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SBOE: State needs better alignment between high school and college curriculum
By Marissa Barnett
AUSTIN–State high school curriculum standards, particularly in math and science, need to better align with college expectations, key education officials told lawmakers Monday.
At a Texas Senate committee meeting on higher education, State Board of Education Chair Barbara Cargill said that the board has no way to be certain whether state curriculum standards—Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)—are conforming to state College Career Readiness Standards.
The perception, according to other speakers Monday, is that what students are being taught and what colleges expect don’t always line up. They said there needs to be more coordination between faculties at all levels when writing the curriculum.
“We frequently hear that it is disjointed,” said Shirley Reed, president of South Texas College. “We simply need to bring the faculty of our public schools as well as our community colleges and universities to sit down and actually do greater alignment.”
“There is still a disconnect that we all must concede,” she said.
Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, questioned education officials on math in particular. Of 22 so-called TEKS knowledge tests in math, 20 are related to math functions, while just two are related to equations. However, coursework in community colleges expects that students have a background and solid understanding of equations.
“That’s an inconsistency,” Zaffirini said.
Greg Smith of the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium, a 23-member panel that works with the SBOE to develop curriculum standards, responded that equations are not what high school math teachers are required to teach despite the focus community college puts on it.
Of the three recommendations he submitted to lawmakers, one included examining TEKS for consistency with College Career Readiness Standards. The others were to evaluate the effectiveness of the Texas Success Initiative, an assessment test students take before enrolling in college classes, and to develop future learning standards in partnership with state colleges and universities.
“The recommendations are good, but they all seem so basic,” Zaffirini said, adding that the agencies should already be evaluating whether high school curriculum is in line with state College Career Readiness Standards.
“It’s not being done at the level that would ease everyone’s mind about college readiness,” Smith said of the state’s current evaluation process.
Last week, The Dallas Morning News reported that high school students hit a 22-year low in SAT scores. Their scores were significantly behind the national average as well.
Questioned about the performance, Cargill said the board was aware and concerned about the scores.