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CSCOPE: IRVING ISD & STAAR/EOC’S — WHAT IF WE LOST MEASURING STICK?

Mar 12, 2013 by

donna_garnerby Donna Garner –

3.11.13

Irving ISD paid $265,000 (per year) for CSCOPE.  Did it raise their students’ STAAR/EOC’s?  According to this article, “And for all those efforts, Irving’s students fell far behind the state average last year on STAAR, the state’s new standardized test that CSCOPE was supposed to prepare them for.”

Some Texas legislators are trying to do away with the STAAR/End-of-Course tests at each grade level (Grades 3 – 11).  These tests serve as a measuring stick, a yardstick, a ruler.  If we lose the “measuring stick,” how would parents and the public ever prove whether regular public schools, charter schools, CSCOPE, Turkish Gulen Harmony Charter Schools, dual-credit courses, Texas Virtual Academy, online learning, Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate programs, Web 2.0 Tools, and Safari Montage are actually pulling up our children or dumbing them down?

School board elections are coming up on May 11, 2013, in many towns and cities throughout Texas.  In Irving ISD, these elections will evidently settle whether or not CSCOPE will be removed from the District.

My hope is that numerous schools will take the money they have wasted on CSCOPE and use it to purchase the new English / Language Arts / Reading textbooks that are totally aligned with the new curriculum standards adopted in May 2008.  These textbooks contain the systematic teaching of phonemic awareness/decoding skills (phonics), grammar, usage, spelling, composition – all of the back-to-the-basics skills that must be learned by students to help them to be successful in the rest of their school subjects, on the STAAR/End-of-Course tests, and in life.

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/irving/headlines/20130310-third-party-curriculum-could-soon-be-gone-from-irving-school-district.ece?action=reregister

CSCOPE MAY SOON BE GONE FROM IRVING ISD

By AVI SELK

Staff Writer

aselk@dallasnews.com

Published: 10 March 2013 11:07 PM

Excerpts from this article:

After May’s election reshuffles its school board, Irving ISD may become one of the few to sign off…

Irving ISD administrators say the package — which costs roughly $260,000 a year — saves administrators time, keeps students on track with state benchmarks and helps teachers plan their school year.

But echoing complaints across the state, a minority of trustees complain the program bogs teachers down in paperwork, fails to prepare students for state tests and turns classroom planning over to a secretive third party.

Norma Gonzales, who is running unopposed for an open seat on the board, says she wants to phase out the program when she takes her seat. By then, CSCOPE’s detractors on the board should have a majority to do exactly that.

…But CSCOPE also comes with prewritten unit exams, which Irving makes its teachers use. And the software can spit out dozens of handouts per unit, which district officials insist are optional despite claims to the contrary.

‘So rigid’

Dani Van Wig, a regional manager for United Educators Association, said the union has heard stories from about half of Irving’s campuses where principals forced teachers to replace their entire lesson structure with CSCOPE material.

“It’s so rigid it doesn’t allow for a teachable moment,” she said.

Trustee Steven Jones said at least 40 teachers in the district have made similar complaints to him.

And for all those efforts, Irving’s students fell far behind the state average last year on STAAR, the state’s new standardized test that CSCOPE was supposed to prepare them for…

“A lot of the complaints we heard about had to do with the assessments.”

…The teacher, who asked for anonymity to protect his job, said educators were promised CSCOPE would prepare students for STAAR.

“It simply didn’t happen,” he said.

Instead, the teacher said, he wasted hours photocopying CSCOPE handouts no better than the material in the textbook — some of it worse. He said if his principal walked by the classroom and saw him using the book, or deviating at all from CSCOPE material, he would be “redirected” back to the new program.

…Trustees’ complaints about CSCOPE go beyond classroom flexibility. Jones said the program had Marxist origins and appeared designed to “do an end run” around the Texas Board of Education and adopt federal curriculum the state has rejected.

At board meetings, he and trustees Larry Stipes and Gail Conder Wells have claimed that CSCOPE lessons indoctrinate students into Islam and socialism. A state Senate hearing in January heard similar complaints from other districts.

“Nobody knows what’s in CSCOPE,” Jones said. “It’s very secretive.”

In an effort to settle the matter, the district is preparing a teacher survey on CSCOPE. But even that has turned political, with Jones, Stipes and Wells complaining staff won’t include their questions…

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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