DALLAS, Texas — On September 17, the State Board of Education (SBOE) voted 12-3 to pass an amendment that is a major step in shoring up Texas sovereignty over the Social Studies standards. Public schools will have to teach the state education standards, the Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS) for Social Studies when administering high school Advanced Placement (AP) courses and also, a similar program, the International Baccalaureate (IB). This will go into effect for school year 2015-16.
Currently, SBOE rules allow high school students to earn credit toward towards college for successful completion of AP and IB end-of-courseexams. However, the “content requirements” of these Social Studies courses fall under the state’s “other” standards category and are dictated by the College Board, which owns AP and IB. These courses are not required but are popular optional high school courses offered to accelerated academic learners and high achievers.
The changes made to the amendment apply to the Social Studies TEKS (19TAC, Chapter 113, Subchapter D). They will “explicitly require that students who seek to satisfy specific social studies graduation requirements through completion of AP and IB social studies courses demonstrate proficiency in all of the TEKS for the corresponding TEKS-based courses.”
Monica Martinez, Texas Education Agency (TEA) Associate Commissioner for Standards & Programs, spoke during the SBOE meeting. She raised the issue of potential confusion regarding AP and IB. She commented that when teaching these classes they may reference the TEKS but theoretically a teacher could teach AP and not the state Social Studies standards because the jurisdiction over their content standards are with the College Board.
This new amendment, authored by board member Marty Rowley, clears this up. Board Vice Chair Thomas Ratliff pointed out the impact it will have on AP and IB, saying “an amendment is more than statement but a rule.”
Even as the Board took a major step forward, board member, Pat Hardy, stated for the record that in the Dallas area Lewisville ISD, she hadn’t found one school that “doesn’t start with the TEKS in teaching AP.” She added that that teacher groups are of the understanding that they are to overlay the AP framework over the TEKS.
AP has been at the center of a nationwide controversy because the College Board, who owns the program, has redesigned their Advanced Placement US History (APUSH) framework with a decidedly progressive interpretation of American history.
The SBOE adopted the TEKS for Social Studies and Economics on September 1, 1998. They added more rules in Chapter 113, Subchapter D, effective September 1, 2001, and further revisions to the Social Studies and Economics TEKS August 23, 2010. The current contract signed with the College Board for IB and AP was also signed in 1998.
Board member Geraldine Miller raised a critical question just before the amendment vote. She posited, “I don’t see how the new AP framework can be aligned to the TEKS. One has a philosophical bias versus our well-balanced standards. That bothers me. Can we really get this resolved?”
That concern is a major one in the ongoing AP battle moves to September 19 when the SBOE’s focus becomes the contested AP US History (APUSH). The board’s September meetings continue through Friday, September 19, when they will vote on a proposed resolution from Board member Ken Mercer. That resolution asks the College Board to rewrite APUSH in “a transparent manner to accurately reflect U. S. history without a political bias and to respect the sovereignty of Texas over its education curriculum.”
Top educators and educational experts have appealed to the SBOE to pass this resolution as the “nation’s last best chance” to stop the College Board from further nationalizing education through the AP program, Breitbart Texas reported.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.