Texas State Board of Education Must Not Break the Law

Jul 26, 2016 by

State-Board-of-Education1

“Texas State Board of Education Must Not Break the Law”

By Donna Garner

7.26.16

 

 

Cooperative Learning and Collaborative Learning –– Because these two terms are used so often by educators and by the Texas State Board of Education members as they undergo the adoption of new English / Language Arts / Reading TEKS (Texas’ curriculum standards), I feel I need to help the Board and also the public to gain a common understanding of these two terms. 

 

First, let me start with a little background information:

 

BRIEF EXPLANATION ABOUT THE NEW ELAR/TEKS

 

*Excerpts taken from my Open Letter to the Texas State Board of Education Members and Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath on 6.30.16 — http://www.educationviews.org/open-letter-texas-state-board-education-members-texas-commissioner-education-mike-morath/

 

 

It appears that the Texas State Board of Education may be on the verge of allowing the English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) TEKS Review Committees to overstep their authority and their charge.

 

The ELAR/TEKS Review Committees were tasked with taking the present ELAR/TEKS curriculum standards (adopted by the SBOE in May 2008) and improve them.  Instead the leaders of the Review Committees decided to rewrite not review; and in so doing, their draft document if adopted will throw every ELAR classroom in Texas into the Common Core-compliant philosophy of education.

 

…the most objectionable strand in the Review Committee’s document is that of Collaboration because that will make teachers think they are required to follow a certain methodology (e.g., group-think, constructivism, co-operative learning groups, group projects, etc.).

 

It will not really matter what the wording is in the actual subject content standards in the ELAR/TEKS if there is a separate Collaboration strand because the mandated methodology teachers will have to follow to teach the subject content standards will have to be Collaborative Learning. This is a Common Core-compliant method.

 

The mandating of a certain methodology by the SBOE in the ELAR/TEKS is forbidden by the Texas Education Code (TEC) passed by the Texas State Legislature:

 

Please see the pathway below that will lead a person through the Texas Education Code to the exact text:   http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/?link=ED

 

 

TITLE 2. PUBLIC EDUCATION

SUBTITLE F. CURRICULUM, PROGRAMS, AND SERVICES

CHAPTER 28. COURSES OF STUDY;  ADVANCEMENT

SUBCHAPTER A. ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS;  CURRICULUM

GO TO PAGE 6 AND SCROLL DOWN TO (i) where it states:

 

(i)  The State Board of Education shall adopt rules for the implementation of this subchapter.  Except as provided by Subsection (j), the board may not adopt rules that designate the methodology used by a teacher or the time spent by a teacher or a student on a particular task or subject.

 

 

TO READ THE REST OF MY OPEN LETTER, PLEASE GO TO:  http://www.educationviews.org/open-letter-texas-state-board-education-members-texas-commissioner-education-mike-morath/

 

 

BOTTOM LINE: It actually makes no difference whether SBOE members like or dislike Collaborative Learning. The Texas Education Code forbids the members of the Texas State Board of Education from designating METHODOLOGY to be used by Texas teachers. COLLABORATION is clearly METHODOLOGY.  Therefore, having a Collaboration strand in the ELAR/TEKS is against the law.

 

The SBOE is to adopt TEKS that tell teachers WHAT to teach but must leave the HOW for local teachers to determine.

 

CASE CLOSED!

 

 

DEFINITIONS OF COOPERATIVE LEARNING vs.COLLABORATIVE LEARNING

 

“Collaborative learning is an instructional method in which students team up together on an assignment [e.g., simulations, group projects, case studies, collaborative writing, joint problem solving, study teams, debates, etc.].  In this method, students can produce the individual parts of a larger assignment individually and then “assemble” the final work together, as a team. Whether for a semester-long project with several outcomes or a single question during class, collaborative learning can vary greatly in scope and objectives.” (https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli80085.pdf)

 

 

collaborative learning refers to methodologies and environments in which learners engage in a common task where each individual depends on and is accountable to each other. These include both face-to-face conversations[5] and computer discussions (online forums, chat rooms, etc.).[6] Methods for examining collaborative learning processes include conversation analysis and statistical discourse analysis. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collaborative_learning)

 

“Cooperative learning, sometimes confused with collaborative learning, describes a method where students work together in small groups on a structured activity. Students are individually accountable for their work but also for the work of the group as a whole, and both products are assessed.” (https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli80085.pdf)

 

 

COLLABORATION IS A METHODOLOGY

 

 

This article ( “The Difference in Cooperative Learning & Collaborative Learning” — by Jane Clare – Teachers with Appshttp://www.teacherswithapps.com/the-differences-in-cooperative-learning-collaborative-learning/) uses three nouns in describing collaboration/cooperative learning.  All three of these nouns (approaches, techniques, strategy) mean “methodology.”   

