30 Jan

Common Core Standards in Colorado

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of educational standards that ensure every students, beginning from K-12, are well prepared in mathematics and English language for college, and equipped with the right skills to meet with the high demands of the work place globally. With the adoption and implementation of these standards, graduates will be able to compete with their counterparts from other parts of the world. Common Core State Standards increase accuracy in schools and provide the students with all they need to know after graduating from high school. Currently, 45 out of the states in the US, the District of Colombia, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoan Islands, and the Anchorage, AK School District have adopted the Common Core State Standards. These Common Core initiative is led by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA), in partnership with teachers, higher learning experts, educational organizations, and researchers from several places within the country.

The Common Core standards are grouped into two categories which include the K-12 standards that address the different grade level expectation of every student in the learning process; and the college and career readiness standards that equip student with the basic skills needed for college or career. One of the benefits of these standards include ensuring all students become proficient when it comes to reading English language and mathematics, before the school calendar year runs out.

COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS IN COLORADO

In August 2010, the Colorado State Board of Education adopted the standards. When publishing the Colorado Academic Standards for Writing and Communicating, Mathematics and Reading in December 2010, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) also included the entire Common Core State Standards. Despite the inclusion of the CCSS, the CDE still maintain its Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) which include preschool expectations, 21st century skills, personal financial literacy and knowledgeable and highly skilled graduates.

BENEFITS OF COMMON CORE STANDARDS TO A CHILD IN COLORADO

  • Just like the Colorado Academic Standards, the CCSS is an internationally benchmarked standard that prepare every students to become successful and take on the challenges in our global economy and society. These standards are likened to those found in top performing countries around the world.
  • The CCSS is designed with principles and instructional shifts that is matched with the priorities and intent of Colorado Achievement Plan For Kids (CAP4K) to offer a coherent set of expectation, identify skills students’ need to meet with the challenges of college, while also ensuring that student will be workforce ready.
  • The Common Core standards provide consistent learning target in a mobile society for each grade level. It also help create stability across county and states, especially for students who relocate from one place to the other, due to economic and personal reasons

BENEFITS OF COMMON CORE STARE STANDARD TO SCHOOLS AND DISTRICTS IN COLORADO

  • These shared standard brings a solution to the increased demand for higher quality instructional resources. Through collaborative efforts among states, teachers and students in Colorado benefit immensely from the high-quality educational materials designed specifically to be in line with the shared standards, rather than having to utilize instructional materials designed for a bigger market.
  • With the use of the same standard across the country, collaboration will be enhanced. Teachers in Colorado can now collaborate with other states that shares the same standard in designing common resources that will further enhance learning. It will also improve the efficiency of teachers and the quality of learning tools
  • The CCSS is also designed to enhance the ability and improve the skills of teachers and students, as it requires them to use of a wealth of online tools and resources. Students in Colorado will be acquainted with a wide-range of online learning tools, making the learning process easy and fun. Some of the devices used in classrooms to facilitate the learning process include software, iPads, laptops and the internet. These tools are used in Common Core lessons to achieve educational objective of preparing the students for college life and workplace. The Common Core standards offers students the opportunity to have access to the same rigorous learning process and academic content, regardless of their location. With the use of technological advanced learning materials in Colorado classrooms, students’ academic performance will be improved and can also be measured across participating states.

These standards are evidence based and field tested to provide a solid foundation in preparing students in Colorado schools for the future. Designed using the highest international standards, the CCSS will take Colorado Academic Standards to the next level.

Education standards often vary from state to state. Many at times, teachers find it difficult to implement these standards in the classroom, and it can also be overwhelming for parents to support their child’s learning at home. Since the adoption of the new Common Core State Standards in Colorado, teachers and parents can assist a child achieve his or her goals in their classroom and at home. Before the introduction of the Common Core standards, the quality of education varies depending on the location, and this might be difficult for families who are highly mobile, especially military families. States with high-performing standards have students that pass all the basic test and graduating, yet unable to meet the requirements of college and workplace. For this reason, the college and career ready standards of the CCSS are very important factors that help students graduate with the basic skills and get them ready for college and the economy. Every student in Colorado need rigorous academics to become graduates that can compete with their colleagues not only in the next state, but also with those from the world all over. The new assessment tests in Colorado, including the Colorado Measures of Academic Success or CMAS and PARCC assessments, will begin in the Spring of 2015.

