What your child learns in school this year could be different as the Houston Independent School District settles on reading and math programs.
The Houston Teachers Association, an educators’ advocacy group, said teachers didn’t get a say in their teaching material.
It’s a change compared to years past.
Michelle Williams, an HISD teacher and member of the Houston Teacher Association, said back then, teachers had more of a say in curriculum selection.
“It was a really democratic process. Everyone had a voice in it,” Williams said.
Williams added teachers would vote on the curriculum they liked, the school would then send their preferred curriculum to the district, and the district would make the final decision. This year is different, as HISD leaders selected curriculums from the state’s approved list.
“One side of the district is different than the other, and trying to have the same curriculum for all of them is difficult,” Williams said.
She feels that when teachers were involved in the selection process, it brought more targeted learning materials for each school.
With such a wide range of students across HISD, she feels they were better suited to know what curriculum would work best with their students. She feels the curriculums selected for the upcoming school year won’t serve students in the best way.
“One math for elementary, one math that’s Carnegie for secondary math, and reading for all reading grade levels,” Williams said.
For the 2023-2024 school year, all HISD elementary schools will use Eureka math, all high schools will use Carnegie math, and all schools will use Amplify for reading.
Some teachers in classes, like electives, can choose curriculums from one of the five state-approved curriculum vendors, giving them a wider choice.
Williams said teachers not given a choice have voiced concerns that the books that will be read by the students in the reading curriculum aren’t diverse enough.
“They don’t like the genre of texts because it’s not culturally responsive to the needs and does not engage our diverse population,” Williams said.
There were no major gripes about elementary math from the association. Still, some worry that high school math won’t improve student outcomes, which is a significant reason for the TEA takeover.
Williams told reporters that teachers had voiced concerns to the previous administration about their dislike for the teaching method in the Carnegie curriculum.
“They said it was over the children’s heads. We know our students at HISD are not on grade level, and there seems to be this push for tier-one material, which means it’s on grade level. But if a student is not on grade level, how do you teach something that is up here to kids that are down here?” Williams said.
Williams encourages parents if they know their child struggles with a subject, to contact the teacher to ensure they get the support and aid they need.
HISD has yet to make itself available to talk to reporters about the beginning of the school year.