Tag Archives: Sue Melton-Malone

SBOE asks commissioner for accountability relief during implementation of new math curriculum standards

The State Board of Education (SBOE) is concerned that the implementation of new curriculum standards for mathematics this year may cause unintended headaches for some schools, educators, and students, and several board members are hoping the commissioner of education will offer assistance.

The board revised the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for math in grades 3-8 in 2012, and those new TEKS are being implemented in schools this year. Some SBOE members fear negative consequences for students, teachers, and schools that have not yet had sufficient time for professional development, incorporating new instructional materials aligned with the TEKS, and adjusting to the new standards, which in some cases require skills to be taught at different grade levels than they were under the prior math standards.

Today, 14 members of the board wrote a letter to Commissioner of Education Michael Williams asking him to consider a temporary “hold harmless” provision in state accountability requirements for campuses and school districts during the initial implementation period. They also asked for additional support from the Texas Education Agency through professional development resources. Board members stated in the letter, “We believe our math standards are important and worth supporting without the counterproductive pressure for students and teachers during the transition.”

The SBOE met for several days this week to swear in newly elected members, appoint board members to serve on particular committees, and elect officers. The board re-elected Thomas Ratliff as its vice-chair and tapped Ruben Cortez to serve as board secretary. (The chairman of the board, Barbara Cargill, is selected by the governor and confirmed by the Texas Senate.) Sue Melton-Malone, who is also a former state president of ATPE, was elected by her fellow members to chair the SBOE’s Committee on Instruction, for which she previously served as vice-chair. SBOE member Patricia “Pat” Hardy will continue in her role as chair of the Committee on School Finance and the Permanent School Fund. Board members also elected Marty Rowley to serve as chair of the Committee on School Initiatives, with Martha Dominguez as his vice-chair. ATPE congratulates all the newly elected members and officers.

SBOE and TEA finish up two weeks of marathon meetings

The State Board of Education met from Tuesday, July 15, through Friday, July 18, for its regular July meeting. Here are the highlights:

On Tuesday, the board had a lengthy conversation with a curriculum and standards development specialist. This was the first of several planned interactions intended to help the board do a better job of overseeing the TEKS writing process with the goal of developing more streamlined, teacher-friendly TEKS.

On Wednesday, Commissioner Michael Williams addressed the board. He and the board had a longer than usual discussion primarily due to his recent actions regarding Great Hearts charter school in the Dallas area. During its last meeting the board chose to veto the commissioner’s recommendation to give Great Hearts a new charter to open a school in the Dallas area. Board members based their decision primarily on concerns that were brought to the board about that specific charter operator. In the interim between that meeting and this one, the commissioner chose to use his authority to grant the Great Hearts operating in San Antonio an expansion into the Dallas market. In doing so, the commissioner waived his own rules against granting expansions to a charter operator that had not been operating under a Texas charter for at least four consecutive years and essentially did an end run around the board’s veto.

The board also received a report on the health of the permanent school fund (PSF), which has topped $30 billion, the largest the fund has ever been. The board set the range within which it will pull funds from the PSF over the next biennium. It is the board’s duty to set the rate at which funds are taken from the PSF and sent to the Legislature to be appropriated. A portion of the money taken from the PSF is used to fund the instructional materials allotment and a portion is spent to offset the cost of education generally, decreasing the amount the Legislature has to spend out of general revenue.

On Thursday, the board met as committees. The Committee on Instruction, which is chaired by ATPE Past State President Sue Melton Malone, met an hour earlier than the other committees to host a dyslexia demonstration for the entire board. The Committee on School Initiatives discussed the possibility of the board updating the long-range plan for public education and long range technology plan, neither of which has been updated in more than a decade.

The full board heard public testimony on Friday from members of the public who are concerned about the influence of Common Core on AP History classes. Currently there are no Common Core standards for history.

Watch recorded footage of the board meeting.

This week, July 21–23, the TEA’s charter division has been conducting interviews of charter applicants. Several SBOE members have been present for those interviews.Watch recorded footage of the interviews.

On Friday, TEA will hold a public hearing to take testimony on the new commissioner’s rules regarding charter schools. Senate Bill 2 from last session transferred most of the SBOE’s authority over charter schools to the Commissioner of Education. Watch the hearing live.

SBOE committee discusses curriculum standards

The State Board of Education (SBOE) continues to meet this week in Austin. The SBOE’s Committee on Instruction, which includes ATPE member Martha Dominguez and ATPE past state president Sue Melton-Malone, took up two discussion items including invited testimony Thursday morning. The committee met two hours earlier than usual so that other members of the board could hear and participate in a discussion of the new graduation equivalency program and the process for adoption and revision of the state’s curriculum standards known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

Board members heard from Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff and a representative from testing vendor Pierson Education about the transition from the current GED program to a new fully-computerized battery of high school equivalency tests. The panel asked questions about logistics, access and expense. The committee will continue to discuss this issue in upcoming meetings as they contemplate putting forth a competitive bid to ensure that the state is getting the most bang for its buck on this program.

Next, the committee continued its discussion looking into issues concerning the number of TEKS and the TEKS review process. The board continues to grapple with issues such as how to define “essential” and drawing a line between defining standards, which the SBOE is required to set by statute, and curriculum issues like pacing, which the board is forbidden to address by law.

There is a general consensus that the SBOE, and perhaps moreover TEA, has turned a corner with the mathematics TEKS and is heading in the right direction toward narrowing the scope and deepening the ability to reach mastery of the TEKS. A subgroup of board members, all of whom have extensive experience at the campus or classroom level in public schools, has been tasked with bringing their perspective and the perspective of other educators to this issue. The group includes Patricia “Pat” Hardy, Melton-Malone and Dominguez.

View archived footage of Thursday morning’s meeting of the SBOE Committee on Instruction here.