The goal of the Common Core State Standards is to ensure an excellent education for students across the country, regardless of where they reside. These standards help students improve their reading level to what they will experience in post-secondary and career. Specialized instructional staff and teachers are saddled with the responsibility to deliver high-quality, individualized instruction, and evidence-based services, using assistive technology devices.

27 Jan

How Common Core Has Changed Education in Arkansas

The Common Core standards help in ensuring that students are better equipped with the basic skills and knowledge to prepare them for postsecondary education and life in general. Graduates from Arkansas schools compete with students from around the world for employment opportunities. To be able to meet with the demands of college and the working environment, Common Core has been introduced to provide students with the critical thinking and problem solving skills they’ll need to become successful in life.   As students in grades 3 through 8 begin a new school year, teachers are set to ensure an improvement in their academic achievements.

Arkansas officially adopted the standards in 2010. The Common Core initiatives are the latest step in Arkansas to improve educational standards. These standards are state-led efforts that ensures the skills and knowledge required for real-world success are taught in schools. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards in Arkansas schools, teachers are becoming more effective and efficient.

Knowledge and skills enhancement

Most graduates are not equipped with the basic knowledge and skills to succeed in college or enter the work force. These standards provide supports for teachers in ensuring that all students, regardless of their location, will graduate with the necessary skills and prepare them for college and citizenship.

Enhances Cross Curricular Learning

These standards has made teachers learn new methods of teaching and ensure students learn more about other subject areas. It’s all about integrating these subjects with other disciplines such as English and Literacy, or science, social studies and math. The Common Core standards are designed to promote cross-curricular learning. It offers teachers the chance to share ideas with colleagues in different classrooms.

Provision of quality resource tools

The Common Core standards has made provision for a wealth of online tools and resources for teachers. These tools will enhance the learning process and also allow for proper implementation of the standards. Arkansas teachers and will be able to benefit from and have good knowledge of the wide-range of teaching resources. Some of the highly advanced tools that may be used in a variety of setting include software, internet, iPads and education headphones. For instance, many districts that have adopted the Common Core, including Arkansas, make use of technological devices such as laptops and tablets in classrooms. These computer based programs taught in common core lessons makes the use of headphones very important to complete several online tests that incorporate videos.

Increased accuracy for students in Arkansas

Ever since the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, there has been an increase in the level of academic accuracy. The use of technology and authenticity of lessons has brought an improved performance in students’ academic achievements.

Comparing schools test

These standards compare the performance of students in schools, across several states in the country based on their test results. Before the initiative, results cannot be compared beyond the borders of Arkansas. The assessment is done using the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data.

 

 

20 Jan

PARCC: What You Need to Know

PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is a group currently consisting of 13 states joined together to produce assessments on par with the Common Core State Standards to judge if students are on track to pursuing eventual successful results in both college and their future careers. Like most major exams given by colleges, the PARCC is entirely computer-based. Unlike higher exams, it is built for grades K-12. Once taken, the teacher is immediately alerted to each child’s progress and problem areas, allowing for a more fluid approach to teaching core concepts.

kid-with-headphones-testing

Who

Originally launched during the 2010-11 school year, Arkansas, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island have been working together to develop it into a fully formed test that officially launched this 2014-15 year. In addition, Pennsylvania is noted as a “participating” state since it has not officially decided to use the assessment but has a vested interest in developing a strong product. Altogether, this covers no less than 12 million public schools throughout America. With the combined efforts of so many supervisors and teachers, they are able to continually craft and change an assessment that holds children to the higher standards required by the world at large to achieve success.

Good and Bad

While created with only the best intentions in mind, it would be unfair to assume such a new program has gone off entirely without any form of negative feedback. The largest hurdle is, understandably, trying to change the public’s view that this is more than just wasted resources put toward yet another “standardized test” that will fail to do what is intended. Like most of its kind, it is limited in what information it reveals about the students. Tests, after all, cannot truly determine if the students both understand the subject and know how to apply it to external stimuli. In addition, what of those students who are hampered by their home life? Not every child can or will be intellectually superior, and it’s time to stop treating that fact as a negative. On the other hand, it is the first test of its kind to provide teachers with up-to-date information in regards to where their students need help. Instead of forcing standardized curriculums on every class no matter its make-up, it bolsters a teacher’s ability to adapt lessons to their current situation. Some classes will be much better at math while others will have trouble. Why punish either through a static curriculum?

For the Parents

If you still find yourself worried about the test, the PARCC website offers you not only a comprehensive FAQ section but a sample test in the format it is administered to the students. Each grade level has a set number of examples covering both math and English to give you an in depth sense of what your student will be undergoing on a regular basis. If you still need more information, join their Facebook group either through their website or Facebook’s. This will provide you with recent articles in addition to keeping you informed about test dates.

