Tuesday, July 21, 2009

SBOE approves new CTE curriculum standards; cuts textbook costs

AUSTIN - The State Board of Education today gave final approval to new curriculum standards for about 190 Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses.

The standards, called Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), update and streamline CTE courses offered in Texas public schools. In recent years, more than 600 CTE courses were available to be taught in Texas schools.

The updated standards were written by teams of Texas secondary and postsecondary educators, business leaders and community members.

The courses are organized into 16 categories or clusters, which are:
• Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources;
• Architecture and Construction;
• Arts, Audio/Visual Technology, and Communications;
• Business Management and Administration;
• Education and Training;
• Finance;
• Government and Public Administration;
• Health Science;
• Hospitality and Tourism;
• Human Services;
• Information Technology;
• Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security;
• Manufacturing;
• Marketing;
• Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics; and
• Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics.

The board at a later date will determine whether some of the advanced CTE courses can count for a fourth mathematics or science course credit. This will potentially provide more course options to students in the Class of 2011 and subsequent classes who are required to earn four math and science credits as part of their diploma program.

During this meeting, board members also learned that the Texas Legislature appropriated about $82 million less than was requested to purchase new English language arts and reading books. The board requested $547 million in funding for instructional materials that are to be used in classrooms beginning in the fall of 2010 but it received an appropriation of $465 million.

Board members agreed that they would not delay the purchase of instructional materials for any subject or grade level. However, they did agree to about $44 million in cost cutting measures that include basing costs on 2008-2009 enrollment figures and reducing the textbook quota to 103 percent.

The current quota is 105 percent, which means that for every 100 students, the district can order 105 textbooks. This allows a district to have extra materials on hand to replace lost textbooks or to provide materials to newly enrolled students. A 103 percent quota simply means that districts will have a smaller quantity of surplus materials on hand. A district could still order additional instructional materials at a later date if needed.

Board members also asked Texas Education Agency staff to work with publishers to see if there were ways publishers could reduce the bid price of materials. The English language arts and literature books are currently scheduled to cost from $55.56 to $174.14 per book or kit, depending on the subject and grade. Board members asked staff members to calculate new maximum costs per textbook to achieve an additional $38 million in cost reductions to close the budget gap.

As part of its efforts to manage the $19 billion Permanent School Fund, the board voted to hire NEPC, LLC to provide investment counsel services to the fund. The board also voted to rehire The Bank of New York Mellon to provide global custody and security lending services for the PSF.

The board awarded a charter to Koinonia Community Learning Academy of Houston.

The July meeting marked the board’s first meeting headed by new Chair Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas. Lowe was appointed chair of the board by Gov. Rick Perry on July 10.

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