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

Will Texas State Board of Education Strip Common Core from Children’s Math Standards?

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. |  April 12, 2017  Texas Insider

For several years, Texas parents have been in a rage because Common Core is being found in their children’s classroom materials and on STAAR Tests, despite Texas law saying that is “illegal”. On April 18th, the Texas State Board of Education will finally consider an amendment to the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS) Standards to remove the illegal Common Core-compliant mathematic process skills.  

Over and over, parents have begged the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) to strip the Common Core Process Standards out of the math curriculum as a temporary solution, until new math standards can be adopted during the next review period.

Yet the can has been kicked down the road with the Education Establishment ignoring the will of the people. Chairwoman Donna Bahorich has delayed a vote on the matter for three consecutive SBOE meetings, and clearly doesn’t want the Common Core processes stripped from the standards.

And Education Services Centers (regional centers that have consistently opposed conservatives,) also have a dog in the fight. These centers created their own curriculum — originally called CSCOPE — which uses Common Core materials and methods.  They, too, clearly have no interest in getting rid of the Common Core process standards.

Parents complain about the age inappropriate standards.  Here are two of the standards listed in the TEKS Math Standards for Kindergarteners.  The students are expected to:

A.)  Apply mathematics to problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace;
B.)  Use a problem-solving model that incorporates analyzing given information, formulating a plan or strategy, determining a solution, justifying the solution, and evaluating the problem-solving process and the reasonableness of the solution;
C.)  Select tools, including real objects, manipulatives, paper and pencil, and technology as appropriate, and techniques, including mental math, estimation, and number sense as appropriate, to solve problems;
D.)  Communicate mathematical ideas, reasoning, and their implications using multiple representations, including symbols, diagrams, graphs, and language as appropriate;
E.)  Create and use representations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas;
F.)  Analyze mathematical relationships to connect and communicate mathematical ideas; and
G.)  Display, explain, and justify mathematical ideas and arguments using precise mathematical language in written or oral communication.

And kindergarteners are expected to do algebraic thinking:

5.)  Algebraic reasoning. The student applies mathematical process standards to identify the pattern in the number word list. The student is expected to recite numbers up to at least 100 by ones and tens beginning with any given number.

It’s obvious these standards have been written by people who either have no clue about the learning capabilities of young children, or else they want to kill the joy of learning inherent in those little ones.

Parents complain that Common Core math is especially difficult for autistic children who have to write a paragraph about how they came up with a math answer.  Even though they can do the math, they can’t write the paragraph.  Behavioral problems created by stress are surfacing in the classroom.

Niki Hayes, Math Review Panel Member and math teacher, testified to the SBOE (marker 3:06:02,) in November, 2016 that the Common Core-compliant process standards require students to know all the six to seven ways a math problem can be solved, rather than teaching students the traditional way and having them arrive at the right answer.

The process of getting an answer is more important than a correct answer.

View also the testimony of:

Randy Houchins (experienced engineer & concerned parent,) regarding the Math TEKS (curriculum standards) and STAAR/End-of-Course Tests (marker 1:23:02)

Lori Hines (pediatrician & mother of 4,) regarding the failed “New Math of the 1990’s (marker 2:05:29)

Dr. James Milgram, world-renowned research mathematician and Professor Emeritus at Stanford, reviewed both the 1st and 2nd Drafts of the 2012 Texas Math Curriculum Standards. In his November testimony to the SBOE (marker 1:26:11,) Milgram said how a student arrives at the answer is not important, only that the answer is correct.

He provided the SBOE members with an analysis of the current 1st and 4th Grade Math Standards.  He illustrated how some were “total messes” while some were far too general to even correct.  Others had “nothing to do with mathematics but everything to do with social engineering” and were inappropriate for the grade level.

Once the Common Core Process Standards are stripped out, the pure math content is very weak and will need to be strengthened, Milgram said.  He has offered his services, as well as those of other experts, to strengthen the content.

The future of Texas students is being jeopardized because the Education Establishment places its own interest above those of the children. Dr. Milgram says that Common Core math does not prepare students for a STEM career! (At time marker 1:26:11.)

The TEA boasts that 4th and 8th Grade students taking the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) — the “Nation’s Report Card” — in mathematics scored higher than the national average.

Yet 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!

Although Texas eighth graders scored above the national average, their ranking actually fell from 16th to 23rd, while fourth grade scores rose.

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 8th grade math. In 4th grade the results are essentially flat, but the results in grade 8 in mathematics are virtually catastrophic.”

Texas 4th Grade math scores rose from 27th in 2013 to 11th in 2015 nationally. Because the 4th Grade score continued to rise while the national score was falling, the spread for Texas became greater. Milgram noted,

“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.”

But the Texas 8th Grade line graph “shows a much faster collapse than is the case with the ordinary Common Core states in 8th Grade.  So the conclusion is that the lousy TX standards are even worse than the Common Core standards by eighth grade.”

The collapse in 8th Grade math in Texas is the MOST DRAMATIC in the nation!  This is highly embarrassing to a state considered to be a national leader!

In the face of all this evidence, the SBOE is derelict in its duties.  Why are they so willing to leave Common Core processes in our math standards when they are having such a devastating effect on the math education of Texas students?  Does the SBOE not care about the reputation of Texas?

Blame must be placed also at the door of the TEA for its role in drafting of the Common Core math practices and integration into the content.

Will the April 18th meeting be yet another stall tactic by Ms. Bahorich or will the Board do what is best for Texas students and strip out Common Core processes in the current math standards? If this can gets kicked down the road once again, the Board had better be prepared for the severe public backlash.

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