Testimony: High quality math curriculum holds great promise

The following testimony by Policy Advisor Gabe Grantham on high quality math curriculum was given June 27, 2024, to the State Board of Education Instruction Committee on instructional materials submitted for adoption under Instructional Materials Review and Approvals (IMRA) Cycle 2024.

Good morning committee members.

My name is Gabe Grantham, education policy advisor at Texas 2036, and I will be testifying in support of Item 12 and the work that this board is doing to get high quality math curriculum into classrooms. I am passionate about these issues because during my time as a teacher, I had to create my own curriculum from scratch. There was one course that I found out I had to teach just three days before the start of classes. Having a curriculum like the ones before you would have been a game changer for me as a teacher and my students.

In my role at Texas 2036, I work on building and promoting long-term, data-driven strategies to secure Texas’ prosperity and improve student outcomes through our bicentennial and beyond.

Earlier this year, we released a report providing an analysis of math achievement in the state and solutions to increase it. The data speaks for itself:

  • Less than half of Texas students are graduating ready for college level math courses.
  • Only 41% of students are testing on grade level in math on the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness).
  • Only one in 10 parents believe their child is performing below grade level in math.

Rigorous, high-quality curriculum, resources for parents, differentiated supports for students have all emerged as promising solutions to this decline in achievement. Thankfully, this board has already embedded all of these things in your quality rubric for K-12 Mathematics.

To this end, we believe that the OER (Open Education Resources) presented by TEA (Texas Education Agency) and the other HQIM (High-Quality Instructional Materials) material before this body hold great promise in moving the needle of mathematics proficiency in Texas.

Texas math TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) are rated some of the best math standards in the nation — and the rubric and process this board has created will ensure that teachers have access to the tools and resources needed to effectively teach them.

As you go through this process, I do urge you to consider two things:

  1. How can we ensure that the teachers are properly trained and supported to use the materials? The best tool in the world can still not be effective if not used as designed. In-service training in how to use these tools will be vital for success.
  2. How can we ensure that the state can continue to refine the OER and add additional support for teachers and different learners along the way?

In closing, these materials hold so much promise for Texas teachers, students and families. And while Texas may not see the returns on this investment for a few years, it is one of the strongest steps the state has taken to provide rigorous math instruction for all students.

Thank you for your time, and I would be happy to answer any questions.