Curriculum Design

The governing body within each state typically mandates curriculum design. With the implementation of the “No Child Left Behind” Act, the job of curriculum design is more important than ever. The Texas Education Agency’s Division of Curriculum is charged with the task of ensuring the “No Child Left Behind” Act is followed. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) set out to design a program that would keep Texas in compliance with the new Act. The curriculum design, which was established, is referred to as Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS.

The system sets out a curriculum design, which includes foundation and enrichment subjects. The foundation courses consist of core subjects, such as english language arts and reading, mathematics, science, along with social studies. Spanish language arts and English as a second language were also adopted into the foundation curriculum design. Languages other than English, fine arts, health, physical education, and technology applications fall under enrichment courses.

The Texas Education Agency went one step further with the curriculum design to include The Career and Technology Application TEKS. This area incorporated specialty courses into the enrichment arena. Subjects, such as agricultural science and technology, business education, home economics education, health science technologies, along with others were included to provide Texas students with additional opportunities for skills based learning.

The No Child Left Behind Act required the state to not only design an appropriate curriculum, but also create a system for testing the knowledge learned on a yearly basis. The Student Assessment Division was created to oversee testing in Texas. Teacher and student performance is now determined by the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills or TAKS test. The TEKS was broken up into two main categories: (1) Elementary and (2) Secondary. Since teachers and students are held accountable by TEKS, it is vital that the educator have a clear understanding of the curriculum design, along with testing requirements.

Students in Texas that were in the eighth grade or lower on January 1, 2001, are now required to pass an eleventh grade exit level TAKS test. This requirement is in addition to the traditional credits needed to graduate high school. The exit level TAKS test includes four core subjects. They include english language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The curriculum design prepares the students for exit examination.

Students are required to take the exit level TAKS test in the spring of their 11th grade school year. If all parts of the examination are passed on the first try, then students will have fulfilled their testing requirements in order to graduate. However, if students do not pass one or more sections of the test, then they will have two more opportunities to retake those sections before graduation. All students must pass this examination before they will be eligible to graduate. This is why it is so important that teachers outline their classroom lesson plans to incorporate the curriculum design that the state mandates.

The exit level english language arts portion of the TAKS test is a reading and writing examination, which focuses on six key areas. A student’s score is based on how well they do on both parts of the exam covering the topics within the curriculum design outlined by the state. The test itself has a combination of multiple choice and short answer questions based on several published reading selections and a visual representation. Students will also be required to write an essay on a specific topic and answer other multiple-choice questions, which focus on revising and editing written passages.

The mathematics, science, and social studies portions of the exit level TAKS examination will consist of multiple choice and open-ended questions, which cover the information mandated by the State of Texas. Teachers should ensure that they are familiar with the TEKS initiative and TAKS testing. In addition, all lesson plans should be structured to incorporate the elements of the curriculum design within the platform. By carefully studying the mandates, teachers will be better equipped to transfer the knowledge to their students.