Here at LearnBop we’ve been hard at work creating an alignment with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards for mathematics, and we’re excited to announce that the new alignment is now live!
To make it clear what this alignment means and how it was created, we took some time to sit down with Cindy Bryant, our Director of Learning and the leader on the TEKS alignment project, to hear about the process she went through to accomplish LearnBop’s first state-specific standards alignment.
Cindy was the head of MO K-12 Mathematics for six and a half years, served on the NCTM Board of Directors, and won a Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Science & Mathematics. She also has over two and a half decades of experience in the classroom. As we spoke, it was clear that she had brought all of this experience to bear when creating the TEKS alignment.
We started our conversation by asking Cindy how her prior experience informed her process with creating the TEKS alignment.
Q: How did you start the alignment process? What were your first steps?
Cindy: The first thing you want to do with a project like this is talk to the people who created and are implementing the standards that you want to align with. That’s why I started this process by talking to a group of Texas educators, who provided wonderful insight into the TEKS alignment.
What I found was that a small group of math leaders in Texas had already done an unofficial draft alignment between TEKS and the CCSSM, so I began my work on TEKS alignment using that draft as a guide.
Their work gave me a framework to start from. What I found with the TEKS standards, which I also found with the CCSSM, is that some standards have more than one concept or skill related to a particular standard, so I had to break some of the TEKS standards down into a more granular format in terms of separating out concepts to address.
For example, look at this picture of the Statistics and Probability standard for grade 7, which as been broken into 7.SP.A1 and 7.SP.A2:
Q: Can you tell us a little about your past experience working on the creation of state standards and other efforts related to state standards?
Cindy: While head of K-12 Mathematics for Missouri I facilitated both standards reviews and assessment development . Prior to my tenure at the Department, I had served on the original Grade Level Expectations(GLEs) development team. The GLEs, aligned to the Show-Me State Standards (1993), provided an assessment framework that outlined skills and concepts that were considered fair game for the state mathematics assessments.
During my tenure at the Department, I facilitated the revision of the original GLEs to also include Course Level Expectations to identify skills and concepts that would be assessed on the state end of course exams.
A lot of that work was informed by NCTM standards, and of course by the “Show Me” standards themselves, specifically when considering how students learn mathematics and at what grade level certain concepts are appropriate to include.
Q: And how did that work in Missouri inform your work on the TEKS alignment?
My work in Missouri helped me to better understand at what grade level students should learn different concepts, and where things should be at different grade levels as far as different concepts are concerned. When I would look at a given TEK, I could think about our (LearnBop) content; in some cases supervisors hadn’t made recommendations, so I was able to look at the TEK and determine what concepts aligned with it. Having that general background about which concepts and skills should be expected at certain grade levels gave me a starting point for the work with aligning our program to the concepts and skills included in the TEKS.
With both the assessment and curriculum work I did related to student work and expectations, this experience was helpful, because it gave me a prior framework to work from. My past experience helped me to think about how some standards are broad in terms of what the expectations are for students to actually do, and how standards like this might need to be split apart into a more granular form to address them with content that is developed to be aligned to the given standard.
Being able to take a standard and align it with actual math problems can be challenging , and I definitely drew on my background with this kind of thing when working on the TEKS alignment.
Q: Can you say more about the framework you used to align LearnBop with TEKS?
I had to look really closely at the TEKS standards and search for existing standards in LearnBop that aligned best. There were also a handful of cases where standards had been suggested in the alignment document that I didn’t agree with, so I worked very hard to make sure that what was in the TEKS standards aligned with the standards associated with it in LearnBop.
In cases, we had already developed content to address the TEKS standard in question, so the alignment work primarily had to do with identifying those existing concepts and problems and matching them up with the appropriate TEKS.
In some cases I had to go to the granular level of looking at the problems themselves in order to make a final determination about alignment. This was an extremely time-consuming process, but well worth the effort.