Posts Tagged "Texas"

Required Listening: NPR’s “The Long Game”

Yesterday afternoon, KERA broadcast Trey Kay’s radio documentary about the culture wars surrounding Texas’ public school curriculum.  The Long Game: Texas’ Ongoing Battle for the Direction of the Classroom provides a rigorous and balanced exploration of the controversies surrounding what is taught in Texas public schools.  As Kay reports:

For more than a half a century, citizens of the Lone Star State have had intense, emotional battles over what children should and should not be taught in public school classrooms. While there have been fights over just about every academic subject, debates over history, evolution, God and country generate the most heat.

“The Long Game” explores the debate over CSCOPE, Texas’ resistance to the Common Core State Standards, and the ongoing battle over biology standards.  Kay’s analysis looks behind the headlines to probe how Texas’ political and religious history has shaped what is taught in the state’s classrooms. If you missed it, you can access the recording here.

 

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Proclamation 2014: New Materials and New Challenges in Texas

Later this month, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) will adopt instructional materials submitted in response to Proclamation 2014, which calls for K-8 math, K-12 science, and technology applications resources.

In a press release  issued in September, the Texas Education Agency reported that more than 1,200 instructional materials had been submitted for state adoption. As the process proceeded, many publishers, particularly those who had not participated in a Texas adoption before, withdrew their materials. Over 400 products have gone through the adoption process. TEA noted that most are online products, making this “the largest review of primarily online textbook materials in state history.”

The large number of products generally and the high percentage of online materials are not the only things that are unique about the current state adoption. Previously, only materials that were 100 percent aligned to Texas’ learning standards—the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)—were eligible to be included on the state’s coveted list of “Conforming” instructional materials.  Materials aligned to at least 50 percent but less than 100 percent of the TEKS were included on the state’s list of “Non-Conforming” materials. However, Senate Bill 6 (2011) replaced the state’s Conforming and Non-Conforming lists with a new “State-Adopted” list and made instructional materials eligible to be included on the State-Adopted list if they aligned to at least 50 percent of the TEKS.

This creates a new challenge for Texas school districts statewide. Products will appear on the State-Adopted list even though they may not be 100 percent aligned to the TEKS, yet superintendents and school board presidents annually must certify to the commissioner of education and the SBOE that their students have been provided with instructional materials that address 100 percent of the TEKS for all courses in the foundation curricula, except physical education. This legal requirement is known as the 100 Percent Rule.

Over the next few weeks, this blog will provide information and guidance to help educators navigate these changes. Posts will focus on strategies for meeting the requirements of the 100 Percent Rule in the wake of Senate Bill 6’s changes, as well as research-based guidance in choosing online and print-based materials that meet the unique instructional needs of students.

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We’re In the News

Kate Alexander’s piece in last week’s Austin American Statesman carefully examines how the marketplace for instructional materials in Texas has changed in recent years. Alexander explains that implementation of the Common Core State Standards in 14,000 districts nationwide means that even large states, such as Texas and California, with more than 1,000 districts each, now hold less sway in the instructional materials market. She also discusses the effects of Texas legislation passed in 2011 that gives local districts greater control over the materials they purchase. A Texas public school administrator quoted in the article explained that the legislation created opportunities because it allows districts to select instructional materials that have not been through the state review process, but it also created some substantial challenges as districts now must “wade through the torrent of new options.” Alexander references Learning List as a service that will help publishers and Texas educators “navigate the new market.”

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