The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills are the state standards for Texas public schools.
The foundation TEKS are those in English language arts and reading, mathematics, science, social studies (including economics), Spanish language arts and English as a second language. The enrichment TEKS are those in languages other than English, fine arts, health, physical education, technology applications, career and technology education, religious literacy and personal financial literacy.
The TEKS for grades K-8 math and one or more courses offered for high school graduation must include personal financial literacy instruction. The health curriculum must emphasize both physical health and mental health. Implementation resources for both the foundation and enrichment TEKS can be accessed at http://tea.texas.gov/Academics/Curriculum_Standards.
State law requires that at least 50% of a PE course (on a weekly basis) comprise actual student physical activity at a moderate or vigorous level, while meeting the needs of students of all ability levels, including students with a mental disability. Districts must establish goals that include class-size ratios small enough to ensure student safety.
State law/rules require all students enrolled in full-day pre-K, kindergarten or grades 1-5 in an elementary school setting to participate in moderate or vigorous physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes daily or 135 minutes weekly in a TEKS-based PE class or structured activity, including recess. Students must participate in moderate or vigorous activity at least 30 minutes per day for at least four semesters during grades 6-8 (exemptions are allowed for students who participate in an extracurricular activity that includes vigorous exercise). Districts with block scheduling are permitted to require moderate or vigorous physical activity for at least 225 minutes during a two-week period. Districts and open-enrollment charters are required to conduct annual physical assessments for students in grade 3 or higher who are enrolled in a PE course.
State Board of Education rules clarify that students must complete only one fine arts course during the entirety of grades 6-8.
State law allows school districts to use a flexible year program to provide up to 4,200 fewer minutes of instruction than required by law to all students other than at-risk students, so that additional instruction can be provided to students who did not or are not likely to perform successfully on the state assessment or who otherwise would not be promoted to the next grade level. State law also allows school districts to provide an optional flexible school day program for students who have dropped out of school, are at risk of dropping out, or, as a result of attendance requirements, will be denied credit for one or more classes.
School districts must ensure sufficient time is provided for teachers to teach and students to learn the essential knowledge and skills for that subject or grade level when adopting a recommended or designated scope and sequence for a subject in the required curriculum.
If a teacher determines that the students need more or less time in specific areas to demonstrate proficiency in the TEKS, then the school district may not penalize a teacher who does not follow the recommended or designated scope or sequence for a subject. A district may take appropriate action with regard to a teacher for conduct based upon documented evidence of a deficiency in classroom instruction that has been observed or if based upon third-party information that has been substantiated and documented.
Recently passed legislation aimed at prohibiting the instruction of critical race theory places some restrictions on teachers of any course or subject beginning Dec. 2, 2021. Most notably, a teacher cannot be compelled to discuss a widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs, but if a teacher chooses to, the teacher must explore the topic objectively and in a manner free from political bias. In addition, districts, charter schools and teachers are prohibited from requiring or awarding credit (including extra credit) for students’ political activism, lobbying, other efforts to persuade government by direct communication, or participation in any program involving social or public policy advocacy.
Teachers and other school employees also are prohibited from requiring or making a part of a course inculcation in any of the following concepts: one race/sex is inherently superior; an individual is inherently racist or sexist either consciously or unconsciously by virtue of the person’s race or sex; an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the person’s race; an individual’s moral character, standing, or worth is necessarily determined by the person’s race or sex; an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility, blame, or guilt for actions committed by other members of the same race or sex; meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created to oppress another race; the advent of slavery in what is now U.S. territory constitutes the true founding of the U.S.; slavery or racism are anything other than deviations from the authentic principles of the U.S.
The new law also provides that a district or charter school may not have any rule or student code of conduct that would result in the punishment of a student for discussing or have a chilling effect on student discussion of the concepts described above.
TEA's website has more information about the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.