Are 21st Century College and Career Ready Standards Harming OUR Children?

Last week in Houston Texas at the ‘About the Child’ Conference Dr. Peg Luksik spoke about the history and danger of a Standards based education system.

You can watch the full conference video by clicking this link~

Here is a portion of Dr. Luksik’s talk that Karen Bracken of Tennessee captured.

Dr. Luksik explains why standards ARE the problem. They are why we are seeing a lack of self confidence in our children and why the achievement gap is getting wider. Take heed people. College and Career Ready/Common Core is NOT JUST STANDARDS. 


Now, let’s take a look at Texas, a state that said NO to the Common Core national standards but said YES to Standards based education that is clearly aligned with 21st Century College and Career Ready Standards.

For your information before reading the information below –

SBOE = State Board of Education

TEA = Texas Education Agency

TEKS = Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (STANDARDS)

STAAR = State of Texas Academic Assessment of Readiness


The Below information was written by Randy Houchins 

After John Pendergraff and I testified to the SBOE on agenda item 11, Discussion of Item Development for the Texas Assessment Program, the TEA was called up to answer question. The video of the questioning is a little over one hour. Below is a quick summary and a few of my comments on the discussion.

Gloria Stotsky (TEA Director of Student Assessment) was brought up to answer questions.

Right off the bat, Ms. Stotsky confirmed that items on the assessment simply match the curriculum standards and because these multiple methods and processes are outlined in the TEKS, that is why they show up on the STAAR assessment.

Marty Rowley understands that the TEKS are creating the issue. He asked what could be done and Monica Martinez responded (starting at 08:30) with what it would take to revise the standards again and that it is probably something they would not have the resources for immediately (unless they change the priority of what the TEA is working: English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, etc.). It would take some a time; at least a year. There is no immediate remedy…

At 11:37 Donna Bahorich states we have always had the Process Standards, previously they were at the end. Something has changed. What has changed? Ms. Martinez did say they added the process standards to middle school and that they were moved from the bottom to the top of the TEKS for elementary, but that the process standards have always been there in elementary TEKS (at least since 1998).

Keep in mind that it is not just the process standards causing the problem.

At 12:31 Ms. Martinez confirmed what I have been saying (and tried to explain in my testimony on 11 Sep 2015) that the “Content Standards” now state that “the student applies mathematical process standards to…” And this, along with multiple methods being called for in the “Content Standards” is what is causing a problem.

At 17:01 Julie Guthrie (TEA Director of Mathematics and Science Assessment for Student Assessment Division) began answering questions. At 22:30 Ms. Guthrie confirmed the Process Skills are imbedded into the Content Standards. (This in combination with multiple methods (representation, modeling, etc.) called out in the content standards is what is causing problems.) Ms. Guthrie admits this at 23:00.

At 25:14 Ms. Bahorich asked about how we got to so much reading on the assessments. Ms. Guthrie stated that all 3-5 grade students can raise their hand and have the teacher read a word from the assessment. Ms. Bahorich said that there seems to be more flexibility on how the tests can be put together than is being employed. When they tie all of the questions into long reading passages we may be overlook the basic skills.

Ken Mercer asked two great questions at 27:36; one on the Process Standards and one for the TEA lawyer on methodology. He was very adamant on wanting to solve this problem for his constituents and that he was tired of having to do the Texas two step when discussing this issue with parents from his district.

His first question was on moving the process standards. Just moving the process skills back to the end will not solve the problem. Monica Martinez confirmed this at 30:00.

Mr. Mercer questioned if the new TEKS dictating methodology is in violation of TEC Chapter 28 section 28.002 as I had stated in my testimony.

Vaughn, the TEA lawyer, confirmed the statute does say the SBOE cannot dictate methodology but then stated, but the statute did not give a definition of “methodology” at 30:58.

At 32:58 Tom Maynard started asking questions. He asked what is the difference between methodology and process? I think this is a good question because many of us have used these interchangeably when perhaps we shouldn’t. Most of what I have seen on the questions I highlighted show different methods for solving problems and may not be caused by the “Process Standards.” When we use method and process interchangeably I think this confuses them because they only think of the “Process Standards.” We may need to clarify these differences with a follow up letter to the SBOE members. Julie Guthrie did not have a good answer for the question.

He then asked (at 34:50) for an example of manipulatives and Ms. Guthrie said this would not show up on the assessment, but I think that it does when you have pictures of base 10 blocks in the question (like the 7th grade STAAR question from my testimony). Mr. Maynard gets that the STAAR questions are calling for methodology. Ms. Guthrie redirects that the STAAR questions are testing the TEKS (some silent finger pointing if you are paying attention to how she answers the questions). She even pulls back up my testimony and points out the area model question from the 5rd grade STAAR. Yep, it is in the TEKS. You can hear John clap once Mr. Maynard made it clear that he understands (38:48).

Patricia Hardy starts her questions/statements at 40:00. She makes a statement that for every parent in the audience complaining about the new TEKS she can bring in 500 teachers that would back up what is in the TEKS. I do not believe this statement. She also claims this new math is copied from Singapore math. This is also not true. She says parents think the math is too hard. The math is not too hard… it is too stupid.

Yes, a lot of “Math Experts” are behind this new math. They are also selling the professional development to the State and School Districts… How convenient to create the problem and then sell the solution. If Ms. Hardy had listened to any of the previous testimony from parents like Dr. Lori Hines or me, she would know there are many professors and math experts that know this reform math is a failure.

She says that at least 300 teachers went back and forth on these TEKS and all agreed. What Ms. Hardy does not know (or will not acknowledge) is that the development of the TEKS was fine until the very end when one person made some significant changes and brought in the introduction to each grade level and then tied the “Process Standards” to EVERY SINGLE Content Standard. We have all said that the Content Standards are good. I have revised that statement after a much more focused review of the TEKS and now say that we must take out the references to multiple methods in the Content Standards. These are minor changes… Most of the Content Standards are good.

At 43:15 Ms. Hardy says it is unfortunate that many teachers do not have the mathematical background and understanding to be able to do the teaching that they are required to do. If you listen closely in the background you may be able to hear me saying, “Unbelievable… She just threw the teachers under the bus.”

Next up (at 44:02) was Erika Beltran. She wanted to parrot what Ms., Hardy said. Not much complimentary to say about her statements… She says they should take caution on their next steps since they have been presented with very limited information and they have only heard from one parent multiple times. (That would be me… My testimony on 27 Jan 2016 was my 8th time to testify to the SBOE or the SBOE Committee on Instruction. I have also testified twice to the Senate Education Committee. ) Ms. Beltran wants the SBOE to consider a broader audience before they consider making changes to the TEKS even if they have heard anecdotally from parents in their districts; it is not sufficient to make changes. You really should watch this SBOE member’s statements!

Ms. Beltran thinks Algebra is abstract… (You may hear me laugh in the background and say, “no it is not.”) Not sure what to say about this other than it points to her complete lack of understanding of mathematics.

She thinks the new TEKS are great and nothing is wrong. To throw out her own anecdotal information, she hasn’t heard any complaints from any of the parents in her district. Hey Dallas, you may want to e-mail the SBOE and in particular Ms. Beltran.

At 46:48 Mr. Ratliff asked a question of the TEA assessment representatives if there were any questions that would show up on the STAAR that a student could get correct answer for arriving at the wrong answer but using the correct process. This was based on discussions I had shown previously and Mr. Mercer’s questions regarding those questions. Ms. Guthrie was confused and thought my examples were all from Algebra this time, so she said since this is brand new and they had not released a test with the new curriculum she would assume the example was from a class assignment. In actuality I did not have any examples of this during my testimony.

The students could get problems wrong for not understanding a method since some of the questions we have seen on the 3-8 grade STAAR assessments only test methodology.

Barbara Cargill spoke next at 47:35. She reminded the Board that this discussion item has been on the Committee on Instructions agenda for some time and that they have heard from many more parents than the two that testified that day. She said that they should stop with the discussion because the discussion was not giving the constituents answers.

Ms. Cargill then asked Ms. Martinez if they had ever done a small panel review to make a small tweak to the Math TEKS. Ms. Martinez did confirm that when the Texas College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) were released a small panel was formed to tweak the Math TEKS in a few grades to make sure the CCRS were appropriately imbedded. We need to research when this occurred.

Ms. Cargill wants more investigation of this because in her 12 years on the board she has never seen a reaction like this from parents and constituents.

Mr. Rowley spoke next at 49:45. Mr. Rowley says what has come out of this discussion (on assessments) is that this problem is a standards issue, not an assessment issue. He thinks the issue of TEKS needs to be discussed. He wants to hear back from the experts on the subject to see if this is just heartburn over something new or do they need to go back and make some tweaks. He says he has mostly heard from parents (not teachers and educators) that there is a problem with math. Teachers and administrators, we need you to e-mail the SBOE!

Ms. Beltram spoke again at 51:43. She says she agrees with Mr. Rowley that this is not an assessment issue but she does not think it is a standards issue either. She thinks this is an implementation issue. The teachers have not been trained. Yep, she blamed the teachers. You really should listen to this statement.

Marisa Perez spoke next at 52:55 and wanted to parrot Ms. Beltran; it is an implementation problem. Ms. Perez said as a member of the Committee on Instruction she had heard complaints from about 20 to 30 parents, but they are all from a concentrated area in Texas, no more than about 50 miles from the capitol. What she has seen in her district is that the standards are great. Ok San Antonio, you need to email the SBOE and let them know what you think…

Ms. Bahorich spoke next (at 53:59) and asked how they check the reading part (the Lexile level) for each grade level to ensure the questions are age appropriate. Ms. Stotsky said they use multiple reading measures that are applied to all reading passages. All of the passages are also teacher reviewed. I am concerned because the way she answered said reading passages and I do not know if this can be taken as confirmation that the math word problems were checked (as I think Ms. Bahorich was asking).

Ms. Bahorich said that many legislators are hearing about the issues with math from constituents, most notable the House Education Committee Chair. She said that the conversation on this issue needed to be continued. She also said that the math academies that are coming will help get teachers trained. No, Ms. Bahorich, training in how to teach bad math will not help the fact that it is still BAD MATH!

Mr. Ratliff spoke next at 57:25. The main complaint he has heard is that parents can’t help their kids with math anymore. So now parents are stupid? I can see what this new math is trying to do and it will not be helpful in upper level math.

Ms. Hardy spoke next (at 58:00) and reiterated that implementation was her point. It makes me so mad that they blame the teachers. Ms. Hardy then said she tutors a student and her student only improved when she started showing him tradition math (learning his multiplication tables). You really cannot make this stuff up. She doesn’t see she just proved to herself the old methods of teaching math are better…

Ms. Hardy then went on to say she doesn’t know if parents are spending the time teaching their kids this background stuff. NO, MS. HARDY… Most parents have an expectation their kids are going to learn in school!

Ms. Hardy says parents should not hold their kids back because we want them to understand how we know math; just accept that someone that knows better than you has now come up with a better way to do math… John and I were having a hard time sitting through this…

Sue Melton-Malone spoke next at 01:00:00. All of the parents and teachers she has spoken to when asked if it is a standards problem or an implementation problem say it is an implementation problem. They haven’t been given the time to catch up. I would believe this coming from teachers that are addressing the fact that many students are behind because TEKS were moved down 2 to 3 grade levels and those students might have missed that instruction. This is no fault of the teachers; it is 100% the fault of poor planning by the SBOE and TEA. But I know there are many teachers that see the problem with over emphasis on process over knowledge and skill. I do think that Ms. Melton-Malone needs to talk to more parents and teachers. Waco, please e-mail the SBOE and Ms. Melton-Malone.

Geraldine (Tincy) Miller spoke at 01:01:30. She said those people on the board (she was not there) for those two years these math TEKS came about made a mistake and she is sick of hearing their defense. Stop blaming the children and the parents. Let’s fix this thing. You voted on something brand new, didn’t train the teachers, and then didn’t phase it in… I love Tincy! She nailed it.

Ms. Perez then spoke again at 01:04:17. Speaking for herself, we are not blaming parents, we are not blaming students, this is not what this is… But I do not think we should tell them they cannot do it and we need to lower the expectations. No, Ms. Perez, this new math did not raise the bar; this new math covered up the bar.

And with that the discussion ended at 01:05:30. I think the look on Mr. Ratliff’s face says it all at the end.

Please e-mail all of the SBOE members at and let them know what you think about the new math TEKS.”


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