustained, professional development academies train teachers and campus leaders to improve overall mathematics instruction and student achievement in order to meet end-of-course Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II standards and to ensure postsecondary readiness. The EOCS Academies are offered through regional ESCs in both face-to-face and online professional development formats.

Participants in the End-of-Course Success (EOCS) Academies examine the concepts in the Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II mathematics Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and learn strategies through the exploration of hands-on, student-centered lessons focused on critical concepts; learn how to interpret results of formative assessments; use these data and other forms of data to make instructional decisions; and apply practical strategies for implementing evidence-based interventions for students receiving Tier II mathematics support.

MSTAR Universal Screener: The MSTAR Universal Screener is a formative assessment system administered to grades 5-8 students to help teachers determine if students are on-track or at-risk for meeting curricular expectations in algebra and for algebra-readiness.

MSTAR Diagnostic: The Math Diagnostic Instrument provides for the ongoing expert review of the supplemental math screening and/or diagnostic instruments developed and used as a component of the MSTAR Math Academies. Additionally, it provides expert knowledge on the design, delivery, and possible expansion of the math screening and/or diagnostic instruments developed for use in conjunction with the MSTAR Math Academies.

Texas Performance Standards Project (TPSP) is a statewide standards and assessment system districts can use to capture the high levels of achievement of gifted/talented (G/T) students in grades K-12.

The Online Training Project develops professional development courses for educators in the area of G/T Education; provides opportunities for face-to-face delivery at regional ESC and TOT sessions for ESC G/T specialists; and translates the trainings into an online format for delivery in E-Campus and Project Share.

Equity in Gifted/Talented Education increases identification of under-represented populations for G/T services and assists districts to effectively serve minority, low-SES, and twice-exceptional students identified for G/T services.

The Texas Adolescent Literacy Academies (TALA) prepares middle school teachers to design appropriate instruction for all students, including those who are struggling with reading due to limited English proficiency, learning disabilities, dyslexia, and other risk factors for reading difficulties. Included in the Academies are a set of training modules on cross-curricular vocabulary and comprehension strategies, a diagnostic and progress monitoring instrument, and guidance for intensive interventions targeting the needs of struggling adolescent readers.

The TALA consist of two separate academies—the English Language Arts (ELA) Academy (for English language arts/reading teachers) and Content Area Academy (for mathematics, science, and social studies teachers).

The English Language Learners Web Portal & Texas English Language Learners Instructional Tool is a web portal for a video-based professional development series for educators of English Language Learners (ELL) in the content areas of math, science, social studies and English language arts/reading. Sixteen video-based Texas English Language Learner Instructional Tool (TELLIT) courses are accessible via Project Share Texas and linked from the ELL web portal. The interactive portal provides an opportunity for educators to access models of cognitive, linguistic, and affective practices that promote effective teaching of ELLs in order to develop content knowledge and English proficiency. Featured videos will showcase teachers working with ELLs in differentiated classrooms.

Project Share is a global online learning community and professional development portal that provides a learning environment for over 25 courses that have been developed by the Advanced Academics team and Special Projects for mathematics, gifted/talented, and English Language Learners (ELL) teachers and administrators.

The College and Career Readiness (CCR) program identifies regional needs, creates strategic partnerships, and supports seventeen regional education service centers. Currently, a new CCR Profile Planning Guide is available through participating ESCs. The Profile Planning Guide Counselor Collaborative supports counselors through professional development and onsite technical assistance.