At the start of the 2014–15 school year, the state's math curriculum received its first major overhaul since 1998, resulting in frustration from many parents and teachers across the state.
Several years ago, the State Board of Education began a review of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills taught in each grade level from kindergarten through eighth grade. The board also gathered input from mathematicians, teachers, parents and business partners across the state before adopting the new math standards in 2012.
The new standards require students to use a problem-solving model that incorporates analyzing information, formulating a plan or strategy and justifying the solution. In Cy-Fair ISD, a four-step model is used in all elementary school grade levels and campuses to provide a consistent framework in which students communicate their understanding of math concepts, said Mary Jadloski, CFISD assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.
"This new curriculum raises the individual ceiling for every student we have, especially the best and the brightest," she said. "We're trying to start the problem- solving earlier to help these kids develop a deeper understanding and be able to do the jobs that will be in existence when these second-graders become adults."
Although administrators said the new curriculum will prepare students for the future, several parents spoke during the October and November CFISD board meetings to express concerns about the changes. Parent Brandy Best said that while she believes teachers want students to succeed with the new curriculum, it is too much and something needs to change.
"The math our third-graders are expected to know now is what used to be fourth-, fifth- and some sixth-grade math a few years ago," she said. "I'm not a parent that is anti-four-step. I believe it's a good process, but it shouldn't be mandatory for every problem."
Similar concerns were heard across the state during the November SBOE meeting in Austin, during which parents and teachers testified for nearly four hours regarding the new changes.
"We have heard that implementation is at different places across the board, and it's our goal that it is successful for all kids," said Lauren Callahan, spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency. "I think the hearing showed there is more work to do to take care of that."
The state did not provide additional funding to school districts to help implement the curriculum changes. However, CFISD hosted three district-wide parent meetings in early November to give parents a better understanding of the new standards.
Additionally, Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced in May that due to the new changes, the state will waive the fifth grade and eighth grade promotion tied to the math STAAR test for the 2014–15 academic year.