Spring 2015 Testing Date Changing for STAAR Grades 5 and 8 Mathematics

Dear Friends,

Below is a new release by the TEA Spring 2015 testing date changing for STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics.

TEA News Releases Dec. 9, 2014
Spring 2015 testing date changing for
STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics

AUSTIN – Commissioner of Education Michael Williams has notified Texas school districts and charters that the spring testing date for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) grades 5 and 8 mathematics will be shifted for the 2014–2015 school year.

The spring testing date for STAAR grades 5 and 8 mathematics will shift from March 30, 2015, to April 20, 2015.

Superintendents, math educators and members of the State Board of Education had asked the Commissioner to consider a potential shift in the testing date due to the ongoing transition to revised statewide curriculum standards in mathematics. The revised math curriculum standards were adopted by the State Board in April 2012 and are being implemented in classrooms this school year.

“Teachers across our state continue the transition to the more rigorous math standards that are now in place,” said Commissioner Williams. “After visiting with superintendents, teachers, parent representatives and district testing coordinators, it is apparent that shifting the math testing date provides a bit more time to better prepare our students in grades 5 and 8.”

Earlier this year, Commissioner Williams announced that the Student Success Initiative (SSI) requirement that students in grades 5 and 8 must pass the STAAR mathematics assessment in order to move on to the next grade level is suspended for this school year. Suspension of the 5th and 8th grade mathematics requirement applies only for the 2014–2015 school year. The STAAR mathematics assessments in grades 5 and 8 will only be administered one time this school year.

State law requiring students in grades 5 and 8 to pass the STAAR reading exam in order to proceed to the next grade level is still in effect.
Commissioner Williams had also received requests to consider shifting the test dates for STAAR grades 5 and 8 science and grade 8 social studies. These test dates will remain unchanged for the 2014–2015 school year.
However, the Texas Education Agency will post a draft testing calendar for the 2015–2016 school year that reflects a proposed change to the testing dates for STAAR grades 5 and 8 science and grade 8 social studies from late April to mid-May beginning in 2016. The draft testing calendar will be posted later in December for public comment.
To learn more about STAAR mathematics, please visit the Texas Education Agency’s STAAR Mathematics Resources webpage at:
http://tea.texas.gov/student.assessment/staar/math/.

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller
SBOE District 12

Public Testimony at SBOE Meeting: Factual Errors in Social Studies Textbooks

November 19, 2014

Dear Friends,

During the public testimony on November 18th “factual errors” in 6th grade social studies textbooks were brought to our attention by retired Lt. Colonel Roy White, Chairman of the Truth in Texas Textbooks (TTT), and the TTT Coalition volunteers.   Colonel White and these volunteers have expended thousands of hours on conference calls, reading training newsletters, going through “mock reviews” and finally conducting the actual reviews on the textbooks. The goal is to have as many social studies textbook reviews posted in one place that will give parents, teachers and Board of Education members a single source to find these reviews to insure the publishers are held accountable for producing factual and honest social studies textbooks.  This will be an ongoing process handled by volunteers.

Following their testimony I continued the dialogue with the board members and encouraged the corrections.   I am sharing with you how important the process is in reviewing our textbooks. We merely want to have the most factual and intelligently honest textbooks possible for our children.

Below is the letter written by the publisher National Geographic Learning, Cengage Learning, Marcie Goodale, regarding the “factual errors.”

Dear Chairwoman Cargill:

Thank you very much for the opportunity to address comments made during the November 18th State Board of Education meeting regarding Proclamation 2015 instructional resources, specifically regarding Cengage Learning’s World Cultures and Geography for grade 6.

Two comments were made yesterday regarding “factual errors” in Cengage Learning’s World Cultures and Geography textbook for 6th grade which we would like to address.  One had to do with the text’s description of the United States as a democracy.  The second was a suggestion that Jesus be identified as Jesus Christ in a Christian context.

In response to the first comment, on page 65 there is a sentence that reads, “The United States was the first modern country to establish a representative democracy.”  The Truth in Textbooks group said that the United States is a “constitutional republic.”   We had suggested the following edit: “The United States was the first modern country to establish a federal republic. The government is often referred to as a representative democracy.”  In response to yesterday’s comment, we will delete the second sentence and use the term “constitutional” instead of federal.

In response to the second comment, on page R52 in the World Religions Handbook, the first sentence under “Historical Origins” reads: “Christianity is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, also called Jesus Christ by Christians.”  This is nearly verbatim to the language requested by the speaker in the meeting today.  In addition on page 60 in the text, Jesus is referred to as Jesus Christ in the description of Christianity.

A second area of concern was the question of Common Core State Standards and the role of these standards within this sixth grade social studies program.  Cengage Learning wishes to reassure the State Board of Education and the TEA that nowhere within World Cultures and Geography is instruction regarding Common Core State Standards mentioned, encouraged, or promoted.   World Cultures and Geography for Texas focuses solely on the TEKS and ELPS to which the program aligns 100%.  The program is infused with TEKS projects and TEKS assessment.

We appreciate the opportunity to address a third area of concern and that is the link to external websites from myNGconnect.com for Texas, the program’s instructional portal.  Cengage Learning commits to removing any links to external websites, such as National Geographic, no later than Thursday, November 20.   National Geographic Learning is wholly owned by Cengage Learning; while there are resources within World Cultures and Geography from National Geographic, the instruction and pedagogy has been developed independently of the National Geographic Society.  In no way does National Geographic Learning | Cengage Learning influence the content selected for the National Geographic website.  All web links to National Geographic will be permanently discontinued.

It is our sincere intent to participate in Proclamation 2015 to be part of the education of grade 6 students in Texas. We believe our curriculum conforms to the high standards of the Texas State Board of Education and the citizens of the state of Texas.

We respectfully present this information for your consideration, and appreciate the opportunity.

Marcie Goodale

Publisher, Social Studies

Hector Morales

Sales Manager – Southwest

National Geographic Learning

Cengage Learning

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

www.tincymiller.com

gtince@aol.com