Education Week Findings Support Breitbart Texas Reports on Common Core in Texas

Texas never adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) but teachers use Common Core-aligned instructional materials (IM’s). This week Education Week called out the Lone Star state as one of four non-Common Core states where the Fed Led Ed agenda “crept into the classroom.”

Their findings support 2014 Breitbart Texas coverage on Common Core IM’s popping up in public school classrooms statewide, despite legislation and an attorney general opinion to ensure there would be no Common Core in Texas.

The K-12 e-zine named Texas, Alaska, Nebraska, and Virgina as the four non-Common Core chronic downloaders of Common Core mathematics and English Language Arts teacher material.

However, they placed Texas in the top five states of number of users on BetterLesson, a Common Core materials lesson-sharing site, “making up about five percent of all users.”

Education Week noted that Texans downloaded 83,000 IM’s from Common Core site EngageNY, accounted for one percent of visits to Illustrative Mathematics, a website credited to the lead writer of Common Core math, Bill McCallum; and they made 1.4 percent of cyber-visits to Student Achievement Partners, the group founded by Common Core architect David Coleman, who plays double duty as College Board President.

The College Board owns and administers the SAT, Advanced Placement (AP), and the “high school” equivalency test, the general education development (GED). These products and the ACT are aligned with Common Core standards.

Student Achievement Partners Digital Director Lisa Goldschmidt did not believe people used their materials specifically because they were Common Core but because “they offer things that make sense to teachers.”

Education Week suggests that Texas Common Core IM downloads stem from Houston KIPP charter schools, whose 22 local networked schools use a math curriculum based on Common Core-aligned Eureka Math with “modifications to align” with the state standards, the Texas Essential Skills and Knowledge (TEKS).

KIPP Shine Prep Houston BetterLesson master teacher Sarah Maffei developed a year’s worth of Common Core lessons for the site. She expressed the ease of openly implementing Common Core materials in Texas, according to the article, although, even in Texas, charter schools are public schools and they are required to teach the TEKS and administer annual state mandated exams the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR).

Common Core downloaders-at-large can be in any Texas school district.

Last year, when Breitbart Texas reported on Common Core instructional materials in Texas public school classrooms, they surfaced in a variety of IM’s, often found by parents in take-home folders, reading intervention packets, in Common Core editions of Sadlier vocabulary primers, SpringBoard learning programs, Carnegie math, and even in social media classroom assignments. It also reared its head in teacher professional development.

District spokespeople chalked these mishaps up to flukes, claimed the IM’s came from a teacher’s own resources, advised that the misguided educator was admonished, and swore the district followed the TEKS and not the Common Core. They were always confident these incidents would not happen again.

Texas Education Agency (TEA) spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson previously told Breitbart Texas “the local districts have the authority to purchase (IM’s) from either the State Board of Education (SBOE) approved list, a locally adopted list, online materials and/or e-materials.”

Maffei told Education Week, “As long as you can defend that you’re teaching your state’s standards—you’re just aligning it to the more in-depth problem-solving approach to thinking—I don’t think there’s any downside to using Common Core materials.”

Being the most “well-vetted and widely available” materials “often lining up nicely with a state’s non-Common Core standards” was a chief reason for Texas teachers’ use of Common Core IM’s given by the weekly funded by Common Core all-stars including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The new TEKS math has generated much controversy with its similarities to Common Core math. The Dallas Morning News reported on an unnamed state curriculum expert’s estimate that two-thirds of the Common Core math standards overlapped with the TEKS.

Education Service Center (ESC) Region 6’s Cathy Moak blogged, “I have found that approximately 68 percent of the Common Core standards (CCSS) are correlated with the TEKS.”

“I used a crosswalk document between the CCSS and TEKS. After assuring alignment, I calculated the percent correlated,” she explained her calculations to Breitbart Texas by email.

A crosswalk documents identifies matches between the two sets of standards and will highlight similarities and differences between them.

According to Education Week, there is evidence that education publishers like Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and McGraw Hill are selling Common Core materials in non-adoption states.

Breitbart Texas spoke to representatives from these publishing houses at the 2014 TASA/TASB convention in Dallas. They said they only sold TEKS products in Texas and explained one remedy to the Common Core uproar was to differentiate with TEKS-specified hardback and online edition branding.

Yet, an insider told Breitbart Texas that state law does not prevent teachers from using these Common Core materials. As long as teachers teach the TEKS, they can use whatever instructional materials they choose.

Even in a state that banned Common Core.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.


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