"The Only Thing We have to Fear, is Fear It Self." Franklin D. Roosevelt
This week I attended a workshop provided by Region IV. It was a two day session on the newly revised/changed Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for math. The changes will impact some grades more than others. But, they will certainly effect ALL STUDENTS despite the grade level. The changes and revisions will no doubt challenge students and teachers alike. Content has been moved around to others grades (some moved from higher grades to lower and vice versa) and the rigor of skills have been enhanced. The good news is the new TEKS for grades three through eighth will not be assessed until the 2014-2015 school year. The not so good news is that there is only one school year to figure out how to implement the changes and cover any gaps beore the new TEKS will be assessed formally. And there will gaps in student knowledge from grade to grade.
Educators will do what we always do when presented with a new challenge. We will come together, discuss changes, create a plan and do the work. A lot of cooperation and collaboration will be needed to fill in the holes. And instruction and curriculum will need modifying to ensure we are preparing our students for the new math expectations. Teaching and learning will continue.
This is where Region IV (or your local eduction service) can be of service. First, it is their responsibility to assist local school districts in meeting state goals. Secondly, they have some pretty cool resources that may make the evaluation of the new changes in the TEKS easier to decipher. I am going to go ahead and give you those and below I will discuss what they shared in the workshop that might be of interest if not intriguing.
Region IV provides professional development and other resources like the side-by-side document that compares the current TEKS to the new TEKS in color coded way. The pink shaded text indicates content that is deleted from the TEKS. The green shaded text indicates content that will remain or has been more clearly defined. The content may stay in the same grade level, may have been added to the grade level, or will be deleted from the grade level. The blue shaded text indicates content that is new.
Below is a view of what the document looks like.
The document above can be found at website Project Share. You can find many resources including instructional lesons, a gap analysis, focal points of the new TEKS and the mathematic process standards (which composes the majority of the test). The mission of Project Share is to provide an interactive and engaging learning environment for teachers and students. Texas Education Agency (TEA), of course, has the current TEKS available in their usual spot. To see the newly revised ones, click here.
Now during our two day session, many other documents were shared, but none provided the direct comparison like the side-by-side view. However, the most informative and interesting information was shared by the presenters themselves. I do not remember any names, so no one can be quoted. But a little research can confirm what I am about to share.
1. The State Assessment of Academic Readiness (Texas' state assessment) for the school year 2013-2014 will only test content from the current TEKS.
2. The State Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) for the school year 2014-2015 should begin testing the newly revised TEKS.
3. Now it gets interesting. According to the Region IV facilitators, the 2014-2015 STAAR assessment will include test items from the current STAAR assessment content (maybe released items) and possibly a few items will be included from the newly revised TEKS (these might just be field questions).
According to TEA, during the year of implementation they plan to assess students on the “overlapping” student expectations for each grade level. For example, consider the current 7th grade STAAR bank of test questions; during implementation year they will only include those questions that assess a current student expectation and simultaneously a student expectation from the new TEKS. Students can still expect to see field test questions on the STAAR assessments.
This is good news and also tantalizing. Good news in the sense that more time will be given to instruct new content and close learning gaps before students are assessed on it. Awesome news if students will get more time adjusting to the just two year old assessment of the current TEKS.
The down side and possible flaw in the system is using current test items, especially if released items can show up on the assessment. No doubt districs, schools, and teachers will use these public released items as instructional guides and practice material. This could possibly invalidate scores and provide data that sends a false sense of success and student ability. It is essentially teaching to the test. It could also provide the means for many schools and districts to meet the annual yearly progress and thus redeemed the state from further negative ratings.
Since many schools were hit hard because a waiver was not applied for by our Texas govenor prior to implemented the new STAAR test in 2011. Many schools and districts have failed to meet annual yearly progress (AYP) required by federal law. A drop in student scores is typical when a newly developed state assessment is introduced. (Koretz, 2000.)
Nevertheless, there is work to do and a limited amount of time to achieve success. Start looking at the above resources and begin making plans to change everything you did last school year. You will now have a new goal that will take teamwork and organizational support.
My disclaimer: The Region IV facilitators only shared bullets 1 though 3 with the attendees. Anything discussed after those are my own opinions and there is no proof that those are the intent or goal of the state. I hope I have sparked your interest with my conspiracy theory and motivated you in some way to begin your lesson preparations for this up coming school year by looking at changes in the math content. Feel free to comment, criticize, or educate. I am a life long learner who believes everyone has academic value. I welcome you to share your wisdom.
Koretz, D. (2000, May). Limitations in the Use of Achievement Tests as Measures of Educators’ Productivity.
Ring Out the Old and Ring in the New. (2013, July). In-Sight A Neswletter for Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment.