Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Closing the Learning Gaps: Strategies to ensure your students will be successful with the new TEKS

By Brea Ratliff, RME Secondary Math Research Coordinator

The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) are the state standards that identify the information students should learn and the academic proficiencies they should demonstrate in each grade level or course. The newly adopted math TEKS are evidence of increased expectations for mathematics education in the state of Texas. Although several changes have been incorporated into the math TEKS, our students do not have to enter the next grade or course with gaps in their understanding of mathematics. As educators, we are charged with the difficult task of meeting students where they are through our reflective practice, which includes the development of instructional techniques designed to support students as they learn mathematics. The biggest, and perhaps the most important step in this process, is for educators and administrators alike to analyze and become familiar with the new math TEKS. In this blog series, we will examine strategies to help teachers and students experience success with the new math TEKS.

Strategy 1: Identify your resources

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has published several resources for math teachers and administrators to help them transition into teaching the new math TEKS. These resources can be used to plan lessons, develop an understanding of the knowledge and skills addressed in a particular grade level / course, and foster conversations with parents and other stakeholders in your community about the changes in the state math standards.
  • Side-by-Side TEKS Comparison - this document compares the revised TEKS (adopted in 2012) to the previously adopted TEKS (revised in 2006) and allows the reader to see all of the major changes and shifts made to the math content and mathematical process standards. Documents for grades K through 8, Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 are available on Project Share. (Side-by-Side TEKS)
  • Vertical alignment charts - TEA has published four vertical alignment documents, which organize the TEKS by major concepts and show how these ideas are connected across grade levels / courses. These charts can also be accessed on Project Share. (Vertical Alignment)
  • STAAR Mathematics Resources - changes in the math standards have also impacted the state mathematics assessments. The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) assessments Assessed Curriculum, Blueprints, and Reference Materials documents have been updated to reflect these changes. (STAAR Math Resources)
  • Texas Response to Curriculum Focal Points - Revised in 2013, this document guides mathematics teachers in understanding the topics within each grade level that require the most emphasis, and can be used to inform instructional pacing and lesson development. This document is also available on Project Share. (TXRCFP)
After reviewing these resources, please share any questions or comments you might have with us via email or on Twitter (@RME_SMU). In the next blog, we will examine how these documents can be used to impact math instruction, with a specific emphasis on Number and Operation.