CSCOPE Texas Public Hearings
To: Texas State Board of Education
From: Donna Garner
I have submitted these articles as written testimony for the public hearing on CSCOPE, Texas State Board of Education, Nov. 15, 2012. Some of these articles I have written myself; but most of them come from e-mails sent to me from concerned teachers, parents, and the public. When requested to do so, I have removed identifiers to make sure that no retribution is given to these individuals.
All of these articles indicate the legitimate and strong frustrations that people feel with CSCOPE. Texas taxpayers’ dollars pay for CSCOPE, and it is purportedly being used in at least 80% of Texas public school districts. Yet CSCOPE has never come before the SBOE for a public hearing, and CSCOPE’s strongly worded copyright laws have mistakenly been used to create a secretive atmosphere surrounding this curriculum management system that includes curriculum, assessments, teacher-required training, etc. In many schools, CSCOPE is the only curriculum being used. Public transparency is missing from CSCOPE, and this is very alarming for Texas citizens and/or parents.
“CSCOPE: Texas Teachers Given Gag Order”
Written by concerned Texas educators
[The November newsletter from Texas Eagle Forum will carry an article on CSCOPE also.]
Many Texas public school superintendents have thrown aside textbooks and have bought, at great expense to the local taxpayers, an unproven digitized curriculum called CSCOPE.
Each Texas teacher in a CSCOPE district had to sign a contract with CSCOPE – a full page of legal descriptions binding the teacher not to reveal the content of CSCOPE to anyone outside the school. The teachers were not allowed to copy the contract nor secure legal counsel to interpret the content. The consensus among teachers across Texas is that they dislike CSCOPE intensely because it does not prepare their students academically for the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests.
Back in the early- and mid-2000’s, cottage industries were making huge amounts of money selling TAKS-related curriculum and benchmark tests to Texas public schools.
The Texas Education Service Centers (ESC’s) decided they wanted a “piece of the pie” and selected ESC-Region 13 (Austin) to write CSCOPE as an alternative to those of the cottage industry vendors.
CSCOPE started out to be a supplementary program. On the CSCOPE website, the program is advertised as a “curriculum management system.” However through careful marketing tricks by the ESC’s, CSCOPE’s lessons have become an all-in-one comprehensive curriculum used to direct instruction K through Grade 12.
Approximately 80% of public schools in Texas have purchased CSCOPE, using taxpayers’ dollars.
The ESC in Austin copyrighted CSCOPE in 2006 and marketed it through ESC newsletters, administrator/school board/teacher conferences. Then in 2009, the TESCCC (Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative) was set up as a 501(c)(3) organization, and CSCOPE was copyrighted. TESCCC has 19 members on its board, and they just “happen” to be 19 of the 20 directors of the ESC’s.
CSCOPE – A CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The Texas Attorney General’s office ruled on 4.4.12 (Opinion #449557– https://www.oag.state.tx.us/opinions/openrecords/50abbott/orl/2012/pdf/or201204869.pdf — that CSCOPE (TESCCC) is a governmental body and does fall within the scope of Gov. Code – 552.003(1)(A)(xii). This means that CSCOPE (TESCCC) is subject to the Public Information Act (PIA) and should be required to make public its curriculum, tax returns, check register, and bylaws.
However, because of Section 552.104 (Gov. Code) which makes an exception that protects a governmental body (such as TESCCC) from following the PIA if doing so would give competitors a demonstrable advantage by allowing them to develop similar products and harm the marketplace advantages of CSCOPE, the Texas Attorney General has ruled that CSCOPE (TESCCC) does not have to follow all the PIA requirements.
The lawyers who originally set up the TESCCC corporation undoubtedly knew exactly how to get around the PIA laws.
As a retired teacher stated recently, “The TESCCC has created CSCOPE and is selling it to Texas public school districts. Am I correct that this would be like employees for Anywhere USA, on company time, producing a product and then selling the product to Anywhere USA, pocketing the money for themselves?”
As another educator put it:
In other words, the ESC’s [i.e., TESCCC] are making a fortune built upon bogus marketing strategies that are not grounded in any independent research. Because the ESC’s are selling it across the state, the easily influenced administrators (who haven’t taught in classrooms in eons if ever) automatically practice cronyism and go along with the ESC’s by using taxpayers’ dollars to buy C-SCOPE. The marketing is done ‘free of charge’ through the ESC’s who pass the word among themselves and to all those educators who come to the ESC’s for training.
