Breaking Down the TEKS

What are the TEKS?

The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) are the standards set by the Texas Education Agency to inform the public of the information which Texas students need to know by the end of high school to be college ready.

The standards progress from pre-kindergarten all the way through high school. The TEKS determine what skills a student must know and therefore, what a teacher must teach.

Tutors must also have the skill of breaking down the TEKS into their lesson plans. So, how do they go about this tedious task? Let’s find out!


Who, What, When, Where, Why?

The 5Ws (Who, What, When, Where, and Why) are a popular method of teaching students the most important elements to story creation. We’ll use it here to also describe the essentials of understanding and breaking down the TEKS!


It’s important to know who the TEKS applies to. The TEKS is a document intended for educators to dissect and is not the student’s responsibility to interpret. Therefore, we must keep in mind that the TEKS is a complex document and can seem daunting after the initial read-through. Rest assured, it can be understood and correctly broken down by anyone!


The TEKS is broken down by grade (specifically for elementary, middle, and high school) and it builds upon the previous year’s model. Therefore, it is important to have an accurate understanding of assessing where your student is at prior to jumping into the current grade level. For example, 2nd grade students should have a working knowledge of Kinder-1st grade standards, but there may be points which the student had difficulty understanding or forgot due to learning loss. 

This is where conceptual understanding of a topic is helpful, and where great educators shine. Teachers are expected to bring a student’s understanding of the subject to current grade level, so they are often dipping into previous years’ standards. Having a holistic approach to teaching a subject is helpful, so be sure that you have adequate understanding before diving in. But what topics, you ask?


The order in which you teach a student according to the TEKS largely depends on your student’s academic calendar year. Check the school’s website for information about calendar year information for the different subjects. Syllabuses (for upper middle and high school students) can be accessed for specific subjects. 


Find the TEKS separated by subject matter and grade on the Texas Education Agency’s website >>here<<.


The TEKS are taught because…well…they are the Texas requirements! Different states have different standards (common core, anyone?) and Texas is unique in it’s own standards. Other schooling options (like homeschool curriculums, or private schools) do not necessarily follow the TEKS. Other curriculums present their own pros and cons and must be carefully considered when chosen above the Texas-mandated standards.


So, how do educators break down the TEKS? In particular, how can tutors and parents break them down outside the classroom?

  1. Familiarize yourself with the grade-specific TEKS by reading through the subject.
  2.  Compare each element to the previous years’ to identify the similarities and progressions.
  3. Rewrite the skill into a graphic organizer, making special note of any verbs mentioned within the TEKS (like describe, spell, identify, etc) as the student will need to be able to synthesize and independently perform that skill on assessments (like tests throughout the school year).
  4. Create a lesson plan following the 5e’s (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate), or your own personal preference. Ask one of our highly qualified tutors for more information regarding the 5e’s! Remember: you know your student best. Include the kiddo’s interests within the lesson plan. Ask yourself: is this actually interesting, too complex, too wordy, or too brief? Be sure to research how to lesson plan effectively. 
  5. Last but not least, see how you can include multiple real-world examples and project-based learning methods, AND multiple TEKS into one! Woohoo, multitasking! Applying the knowledge a student learns becomes easier to recall and conceptualize once the student can associate that skill with their own life!

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