The Future is Still Unwritten

PARCC is shaping up to be the integration of standardized testing and technology. Because of this, it’s not entirely fair to refer to it as such. Instead of being a once a year frustration for students, teachers and parents alike, this new evolution of testing is set to keep everyone on track throughout the course of the year under the idea that better progress can be made in smaller increments. While the idea certainly holds promise, there remain a vast array of those decrying it as yet another way to stifle students that are already excelling or putting undue pressure on those that flounder. If history has taught us anything, however, is that you can’t force a child to succeed any more than you can force one to fail.

17 Jan

Common Core Not a Sure Thing in Maine

Three years after its adoption in 2011, the fate of the Common Core standards is still uncertain in Maine. Designed as a federal means to track the entire country’s academic progress, not everyone is on board with its ultimate goal.

The Common Core

Tracking progress of students from Kindergarten to 12th grade, Common Core is a national standards system, regulating the subjects of math and English language arts across the country. Adopted by many states in 2011, there are now 43 that still adhere to it, with other states, like Indiana and Oklahoma, deciding to drop it after a time. The soul of the idea is very similar to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 in that by implementing nationwide standards, all students will be better prepared to take on the rigors of college and, indeed, get into better colleges no matter where they are from. Every year the students are tested on the benchmark knowledge to ensure they have mastered the tools necessary to succeed in the subsequent years where that knowledge is then expanded upon.

For the Core

The biggest push for Maine to adopt the plan was the financial help from the $4.35 billion Race to the Top competition sponsored by the Obama administration. Even still, a comparison by Fordham Institute shows that Maine’s curriculum was below that of Common Core. Their English earned a B+ while math only got a C. The biggest issues cited with Maine’s educational track was its neglect of important concepts all throughout the high school curriculum. In addition, many teachers see the standards as a wonderful way to clarify expectations so to better prepare students for the higher levels of academia. It holds everyone accountable, and even though some would say it only puts undue strain on the littlest ones, teachers are finding them more than ready to take on and succeed at a more challenging level.

Against Adoption

Yet all that glitters is not gold. Common Core has riled up for more dissenters over the past few years, even though its adoption in 2011 was unanimous. Among the loudest is No Common Core Maine, a group gathering signatures to force a referendum that would get rid of Common Core. One of their tenants is that Common Core is corporatized and otherwise invites the government and big business to impede on states’ rights. As of now, however, this petition is still trying to get enough support. The teachers speaking out against it have the growing concern that obsession of hitting federally ascribed markers will only dilute the quality of education the students are receiving. Because they must spend so much time teaching only the Common Core standards, other critical bits of information are being glossed over entirely. Governor LePage has even recently spoken out against the system, citing Massachusetts’ adoption and subsequent fall from grace as the previously top ranked school system in the nation.

Maine’s adoption of Common Core has done nothing but spark healthy debate over the legitimacy of the government’s extension of power over state school systems. Though the program is still in its infancy and far from structurally sound, the idea it presents is an important one to consider. Right now, states determine their own standards. While this has led to incredible feats of academia in various systems around the country, many of the forgotten schools fall far behind in terms of preparation for the best colleges. Some say remedying this is only possible if all systems are united while others rightfully argue such a move would stifle potential for success. Whatever the outcome is, Maine is a key player in molding the future of schools.

07 Jan

Arizona: In Control with Common Core

Common Core has shaped the educational policies of nearly every school Arizona, since it was first brought up for discussion. Between the goals of improving educational access, and raising standards across the board, Common Core has proven to be one of the most effective quasi-Federal initiatives put forward since No Child Left Behind.

A consequence of this has been the shifting in equipment made available for purchase and use in Arizona classrooms. Tools, textbooks, and instruction guides are all geared towards handling these national standards. Here are some of the things that Common Core has changed, regardless of whether or not the local area has implemented the changes.

Educational Aides are now cheaper, and more thought out.

School headphones were first utilized in hearing tests several decades ago. As educators experimented in the use of recordings in the classroom, the uses of these industrial strength headphones grew.

Thanks to the emphasis on obtaining quality education for all students, regardless of disability, lessons have been formed to help every sort of learner reach their highest potential. School headphones are now used in nearly every subject, personalizing the lesson to the student in a way that does not distract the rest of the class.

