Curriculum Standards in the Lone Star State

“All states and schools will have challenging and clear standards of achievement and
accountability for all children, and effective strategies for reaching those standards” — U.S.
Dept. of Education

What does that look like for students in Texas, one of the few states to push back against the
Common Core?

Common Core Versus State-based Curriculum Standards

The Common Core Standards initiative is an educational initiative that details what K-12 students throughout the United States should know in English language arts and mathematics at the conclusion of each grade. As of 2010, 42 states and the District of Columbia adopted the Common Core Standards Initiative. Texas is one of 8 states which did not initially adopt those Common Core standards and, in fact, it is one of only a few states in which it is technically illegal to teach Common Core within the state. Texas officials have long been of the opinion that the state-based curriculum, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), are superior to Common Core standards.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)

The current standards in Texas, which outline what students are to learn in each course or grade, are called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). These standards are adopted by the State Board of Education, after extensive input from educators and other stakeholders. TEKS begins with prekindergarten guidelines and continues throughout high school. Examples of TEKS across grade levels can be found here.

These agreed-upon standards provide a timeline for instruction throughout the year and progress is measured through testing each spring, using the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). The STAAR test is designed to evaluate student mastery of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills learning standards. For younger students, these tests evaluate students in the areas of reading, math, and writing. Beginning in fifth grade, students are also tested in science and social studies, as well.

Standardized Testing: An Accurate Measure of Success?

Ask any educator and they can provide you with a list of reasons why standardized testing is not the most effective measurement of assessing student knowledge. Having a standardized evaluation method across the state has merit, but it is not without concerns including the effect of test-taking anxiety on student performance, the challenges faced by low-income students who are often less prepared than their more privileged peers, the fact that current STAAR tests are written in language above the grade level in which they are taken, and that failure on a single STAAR test can keep students from graduating, among others.

While TEKS is a comprehensive standard for students in Texas, some argue that students who are not exposed to Common Core curriculum may be at a disadvantage when it comes to taking nationally applied tests, such as the SAT and ACT, which are currently being brought into alignment with the Common Core. Whether or not students from Texas will be affected by lack of exposure to Common Core curriculum may take years to prove or disprove, however; Texas legislators are steadfast in their commitment to and support of TEKS and that the rigor and thorough scope of STAAR testing will leave students in Texas well-prepared for nationally-normed college entrance exams.

Contact Planting Seeds Tutoring Today

At Planting Seeds Tutoring, an Austin, South, and Central Texas-based tutoring company, we are committed to ensuring that every student we work with has access to the most comprehensive tools and strategies to ensure that they are well-positioned to be successful in the classroom, during STAAR testing, and during the ACT and SAT tests. To learn more about the full range of services we offer, visit our blog, visit our website and follow us on Facebook. You can also contact Planting Seeds Tutoring with your questions at (972) 342-6496, or via email at