Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

July 6, 2006

All other states, beware! Texas is changing curriculum standards!

What a waste of time and money.

Chron.com | How English is taught in Texas likely to change:

At its meeting Thursday, the 15-member board is expected to scrap a curriculum revision process dominated by teachers and the Texas Education Agency and discuss a new timetable for revising the English reading and writing standards.Many on the board want to replace a student-centered curriculum that calls on students to use their own attitudes and ethics to interpret texts with teacher-centered instruction that emphasizes the basics of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

A lot of time and money was spent establishing the original curriculum and now they want to spend more so that it can be more “teacher-centered?”

Chron.com | How English is taught in Texas likely to change:

“Texas standards are not grade-level specific, most of them are noise. They can’t be measured and are just a bunch of fuzzy words,” McLeroy said.

Kind of like the evidence you give here for why the standards need changing. Oh wait, here’s an example!

Chron.com | How English is taught in Texas likely to change:

One criticism voiced at the session is that the TEKS are too student-centered, often asking students to use their attitudes, behaviors and ethics to interpret texts. For example, students in fourth through eighth grades are expected to “describe mental images that text descriptions evoke” and “compare text events with his or her own or other readers’ experiences.”McLeroy calls such standards “fuzzy English” and wants to expunge them from the state’s curriculum. He said such standards can’t be measured on state tests.

What about this standard for high school English? It can’t be measured?

19 TAC Chapter 110, Subchapter C:

(3) Writing/grammar/usage/conventions/spelling. The student relies increasingly on the conventions and mechanics of written English, including the rules of grammar and usage, to write clearly and effectively. The student is expected to:

(A) produce legible work that shows accurate spelling and correct use of the conventions of punctuation and capitalization such as italics and ellipses;

(B) demonstrate control over grammatical elements such as subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, verb forms, and parallelism;

(C) compose increasingly more involved sentences that contain gerunds, participles, and infinitives in their various functions; and

(D) produce error-free writing in the final draft.

And maybe the use of multi-grade standards has to do with recognition that things take more than one grade to learn? Or maybe that not all kids learn everything the same way the same year?

19 TAC Chapter 110, Subchapter A:

(4) Listening/speaking/communication. The student communicates clearly by putting thoughts and feelings into spoken words. The student is expected to:

(A) use vocabulary to describe clearly ideas, feelings, and experiences (K-3);

(B) clarify and support spoken messages using appropriate props such as objects, pictures, or charts (K-3); and

(C) retell a spoken message by summarizing or clarifying (K-3).

(5) Reading/word identification. The student uses a variety of word identification strategies. The student is expected to:

(A) decode by using all letter-sound correspondences within a word (1-3);

(B) blend initial letter – sounds with common vowel spelling patterns to read words (1-3);

(C) recognize high frequency irregular words such as said, was, where, and is (1-2);

(D) identify multisyllabic words by using common syllable patterns (1-3);

(E) use structural cues to recognize words such as compound, base words, and inflections such as -s, -es, -ed, and -ing (1-2);

(F) use structural cues such as prefixes and suffixes to recognize words, for example, un- and -ly (2);

(G) use knowledge of word order (syntax) and context to support word identification and confirm word meaning (1-3); and

(H) read both regular and irregular words automatically such as through multiple opportunities to read and reread (1-3).

It isn’t like these standards haven’t been reviewed by education experts (for what it’s worth.)

Chron.com | How English is taught in Texas likely to change:

Board member Terri Leo, R-Spring, said at last month’s work session that she’s worried students aren’t reading enough classic literature.

You mean Texas educators aren’t qualified to determine what is enough classical literature and if the students are reading enough of it?

10 Comments »

  1. I have been put off by the “fuzziness” of NC’s English standards before, but the ones cited as fuzzy are proven markers of a good reader! Politicians. They kill me.

    Comment by Laura — July 12, 2006 @ 2:49 pm

  2. […] Texas changing curriculum standards […]

    Pingback by Education Matters US » Education Carnival — July 12, 2006 @ 9:30 pm

  3. The first paragraph sets up a big misconception. Don McLeroy wrote an article (The Chall Challenge-June 2006) that MISquotes the work of Dr. Jeanne Chall in her book The Academic Achievement Challenge: What Really Works in the Classroom? (2002). This is probably where the Chron reporter’s research for the first paragraph went astray. Chall does not use the term “teacher centered.” Rather, she uses the terms “teacher directed” and “student directed.” Very different things, and they aren’t mutually exclusive. A classroom can be teacher-directed and student-centered, meaning that the teacher manages and determines what goes on in the classroom, and those goings-on are centered around the needs of the students in the classroom (like the kid with dyslexia has different needs than the kid who came to school for the first time in her life the day before who has different needs from the kid who needs help putting commas in the right place, and so on). I love it when people really take the time to be precise (sarcasm intended). The TEKS were supposed to be student centered, and implemented through teacher direction.

    Comment by Bruce — July 21, 2006 @ 8:56 pm

  4. Interesting. The fact that teacher directed and student directed aren’t mutually exclusive makes sense to me. And the more I read in the press, the more disappointed I am at the quality of research that goes into reporting, especially since some of it is so basic. So would you say this is more of a problem of McLeroy not understanding the implementation process or he just has a different agenda so understanding the current TEKS isn’t an issue?

    Comment by texased — July 21, 2006 @ 9:17 pm

  5. It is definitely the latter. Conspiracy theories aside, most people think that they are the proof of why things should go back to the “golden era” of education, when everyone was smart and graduated and could take SATs with all their friends and such, whenever that was.

    Comment by Bruce — October 1, 2006 @ 12:32 am

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