Common Core Math in Texas: Texas Math Scores Drop Worst in U.S., says Expert

Jan 12, 2017 by


By Carole Hornsby Haynes   Part 5 of the Series: “The results in Grade 8 are virtually catastrophic.”

January 11, 2016                         Texas Insider


​During the 2012 Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) math curriculum standards review, Dr. James Milgram, a member of Common Core’s Validation Committee and the only content expert in mathematics for the standards, reviewed both the first and second Texas drafts.  He publicly declared that the second draft showed every indication of being among the best, if not the best, state math standards in the country.


However, the final draft was dramatically altered in the final version that Milgram received from the TEA. A Common Core format had been added and pure math content reduced.


Now Texas students are paying a heavy price.


The TEA boasted that fourth and eighth grade students taking the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) — the “Nation’s Report Card” — in mathematics scored higher than the national average.  Technically yes, but…


For the first time since the NAEP was administered in the early 1990s, national math scores of

fourth and eighth graders have dropped. The scores of the high-school seniors show a “statistically significant” decline in math performance as well. This is especially significant because most of the students administered the biennial assessments live in states that have implemented the Common Core math.


In Texas fourth grade math scores rose from 27th in 2013 to 11th in 2015 nationally.  That was achieved because the national score fell, thereby increasing the spread. Texas eighth graders also scored above the national average yet Texas scores have declined sharply from 2011 to 2015.


In an email interview Dr. Milgram explained, “What you need to note is the STEEPNESS of the slope as we get from 2011 to 2015.  This gives a pretty accurate picture of how fast the state’s students are falling apart.  And, in fact, this is one of the steepest of all slopes for all the states in eighth grade math. In fourth grade the results are essentially flat, but the results in grade 8 in mathematics are virtually catastrophic.”


In reviewing the NAEP line graph, we see the fourth grade score continuing to rise while the national score is falling.  Milgram noted that, “In particular, in grade 4 there was virtually nothing happening, but in that grade the NAEP is not at all challenging, since it is not at all unusual for states to do very little in K-4, but the material in the higher grades often becomes more challenging.”


Milgram’s concern about the poor quality of Texas math standards is evidenced by the eighth grade line graph. “Overall, in fact, this TX graph shows a much faster collapse than is the case with the ordinary Common Core states in eighth grade.  So the conclusion is that the lousy TX standards are even worse than the Common Core standards by eighth grade.”


Milgram added that once the “process words” are stripped from these standards there is virually nothing left, and the “process words have virtually no effect on the NAEP type math problems, which actually require knowledge and some experience to resolve.”


During the November 16, 2016 SBOE testimony, Dr. Milgram, Niki Hayes, and Randy Houchins all provided extensive examples showing how the problem can be addressed temporarily until the next Math TEKS review in 2020.  The Common Core Process Standards can be stripped out, leaving the pure math content which, according to Milgram, will still need to be strengthened.


Milgram offered his services as well as those of other experts to strengthen the content once the processes are removed.  Hayes said that “teachers will rise to the challenge of adding solid material that is needed if it is not covered in the stripped-down TEKS content standards.”


The SBOE has fiddled for months, in spite of an uproar from the public.  Students are losing and Texas is losing.


The SBOE meets again in January, 2017.  It’s time for Chairwoman Donna Bahorich to take a leadership role to allow Milgram, Hayes, and Houchins to prepare a draft that strips out the illegal process standards with that document being presented in the April meeting for a final vote to move forward.


With a voice vote in January, we will see who really cares about Texas students.  To repeat my last post on this issue, let’s see who just wants to protect self-egos and pander to special interest groups (including elementary teacher associations, teacher training programs with vested interests in promoting reform methods, and textbook publishers with bloated and costly materials that focus on activities/methods).


By state law, the SBOE and TEA have the responsibility to provide strong academic standards for Texas schools.  So far, they have given us a highly inferior product — an embarrassing sham for math. As our elected representatives and state employees who have failed to do their job, perhaps some need to be replaced.


What you can do:


  • Call or write your Texas State Legislators: Tell them to hold the TEA and its employees accountable for their actions in adding Common Core to our standards. Texas House    Texas Senate


Follow Carole Haynes at    twitter



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1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    How did Texas get this garbage?
    I though they smartly REJECTED Common Core.
    These poor kids… the entire Common Core curriculum is nothing more than Obama’s racist, ant-Christian, Islam loving, anti American agenda with the result to have kids DUMB and emotional amoebas. Need I mention the depraved immorality promoted?
    Your sexual identity is a “life long discovery”? Anything associated with Common Core should be used as bonfire material. Do be OFFENDED. I really don’t care.

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