Textbooks are now more geared to a national setting

For a long period, Texas controlled the textbooks used in this nation due to their large budget. With national standards dictated by educators in numerous states, this power has been broken. Teachers in Arizona no longer have to fear what one elected official from another state can do to their curriculum. Emphasis is now placed on actual proven content, rather than the political machinations of a select few from towns few have heard of. Since standards can be raised above the minimums, educational policy is now back in the hands of the people of Arizona, rather than other states with larger budgets.

 

20 Dec

Common Core Brings Conceptual Comprehension and Problem Solving to California

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has currently been adopted by 40 states, including California. The primary difference between California’s previous curriculum and the Common Core—is that CCSS focuses more on conceptual comprehension and problem solving. To gain a further understanding of how this has changed education in the state of California—continue reading.

More Technology In The Classroom

There are a few ways that CCSS affects technology in the classroom. Technology will now be used more for class room assignments, testing, and even homework. The increased use of technology will ensure that students learn the computer skills and electronic communication skills required in today’s workforce. This also means that students will require school headphones to ensure that the audio does not overwhelm the classroom. Many students will also choose to have a secondary set of school headphones for home use, meaning that students will need access to a computer after school hours.

Less Subjects Of Studycalifornia-160550_640

California has always had an increased focus on mathematics, English, science, and history—but the new curriculum leaves less room for more elective subjects. What this means is that the subjects of study that remain within the curriculum will be studied with greater depth. However, this also means that the lower exposure to elective subjects and broader understanding of primary subjects provides students less areas of interest that they may excel in personally.

New Testing Standards And Metrics

With the new CCSS curriculum, comes new standards and metrics of testing to determine if the curriculum is successfully—and 2014 will be the first year that the new CCSS testing will be introduced. While this comes as no surprise, the shift to CCSS testing standards is likely to garner lower test scores for the first several years of testing. The reasons are twofold—the curriculum is new therefore students have not yet had time to benefit, and teachers are still tweaking and perfecting their new curricula.

Less Creativity In The Curriculum

While teachers must always deliver a curriculum that meets high standards, they used to have far more freedom within their lesson plans. With CCSS teachers only have 15% room for their own creativity, and the remaining 85% must meet standards. Teachers will also have to adjust their teaching style to include an increased focus on utilizing technology in teaching—where a larger portion of communication is written or delivered through audio via school headphones.

Additional Funding

Funding is always of concern for public schools, and more of an issue for some school districts than others. To help with CCSS planning, training, and curriculum development California schools have received an additional $1.25 billion in the 2013 to 2014 budget. These funds will play a vital role in the success of the new curriculum—and even the overall success of improving education as a whole.

Ongoing Changes Over The Next Few Years

Changing school curricula is not something that happens overnight, and even with the additional funding—the new lessons plans created by teachers will need tweaking to perfect. Not only that, all teachers will require additional time to get comfortable with their new lessons plans. The first few rounds of national testing will help teachers to identify their areas of opportunity, as well as the new standards for general classroom testing and results.

Below are just a few ways in which the new Common Core State Standards have changed education in California. More will be learned about the success of the roll out as the first few rounds of standardized tests scores come in.

16 Dec

Impacts of the common core standards in Alabama

Adopted in all but seven states, Common Core is the new standard by which the nation will measure itself together and to the rest of the world. By assigning benchmarks to each grade that has to be passed, every child, no matter their location, will be receiving the education they need in language arts and math to truly be ready to take on the next years of school and beyond. Ultimately leading toward global measurements, Common Core is providing America a means by which its schools can be equal for the first time in the school system’s existence. Adopted in 2010, Alabama initially took it as a step toward progress, however, the state rescinded its support, citing the fear of federal intrusion. Even so, their curriculum is aligned to Common Core standards.

Mathematics

Even though it is now gone, it has left a lasting effect on the state’s educational rigors for the two main subjects it targets: math and English language arts. As far as math goes, the curriculum is undergoing change even at the earliest level of Kindergarten. The youngest scholars will begin focusing on something known as a “number core.” This simply means tying together how numbers relate to quantities and the basics of addition and subtraction. Then, up to and including fifth grade, the math becomes a bit more complex. The basics of multiplication, division, addition and subtractions are built upon, eventually leading to the introduction of complexities. These include fractions, decimals, negatives numbers and geometry. Middle school is set to cement these processes through hands-on learning. From algebra and geometry to probability and statistics, more than just pencil and paper will be utilized to help each child understand the complexities of evolving math. This will end up being very beneficial to those students who are visually and spatially inclined. The entire purpose is to have every student prepared for Algebra I in eighth grade, not just those students that are considered gifted. Finally, high school compounds upon the knowledge, using it to address real world situations with the purpose of developing better decision making.

