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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Common Core Math in Texas: Texas Math Scores Drop Worst in U.S., Says Expert
By Carole Hornsby Haynes   Part 5 of the Series: “The results in Grade 8 are virtually catastrophic.” January 11, 2016      Texas Insider

During the 2012 Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) math curriculum standards review, Dr. James Milgram, a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee and the only content expert in mathematics for the standards, reviewed both the first and second Texas drafts.  He publicly declared that the second draft showed every indication of being among the best, if not the best, state math standards in the country.

However, the final draft was dramatically altered in the final version that Milgram received from the TEA. A Common Core format had been added and pure math content reduced.

Now Texas students are paying a heavy price.  

For the first time since the NAEP was administered in the early 1990s, national math scores of fourth and eighth graders have dropped. The scores of high-school seniors show a “statistically significant” decline in math performance as well. This is especially significant because most of the students who took the biennial assessments live in states that have implemented Common Core math.

The TEA boasted that fourth and eighth grade students taking the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) -- the “Nation’s Report Card” -- in mathematics scored higher than the national average.  

Technically, yes, but the devil is in the details.

The TEA is hiding the fact that when we compare the 2015 NAEP eighth grade math scores with the 2011 scores, Texas has actually dropped more than any other state!  

The collapse in eighth grade math in Texas is the MOST DRAMATIC in the nation!

But, of course, neither the SBOE nor the TEA wants the public to know the extent of the damage they have reeked upon Texas education -- and upon our students.  This is highly embarrassing to a state considered to be a national leader!

In Texas fourth grade math scores rose from 27th in 2013 to 11th in 2015 nationally.  However, that was achieved because the national score fell, thereby increasing the spread. Texas eighth graders also scored above the national average while Texas scores have declined sharply from 16th in 2013 to 23rd in 2015.

In an email interview Dr. Milgram explained, “What you need to note is the STEEPNESS of the slope as we get from 2011 to 2015.  This gives a pretty accurate picture of how fast the state's students are falling apart.  And, in fact, this is one of the steepest of all slopes for all the states in eighth grade math. In fourth grade the results are essentially flat, but the results in grade 8 in mathematics are virtually catastrophic.”  

In reviewing the NAEP line graph, we see the fourth grade score continuing to rise while the national score is falling.  Milgram noted that, “In particular, in grade 4 there was virtually nothing happening, but in that grade the NAEP is not at all challenging, since it is not at all unusual for states to do very little in K-4, but the material in the higher grades often becomes more challenging.”

Milgram’s concern about the poor quality of Texas math standards is evidenced by the eighth grade line graph. “Overall, in fact, this TX graph shows a much faster collapse than is the case with the ordinary Common Core states in eighth grade.  So the conclusion is that the lousy TX standards are even worse than the Common Core standards by eighth grade.”

Milgram added that once the "process words" are stripped from these standards there is virually nothing left, and the “process words have virtually no effect on the NAEP type math problems, which actually require knowledge and some experience to resolve.”

During the November 16, 2016 SBOE testimony, Dr. Milgram, Niki Hayes, and Randy Houchins all provided ex-tensive examples showing how the problem can be addressed temporarily until the next Math TEKS review in 2020.  The Common Core Process Standards can be stripped out, leaving the pure math content which, according to Milgram, will still need to be strengthened.

Milgram offered his services as well as those of other experts to strengthen the content once the processes are removed.  Hayes added that “teachers will rise to the challenge of adding solid material that is needed if it is not covered in the stripped-down TEKS content standards.”

The SBOE has fiddled for months, in spite of an uproar from the public.  Students are losing and Texas is losing.   

The SBOE meets again in January, 2017.  It’s time for Chair Donna Bahorich to take a leadership role to allow Dr. Milgram to prepare a draft that strips out the illegal process standards with that document being presented in the April meeting for a final vote to move forward.

With a voice vote in January, we will see who really cares about Texas children.  As I stated in my last post on this issue, let’s see who wants only to protect “self-egos and pander to special interest groups (including elementary teacher associations, teacher training programs with vested interests in promoting reform methods, and textbook publishers with bloated and costly materials that focus on activities/methods).”

By state law, the SBOE and TEA have the responsibility to provide strong academic standards for Texas schools.  So far, they have given us a highly inferior product -- an embarrassing sham for math standards.

Message to the SBOE and TEA:  the eyes of Texas are upon you!

What you can do:
•    Call or write your SBOE representative and Chair Donna Bahorich and demand that they uphold Texas law and, in the January meeting, task Dr. Milgram to prepare a draft, removing the Common Core Process Standards (a.k.a., methodology) from our Math TEKS, and begin the process of strengthening the pure math content standards.
•    Call or write your Texas State Legislators:  Tell them to hold the TEA and its employees accountable for their actions in adding Common Core to our standards.  Texas House     Texas Senate

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