A N EW S TANDARD

Changing the way we write the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills

The recent debate over new math Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) points out weaknesses in the current system of curriculum development and approval in the State of Texas.

5/31/2012

A NEW STANDARD
Changing the way we write the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills
Introduction: The recent debate over new math Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) points out weaknesses in the current system of curriculum development and approval in the State of Texas. While the review process appeared to be detailed and lengthy, the final document that was approved was, overall, weaker than the common core standards that the State was trying to surpass. Furthermore the document was still being revised just hours before its final approval. Those changes were not going through a full review as they were being made to ensure rigor and clarity. In putting together vital education policy that will directly affect the school children of Texas for the next decade, we must ensure that the State Board of Education and the public actually know what is in the final version of the State’s TEKS. The final version must be adequately reviewed for rigor and language clarity before final approval is given by the State Board of Education. Systemic Changes: The current system allows for too many non-experts and education professionals to make significant changes to the TEKS. In some cases these changes are made without consideration of the effect on the overall document. In some cases these changes are made for reasons other than improving the educational quality and rigor of the standards. Limits should be put in place to keep extraneous issues out of the TEKS creation and review process, leaving the writing of new The final version must be adequately curriculum up to a panel of academic reviewed for rigor and language clarity experts and professionals in the field of before final approval is given by the State study being reviewed and re-written. Board of Education. This panel of experts would come from a list of people who meet clear guidelines to write academic standards. Those guidelines would be debated and approved by the State Board of Education. The public and board could then review the proposed changes and make suggestions through a series of hearings, public work sessions and public meetings. Those suggestions would then be given back to the panel of experts
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5/31/2012

to consider incorporating into the final version of the document. Editors would then go over the document for clarity and to check for errors in punctuation and grammar. Once the final version of the revised TEKS is completed, there would be a 30day lay-out period for a full review, so that everyone involved would know what they are voting for. By this point the document will have been reviewed by numerous experts, the public and the board on many occasions. Nothing in the document should be a surprise, and everyone should feel comfortable with the rigor of the document, knowing that it will move Texas education forward. After the 30-day lay-out period the State Board of Education would take an up or down vote. There would be no last minute amendments, and everyone would know what is in the document before it is actually put into the State’s education code. Conclusion: There will never be a perfect way to write new TEKS. There, however, must be a way put in place to keep the focus on academics and educational improvement, keep the standards high and move the system forward. The current system includes too many opportunities for distractions away from the goal of improving education and putting higher standards in place. We must move away from those distractions while still allowing for plenty of public input in the process. The system proposed in this document does both of those things. Texas must increase the number of career and college ready students graduating from our high schools. Without rigorous curriculum that goal will not be met, and the Texas economy will suffer. There won’t be qualified graduates for employers to hire, meaning those employers could go to states where they do have qualified graduates to fill those positions. That is something Texas can’t afford.

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