The Texas constitution guarantees that public schoolchildren will have textbooks. This is an important priority set by Texan lawmakers over 100 years ago and assures that there is equity for all Texas school districts when it comes to the number and quality of textbooks. States that do not fund textbooks in this manner tend to have more textbook shortages.

The state pays directly for instructional materials that meet the following three requirements;
  1. meet the required state curriculum,
  2. are free from factual errors
  3. are durable enough to last for a long time
This ensures that there is alignment between required state curriculum, required state assessments, and the instructional materials needed to succeed on both. Each year a portion of the Available School Fund is set aside by the State Board of Education to purchase instructional materials on a one-per-child basis.

Over the past decade, the amount of public education funding has grown, as have the available school fund and textbook expenditures.

However in Texas, the amount of state money spent on textbooks remains at less than one penny of each public education dollar spent by the state.

The Process
  • The state legislature must appropriate these funds and since the Texas legislature meets every other year, the funding must be appropriated for a two-year period (biennium).
  • Each appropriation must cover new materials adopted for particular subjects and grades, enough materials in other subjects to keep up with Texas' 80,000-student-per-year enrollment growth, needed replacements and special materials for visually impaired students.
Factors that Affect Funding
Maximum Cost
  • In order to budget with certainty and know a maximum amount it will spend each year, the State Board of Education sets a maximum cost that the state will pay per book.
  • In setting the maximum cost for a subject and grade, the state looks at the current catalog price for those materials and adjusts for inflation to the year in which the materials will be purchased.
  • This way, by multiplying expected numbers of books times price, the state knows with certainty the total limit that it will pay in a given year.
  • Publishers are free to submit materials over the maximum cost, but few do so. Districts and schools are free to choose the more expensive materials, but they must pay for them out of local funds.
  • Textbook Credit Pilot Project. The Legislature in 2001 enacted a Textbook Credit Pilot Project, in which school districts and the state share in the savings when districts order materials that are below the maximum cost. (See for more information.) If the maximum cost is $40 per book, and the district selects a book that is $30, the state saves $5 and the district keeps $5 that it can use on other materials that can be purchased with textbook funds.
Subject-Area Adoptions
  • Before 1997, the State Board of Education split the subject areas up within grade levels, so that there was a more gradual replacement of materials in certain subjects. For example, one year might have middle school science and high school math. Under this system, there was more similarity in how much the state spent.
  • Since the 1997 creation of the state's new curriculum, the TEKS, instructional materials have been adopted one full subject area at a time. For example, in one year the State Board of Education adopts science for all grade levels, and the next year it adopts social studies for all grade levels. This was a good system for making sure that there were instructional materials to meet the new TEKS.