By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News
The Texas PTA hosted a webinar for parents called “Understanding the New Math Standards” earlier this year to explain recent changes to the Texas Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS, the first major revisions since 1998.
The Texas PTA hosted the Feb. 18 event and the talk itself was given by Monica Martinez, associate commissioner, standards and programs and Jo Ann Bilderback, math/science manager, curriculum division, both of the Texas Education Agency. The TEA oversees primary and secondary public education in Texas.
Martinez stated that the goal of the changes, developed by the State Board of Education and reviewed over two years from 2010-2012, is to ensure that Texas math standards are as rigorous as other demanding math programs, such as Massachusetts and Singapore.
In response to some parents’ questions regarding Common Core, which is illegal in Texas, Bilderback emphasized that, “In Texas, we did not adapt the Common Core standards.”
Parents and students can expect to see the following changes:
- New coursework is meant to emphasize real-world applications of the subject matter.
- Students are also expected to learn to apply a scientific method-approach to math, and to choose the mathematical tools they feel best suit the task at hand.
- Think Through Math (TTM), an online learning resource free for students grades 3-8. Parents will be able to register students to use this tool, which motivates through fun competition and is adaptive to each student’s learning pace.
- An interactive, online math glossary of terms for students and parents, with at least 100 math terms, definitions and examples. (30 items are currently live with more to follow.)
- Actionable, “real time” reports of student progress for parental engagement.
- “Just in Time” access to live teachers for students via chat or speech for students with computer microphones. Also available in Spanish.
- New lessons related to financial literacy.
- TTM also offers “gap-buster” pathways for students struggling to fill gaps between the old and new curriculum.
- This year’s STAAR testing dates are delayed from March until April based on feedback from teachers in order to give students adequate time to prepare. Retesting will not be required for now for 5th and 8th grade students.
- For parents concerned that the new material is too challenging for younger students, Bilderback reminded them that students are not assessed until the 3rd grade, and that materials are presented to students to “test drive” before the results matter.
- Changes are far more significant for students in grades K-8 than for high school students. High school students will see new courses made available to them, such as Algebraic Reasoning (an alternative to Algebra II).
Both presenters were optimistic that Texas lawmakers in the current legislative sessions will approve additional funding to help cover the cost of this new initiative.
To review the new standards, visit www.tea.texas.gov.