New standards still fall short of Common Core in clarity, but better in the higher grades
AUSTIN, TX— An analysis of the new math standards approved in April by the State Board of Education (SBOE) shows they are still, overall, weaker in clarity than the Common Core standards that the state has opted out of. The final version of the standards, however, was greatly improved over the initial draft thanks to last minute amendments from the SBOE.
“Several State Board of Education members tried to improve the standards at the last minute, and we are grateful for that effort,” said Bill Hammond, President and CEO of the Texas Association of Business. “The problem is in the way the current system of writing and approving the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards is set up. The current system doesn’t allow for the strongest standards to be written; it doesn’t allow for enough experts to be involved in the process and doesn’t allow for enough review of changes that are made through amendments to ensure that those changes strengthen standards.”
Because of the shortcomings of the process, the Texas Association of Business is releasing a short report containing recommendations to make the process better. If adopted by the Legislature, these changes would increase expert participation, ensure the public has more information about the process, allow for more review time of any changes made and would ensure both the rigor and clarity of all future TEKS standards, no matter the subject.
“The business community is very concerned that our public school system isn’t producing enough career and college ready graduates,” said Hammond. “We must put in place the strongest standards in order to ensure that our students are prepared for the workforce, and our employers have qualified candidates to choose from. Without improvement in Texas, jobs will leave and go to states that have stronger education systems capable of producing the career and college ready graduates they need.”
TAB also is releasing a report from curriculum expert Dr. Ze’ve Wurman which reviews the new math TEKS. “Clarity-wise, the Common Core language is significantly better throughout,” said Wurman in the report. He supports limits passed by the State Board of Education on the use of calculators in the elementary grades. “The board should be praised for standing firm on calculators, resisting further dilution of the standards.” Wurman said content-wise, the elementary standards are comparable with the Common Core but not better. He said the Texas standards are generally better than the Common Core in high school when it comes to content. He has problems with the clarity of the Texas standards at all levels. Texas decided to opt out of the Common Core, designed as a national standard, in an effort to pass standards that were unique to Texas and stronger than the Common Core. Wurman says that the SBOE was only partially successful in doing that. He writes in the report “the board has left many problems in place and ended up with a semi-coherent document. It proves, yet again, the old truth that coherent and elegant documents are not written by committees or perfected through amendments.”
Reports are attached.
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Founded in 1922, the Texas Association of Business is a broad-based, bipartisan organization representing more than 3,000 small and large Texas employers and 200 local chambers of commerce.