Language Arts

While math is essential for general financial planning, English is the core of communication, a skill that serves its purpose well until we expire. Unlike math with its structured step-by-step learning progression from K through 12, English is a bit more liquid, opting instead to hit goals versus milestones. The most important listed is that the reading list will be far broader, containing classics, contemporary pieces and challenging informational reads. From these, the students will be taught to analyze everything, searching for knowledge, insight, possibilities and expanding perspective (a feat the south isn’t exactly well known for). Reading lists have been done away with, but the main foundational documents of America and Western culture will be focused on to give the students a sense of where they come from and why thoughts have evolved as they have. The most defined objective language arts has is to start teaching analysis at the youngest grade possible. This will well prepare the children for writing research papers and defending their opinion as they push higher and higher. In addition, speaking and listening skills will obtain a much more important emphasis. Originating from group discussions and formal presentations, students will be taught the importance of verbal communication. Finally, vocabulary growth will continue to be encouraged, and media and technology will be focused on with much importance as so much of what we do is now reliant upon it.

Though Common Core may be gone, it has still left a lasting impact on Alabama. They have realized their past standards are no longer good enough to produce students that can compete with the rest of the nation much less the rest of the world. Knowing this, they have decided to keep the standards left behind. By providing each child a fighting chance at success, Alabama is ensuring its students have a hopeful tomorrow that can be achieved.

24 Nov

Common Core and Florida’s Creative Education System

The effects of Common Core in Florida are mixed to date, and really the opinion changes with each person that you ask. While this attempt to implement a common set of educational standards in all 50 states was adopted in Florida in 2010, it still remains somewhat controversial.

Ultra-conservatives have viewed Common Core as another assault on State’s Rights and another forced reach by the Federal government to set all States under its thumb. However, not all conservatives feel this way.

Moderate conservatives and even left-leaning liberals have voiced agreement with the overall stated goals of Common Core, in that it tries to bring a level standard of education across all 50 States. The goal seems innocent and honorable enough on first glance, but some voters on both sides of the aisle balk at any attempt to thwart the rights of the individual states by the federal leaders.

While most states have adopted Common Core, two have already repealed the law, due to public pressure. In Florida, there is talk of having the law amended to become a more Florida-friendly standard, and thus keeping our own identity. Ultra-Conservatives are crying foul at this attempt, claiming that it is still the same plan underneath.

Some liberal voters claim that the standards were not enough, and were holding back the creativity of our Florida educators. However, it seems that they are also concerned about the standardized testing in the Common Core program. They claim there is already too much testing in Florida schools. They say that too much is tied to the outcome of a test; things like school rankings, teachers pay raises and promotions, and even student graduations, for example.

The Common Core testing is still in development, and thus critics are asking that it be fully completed before hanging so much on the results.

Parents are becoming increasingly frustrated with Common Core, and the future of the program in Florida is still in doubt as of this writing. As their voices become louder, the program may have to be altered from its present state to something that is more Florida-friendly. At this time, no one is certain what that would look like, either.

Opting-out is a choice that has been championed for those parents that are extremely opposed to the Common Core program, but even that solution presents its own problem: teaching to a mixed classroom of program-learning students. Is home-schooling the only option for those students then?

Hopefully the dust will settle within the next legislative session, but no one is willing to bet on that right now.

27 Oct

Businesses of Tomorrow Will Benefit from the Use of Technology in Schools Today

Technology is known to be any tool used to improve the human learning process. Some of these tools include – but not limited to- video cameras, tablets, smart boards, laptops and computers. These tools have proved useful to a vast number of people during regular daily routines, and also have great impact on students learning process.  As we go further into the modernized world, technology is turning out to be increasingly integrated into our society. Smart phones and tablets are now commonplace, and are taking the place of computers and laptops. The introduction and rapid adoption of these technological innovations has brought changes to the way businesses operate, including how we impact knowledge on students in their various classrooms.

What benefits does businesses get from the use of technology in schools today?

