By Robert Floyd, Executive Director of TMEA
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
In 1995 the Required Curriculum, which defines what subjects all school districts must offer per Chapter 28 of the Code, was bifurcated into the foundation and enrichment curriculum – the foundation subjects being mathematics, science, English language arts and social studies. The enrichment subjects are languages other than English, fine arts, economics, technology applications, health and physical education, and career and technology education.
Chapter 28 further states that as a condition of accreditation, school districts must utilize the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in delivering instruction in the foundation subjects. In the enrichment curriculum, however, the TEKS are only “guidelines” to be followed. Since the TEKS are only guidelines for enrichment subjects, meaningful, sequential, rigorous instruction has suffered in many school districts.
STATEMENT OF GOAL
The purpose of this bill is to mandate that the TEKS (what students should know and be able to do in a particular course) must be used as the basis for writing curriculum and delivering instruction in ALL subjects of the Required Curriculum – not just the foundation subjects of mathematics, science, English language arts and social studies. This bill does not ask for an assessment requirement on the TAKS in any subject of the enrichment curriculum.
REFERENCE TO PRIOR BILLS
A variation of this bill has been filed the previous two sessions. It passed the House on a 2-1 margin in 1999 but was denied a hearing in the Senate Education Committee during each of the last two sessions.
Standards are the cornerstone for improving student achievement and are the guidance for curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional development.
Standards create equity from district to district in terms of what a student should know and be able to do in a particular subject. With such a mobile student population, this is an important issue to minimize drop-out and improve a student’s opportunity for success in a new setting.
If a subject is important enough to be required (defined as what all school districts must offer), and both the foundation subjects and enrichment subjects are indeed required by law to be offered, then it seems that districts should follow standards in delivering instruction.
The emphasis on the foundation subjects of mathematics, science, English language arts and social studies in 1995 “righted the ship” and now it is time to restore balance to a child’s education and assure a rigorous curriculum in every subject a student takes.
Federal legislation – No Child Left Behind – lists the core academic subjects as English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography. Under current law in Texas there are no mandated standards that districts must follow in delivering instruction for three of these subjects – foreign languages, the arts, and economics. This bill would address that issue.
The Recommended Program, now the default graduation plan, contains requirements in several enrichment subjects. It seems only appropriate that the TEKS should be followed in courses that contribute to the awarding of the state diploma in Texas.
ORGANIZATIONS WHO SUPPORTED SB 815
Texas Music Educators Association
Texas Coalition for Quality Arts Education
Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association
Texas Association of Secondary School Principals
Texas Association of Rural Schools
Texas Art Education Association
Texas Foreign Language Association
Association of Texas and Professional Educators
Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Texas Bandmasters Association
Texas Orchestra Directors Association
Texas Choral Directors Association
Texas Computer Education Association
Texas Classroom Teachers Association
Texas Dance Educators Association
Texas Educational Theatre Association
Texas Music Educators Conference
Texas Music Administrators Conference
American Heart Association
Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development