 

Example #1: 

 

Quote from the article:  “…The purpose of both approaches is the same; to provide students opportunities to engage with each other in thoughtful learning.”

 

Dictionary.com definition of “approaches” —  (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/approach?s=t)

 

*the method used or steps taken in setting about a task, problem, etc.

 

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Example #2:

 

Quote from the article:  “The underlying premise of these techniques is that learning is enhanced by peer interaction…”

 

Dictionary.com definition of “techniques” —  (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/technique?s=t ),

 

*the body of specialized procedures and methods used in any specific field, especially in an area of applied science.

 

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Example #3:

 

Quote from the article:  “Cooperative Learning is an instructional strategy…”

 

Dictionary.com definition of “strategy”(http://www.dictionary.com/browse/strategy?s=t)

 

*A plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result. 

 

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Example #4:

Taken from Stanford University article (https://tomprof.stanford.edu/posting/237) — uses the word “epistemology” 

Quote from this article:  “The underlying premise for both collaborative and cooperative learning is founded in constructivist epistemology…”

Dictionary.com definition of “epistemology”(http://www.dictionary.com/browse/epistemology?s=t)

*A branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.

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EXAMPLE #5: 

 

Taken from this Stanford University article (https://tomprof.stanford.edu/posting/237) – uses the word “paradigms”

Quote from the article: “Collaborative learning will be defined by comparing it’s characteristics to those of cooperative learning paradigms. 

Dictionary.com definition of  “paradigms” – (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/paradigm?s=t)

 

*An example serving as a model, pattern.

 

*A framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community.

 

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CHARACTERISTICS OF COLLABORATIVE LEARNING TAKEN FROM THE RESEARCH

 

COLLABORATIVE LEARNING
Responsibility for learning is placed on students.
Teacher becomes the learner; the student becomes the expert.
The group members must arrive at consensus rather than maintaining individual positions. They discuss their ideas with the group, form a consensus, and share the consensus with the entire class.
The group can work either face-to-face or apart from one another by way of computers/techie devices.
Little instruction is given by the teacher.
The group is loosely monitored by the teacher.
The teacher never gives the answer – only  points students to seek other sources.
Students evaluate individual and group performance; they negotiate the assessment of the group with the teacher.
Students are taught to doubt the answers and methods for arriving at answers provided by the present or previous teachers.
The teacher is available for consultation, but the group’s progress is evaluated by the group.
The final product is determined by the students.
The students have almost complete responsibility to deal with the problem posed to them.
The process is very open ended.
The group decides on the roles each will play in the final product.
The final product is not presented for teachers’ comments. 
The group itself decides on participation, performance, and conflict resolution.
The collaboration method takes the qualitative approach (subjective, uses “soft data”) rather than the quantitative approach (objective, uses “hard data”). 

 

 

ACTION STEP:

 

At least 5 of the 15 SBOE members understand that the TEC forbids the adoption of methodology. The 5 simply cannot outvote the other 10.  It is absolutely essential that those 10 SBOE members hear from the public, and it is also important to reassure the 5 that they are supported by the public.

 

The first reading of the ELAR/TEKS will be at the Sept. 12 – 16, 2016.   

 

To express your concerns about the Collaboration strand which is against the TEC law, please go to this link:

 

http://tea.texas.gov/About_TEA/Leadership/State_Board_of_Education/Board_Members/SBOE_Members/

 

 

 

OTHER RESOURCES

http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/coopcollab/index_sub1.html

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http://cei.ust.hk/files/public/ccl_related_stories.pdf

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https://tomprof.stanford.edu/posting/237

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http://home.capecod.net/~tpanitz/tedsarticles/coopdefinition.htm

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http://www.cdtl.nus.edu.sg/Handbook/Learn/coop.htm

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1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    zarec

    Thank God youre no longer in the classroom teaching our children.

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