ERC Collaborates with Teachers Across Texas to Improve Curricular Standards


Written by: Ashley Green (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: April 12, 2016

English Language Arts and Reading teachers across Texas were able to provide feedback for the latest revision to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the state’s curricular standards, thanks to a partnership between the Texas Council for Teachers of English Language Arts (TCTELA) and the College of Education and Human Development’s Education Research Center (ERC) at Texas A&M University.

The State Board of Education adopted the TEKS in 1998 as a framework for Texas schools and has periodically made revisions to the standards since.  The TEKS identify what students should know and be able to do at each grade level and in every subject area.  Texas currently measures how well students are progressing with its statewide assessment, the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). 

Under the ERC partnership, researchers collected survey data regarding teachers’ experiences and pedagogical practices pertaining to the current English Language Arts and Reading TEKS, as well as teachers’ suggestions and expectations for the revisions and rollout of the amended standards.  The survey was developed by ERC researchers in partnership with TCTELA leaders to capture the educators’ beliefs and practices and provide the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) with practitioner insight for the standards revisions.

The survey was sent to teachers across all education regions in Texas, to teachers of all grade levels and to teachers with varying amounts of experience in the classroom.  A total of 1,128 respondents agreed to complete the survey. 

“We had a very diverse sample, which is exactly what you want.  The results were really representative of our target population,” explained Nancy Weber, research associate at the ERC.  “Just like the title says, we were able to give all these teachers a voice in the process and TCTELA is their megaphone.”

The main section of the survey focused on the purpose of TEKS use, the frequency of TEKS use and the use of TEKS from surrounding grade levels. 

“What we were finding was that they most often used the TEKS to actually guide their planning.  They looked at the TEKS and then made their instructional or pedagogical decisions,” said Weber.  “I can say, that based on our findings, they are definitely using the TEKS in all parts of their planning and delivery.”

The findings also show there are no significant differences between educators’ purpose or frequency of TEKS use based on experience, but early childhood and elementary teachers explicitly use the TEKS more than middle and high school teachers.

The ERC’s final report was sent to TCTELA and the organization is using the feedback in meetings with the State Board of Education and Texas Education Agency to help shape the next round of revisions.

“I think it’s important to give teachers the opportunity to have a voice – not just on their team, their campus or their district,” said Weber.  “When the state is looking at the standards that they are going to set forth for our students, the educators are the ones who are delivering that and who are assessing, so I think it is pretty vital that they are part of the process.”

Researchers from the ERC will present their findings from the survey at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting in April 2016 in Washington, D.C.