New Texas Math Standards Look Strangely Familiar

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Texas just released new math standards and according to Sarah Garland of The Hechinger Report they look a lot like the Common Core Math Standards.

She writes:

The Texas standards aren’t the same as the Common Core State Standards, adopted by more than 40 states. It’s actually illegal to teach Common Core in Texas.

But even in a state that said an emphatic “No!” to Common Core, the new math standards here are pretty similar to the standards the state rejected, experts say. Across the Lone Star State, as in the rest of the nation, number lines are replacing pizzas in lessons about fractions and lectures are losing out to rambunctious lessons in which kids seem to run the show.

And more teachers here are overhauling math class so that it’s not just about getting answers right or wrong, it’s about the joy and challenge of hunting for a solution, whether or not students find it on the first try.

“Really that’s what I was going for. Not that they would get it. That if this is too heavy, I need to find something lighter,” Demore said later about the lesson. “The idea of looking, of inquiring, of trying. The idea of the journey. It may or may not lead to a right answer, but it will certainly lead to better thinking and reasoning. And that’s one of the things they need to get to.”

That idea reflects a consensus across the U.S., and is the reason math classes everywhere are starting to look more alike, even in schools untouched by the Common Core.

“There is a much greater research base about how children learn … mathematical functions than existed 20, 30 years ago,” said Mark Ellis, a professor of math education at California State University, Fullerton. “The overall picture of what mathematics looks like is converging on this idea that it’s not the teacher standing there for 30 minutes, then giving you 20 problems to replicate the algorithm.”

I haven’t taken time to compare the two sets of standards to determine how similar they really are. This news, however, doesn’t surprise me. First, fuzzy math and the like have existed before Common Core and it will exist after Common Core.  What is deemed a fresh, new trend is just an older idea rebranded.

Second, when Texas applied for a No Child Left Behind waiver they claimed that their standards were aligned with Common Core. From their request submitted on September 26, 2013 (prior to the new math standards).

The comparison, conducted by the Educational Policy Improvement Center and involving teams of higher education and public school educators and content educators, found that the Texas standards are more comprehensive than the Common Core standards, including additional areas of college readiness that are missing from the national standards. Overall, Texas standards in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics matched 92% and 75% of those in Common Core Standards, respectively.

If the math standards in TEKS were 75% aligned prior to the new standards it’s not surprising the new math standards would be even more aligned.

Texas is similar to Virginia whose standards are also closely aligned to the Common Core, at least neither state followed Alaska’s lead who initially rejected Common Core and then practically plagiarized it when they released their new standards.