Sep 16, 2018 by

“Randy Houchins Still Battling Against Children Becoming Math Derelicts”

By Donna Garner


I could hardly hold back the tears when I listened to Randy Houchins’ impassioned testimony before the Texas State Board of Education on 9.14.18 (10:14 minutes — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3MrS6-_rMg). 

This dedicated engineer/dad has been coming before the SBOE since 2014 to share his great concerns about the Math TEKS (Texas’ curriculum standards) which are mandated to be taught in all Texas public schools.

Because these Math TEKS contain Common Core/Type #2 (subjective) process standards, the STAAR/End-of-Course tests built upon them contain the same type of Common Core questions.

Randy has taken every one of the Math STAAR/EOC tests himself since 2014 and has carefully tracked the data, using the TEA’s own raw conversion tables to produce his charts.

Randy started off his comments by commending the five SBOE members who had the courage in April 2017 to vote to redo the Math TEKS. These five people are David Bradley, Ken Mercer, Barbara Cargill, Tom Maynard, and Tincy Miller.

Because the other 10 Board members voted to keep the Math TEKS as they are, the 2017 – 2018 STAAR/EOC results indicate students’ passing rates are not improving even though the questions in Grade 3 were easier.  Houchins said 41% of the questions were based upon process. 

Houchins explained that process questions require students to look at a picture (a representation) or to utilize a method rather than their having to calculate mathematically the correct answer.  As both Mercer and Houchins pointed out, in real life and on the job, it is the CORRECT ANSWER that counts; the wrong answer can end up costing people their lives (e.g., damns breaking, buildings collapsing, opioids being incorrectly administered, etc.).

Houchins quoted Dr. Jim Milgram, a renowned Stanford University mathematician, who said that if a student spends three to four years in the Common Core/Type #2 process standards, the student will probably never recover.

Besides working as an engineer, Houchins takes time to tutor students for free in all levels of math, trying to rescue them from the Common Core/Type #2 process standards by teaching students how to do actual mathematical calculations.   

What makes me cry is thinking about all of the millions of Texas public school children who are becoming “math derelicts” simply because the majority of the SBOE decided to leave the damaging Common Core/Type #2 math standards in place.  

Houchins predicted rightly that the STAAR/EOC math scores are bound to go down in the next several years,  and these students will probably never recover.

It is a terrible thing to have to predict that Kumon, Mathnasium, Sylvan, Elite Academies, etc. will continue to get even richer while parents get even poorer!

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  1. Avatar
    Lynn Davenport

    Randy is a hero. We now know why parents have been ignored by the SBOE. The TEA plans to put all children on 1:1 devices with gamification to replace traditional educators and textbooks. They created Math Innovation Zones and partnered with Reasoning Mind and three other vendors to implement blended learning and computer adaptive assessments. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/black-gold-texas-tea-education-agency-lynn-davenport

  2. Avatar
    Brian DeKoninck

    It is the same with “secretary DeVos”, she claims to be against common core, but will not support initiative to remove it from schools in her home state (my state) of Michigan.

    She is all words and no action. In fact many of her actions are just the opposite, in many cases fully supporting common core teaching… Very disappointing, President Trump please pick someone new for education secretary, regain control of our schools before it is too late…

  3. Avatar
    Ro Harris

    Governor Abbott repeatedly stated that Common Core was not legal in Texas. Does he not know what is going on or does he just think we are too stupid to know what is really happening.

    • Avatar
      Randy Houchins

      Ro Harris, Governor Abbott knows what is going on. So does Dan Patrick. The intentionally did not put any teeth into HB 462 because they knew Texas had been revising their standards to be the same as Common Core for a long time. They are not on our side in education.

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