Technology benefits the business world by making it possible for companies to maximize productivity and work more efficiently. The introduction of the use of technology into the classroom has helped so many students in preparing for the future and the world at large. The specific benefits businesses are expected to get from the use of technology in classrooms include:

  • Making students more focused for a long period of time. The use of laptops and computers to search for data/information using the internet has actually saved a lot of time and energy especially when used to conduct a comprehensive research. With this, the student will spend a great amount of time learning the project and they will also develop even better and gain focus through exploration and research. This will improve their skill and help them accomplish whatever task assigned to them in a timely manner.
  • Students become more anxious to learn. With the integration of technology into schools, ipad-407799_640learners will probably gain more interest and a bit anxious to know more about the various topics they are studying. For instance, streaming of educational videos and use of virtual lessons for subjects such as science and math will more likely increase the student’s interest in a particular subject. They will be anxious to acquire more knowledge in order to improve their level of productivity and become more efficient.
  • Students are able to learn at their own pace. Technology enables students get instruction directly from the computer. This makes the learner self-directed in the learning process and allows access to information they find most appropriate. Technology has to do with the use of computers which nearly every business organization is dependent. Since computers are so widely used in schools, the student will be able to do large amount of work in a timely manner and it will also help develop good ICT skills needed by any corporate organization.
  • It help students prepare for the future. Use of technology in the classroom will help students develop workplace skills that are essential for the modern economy. Learners will be able to solve complex problems, develop leadership and good communication skills, and improve their level of productivity. These are some of the skills needed by top business organizations today.

Technology allows businesses share information faster with fewer resources.  With the integration of technology in schools, students learn at their own pace, gain more experience, and develop leadership, good communication and ICT skills needed by corporate organizations in the 21st century.

10 Oct

Common Core Standards vs Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills

Teachers in Texas have a guiding standard to use when writing lesson plans, when establishing a schedule and setting the pace for learning particular content. It’s called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS. TEKS governs every subject matter taught in Texas and tells teachers what specific skill to teach at a given time. For example, with reading, a middle school 6th grader has to know how to find the main idea in a reading passage, how to compute mathematical algorithms, how to test scientific theories, how to identify geographic locations of varied societies and more. Texas is one of the states that elected not to participate in Common Core Curriculum. To clarify that, it passed the House, but Governor Rick Perry banned it with House Bill (HB) 462.

The TEKS are provided using particular language, and every single one has a unique TEKS number.

However, things get even more specific within the content areas. For example, to take the main idea requirement a little further, a students in 6th grade may start the year off reading informational text and summarizing the main idea and the supporting ideas in that text. Students will learn how to keep opinions out of main idea summarizations, and they learn to do this through practice. Later in the year, the student will need to read expository text and summarize the main idea and supporting ideas in that text. Expository text will likely be more complex, and typically involves Science and Social Studies passages. By scheduling expository text later in the year, planners anticipate that the student will have gained mastery of main idea using the simpler text periodically; and then graduating to expository text when they’ve gained the necessary skill. This is because they will need to have to wade through the complexities of the expository text itself later in the year. If students have mastered main idea, they won’t have trouble with it using varied text. Practice is what will get them to the destination called mastery.

There are even TEKS in physical education. For that same 6th grader, they will need to demonstrate the ability to do activities in a smooth, flowing sequence. The way it reads, they have to “perform sequences that combine traveling, rolling, balancing, and weight transfer into smooth, flowing sequences.” A PE teacher may have to have them practice each individual skill until they master it. Otherwise, when it’s time to do them all in a flowing sequence, they will have much trouble.

The language starts off with words to the effect of, “The student will be able to,” or “The student is expected to.” From there the language completes the sentence beginning with a verb such as demonstrate, conduct, identify, describe, express, etc.

One example for health education for a 6th grader might read like this: The student is expected to analyze healthy and unhealthy dietary practices. Another one reads as follows: The student is expected to compare immediate and long-range effects of personal health care choices such as personal and dental hygiene.

To piggyback off of that last TEKS described, the student learns compare and contrast using reading passages in their reading classes. According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, compare and contrast are higher order skills, and a student who is able to do it well has learned information at a deeper level called synthesis. In addition, the student learns in reading what compare and contrast mean, and how that signals distinguishing similarities and differences. It is often practiced using a Venn Diagram, which is a special graphic organizer of interlocking hoops. If students were to compare and contrast bats and blue jays, the students use the sides and middle to complete the exercise. One side is labeled bats, the other side is labeled blue jays and the middle is labeled similarities. On the side labeled bats, the students will write or otherwise list the things that are true of bats, but not blue jays. On the side labeled blue jays, they will list or write the things that are true of blue jays, but not bats. In the middle, where the loops overlap, they will write things that are true of both.

The truth about TEKS is that they are specific enough to guide teachers in their state’s curriculum, ensure that students are taught content that is specific for their grade level, and builds from year-to-year.