CSCOPE NEVER SCRUTINIZED BY SBOE
Another problem is that CSCOPE was never approved by our elected members of the Texas State Board of Education who have authority over curriculum standards. These SBOE members are also charged with making sure that instructional materials bought with taxpayers’ funds prepare students by following the SBOE-adopted curriculum standards.
To this date, CSCOPE (including its lessons and learning activities) has never gone through the intense Texas textbook adoption process in which public hearings are held and factual errors are documented, discussed, and verified. Neither has there been any follow-up to make sure that the errors in CSCOPE lessons and learning activities have been corrected.
As importantly, there has been no independent review of CSCOPE to make sure that its lessons and learning activities align with the new SBOE-adopted curriculum standards (ELAR, Science, Social Studies, Math).
Starting in May 2008, the SBOE took a gigantic step forward by changing the direction of the English/Language Arts/Reading, Science, Social Studies, and Math curriculum standards (i.e., TEKS).
The “old” curriculum standards and the “old” TAKS tests — many of them highly subjective and hard for both teachers and students to follow — were discarded. In their place, new, fact-based, academic, clearly worded, grade-level-specific (course-specific), and objectively tested TEKS and new STAAR/End-of-Course tests were implemented, starting with the 9th graders of 2011-12.
CSCOPE USING “OLD UNITS” BUILT UPON “OLD STANDARDS”
According to teachers in the field, CSCOPE’s lessons and learning activities are not aligned with the “new” curriculum standards and tests developed since May 2008. Many teachers in the field have reported that CSCOPE is aligned with the “old” standards/tests (CSCOPE originally written in 2006) and does not prepare their students well for the new curriculum requirements (adopted since May 2008) and for the new STAAR/End-of-Course Tests (first administered in Spring 2012).
WHY THE LACK OF TRANSPARENCY
What is in the CSCOPE lessons and learning activities that warrants teachers being gagged not to reveal the materials to parents or anybody else?
Science teachers have reported frequent scientific errors in the CSCOPE lessons and learning activities. Other teachers have objected to the over-emphasis on pro-Islam/anti-Christian/anti-Judeo content. English teachers have complained about the lack of CSCOPE’s sequential instruction of phonemic awareness, phonics, grammar, usage, correct spelling, cursive writing, expository/persuasive writing, and research techniques.
Many teachers believe that the present CSCOPE is actually the 2006 version of CSCOPE with bits and pieces from the new curriculum standards (TEKS) and new tests (STAAR/EOC’s) pasted in to give the appearance of legitimacy. Teachers say that the problem for the students is that they are being held to two different standards – one going back to the 2006 version of CSCOPE (based upon the 1997 TEKS curriculum standards) and the other based upon the new curriculum standards/tests adopted since May 2008. Instead of CSCOPE helping to get students ready to pass the STAAR/EOC’s so that they can graduate, CSCOPE adds confusion to their classrooms.
LEGISLATION OPENED DOOR
SB 6 (passed in the last legislative session) along with HB 4294 (passed on 5.19.09) have given public school administrators the clearance to order digitized textbooks (i.e., instructional materials) for students instead of hardcover textbooks.
Because many public school children now have only digitized instructional materials, unless parents can see their children’s CSCOPE lessons and learning activities, the parents will have no idea what their children are being taught.
PARENTS BEING WEDGED OUT
How can parents be involved in the education of their children if not allowed to see their children’s homework materials each evening?
Are parents even allowed to visit their children’s classrooms to view the CSCOPE materials? How many parents have the time to spend each day observing the CSCOPE lessons being presented? Why all the secrecy behind CSCOPE?
How can parents monitor what their children are being taught by the public schools if not allowed free access to instructional materials that their taxpayers’ dollars have purchased?
Is the objective of CSCOPE to wedge parents out of personal involvement with their own children?
Do public school superintendents have the legal right to prohibit teachers from revealing the lesson content of CSCOPE? Shouldn’t CSCOPE materials be treated in the same way that copyrighted textbooks are treated whereby everyone is free to see them and utilize the content so long as attribution, anti-plagiarism, and copyright laws are followed?
By law it is the local school administrators who are held accountable to make sure that the instructional materials used in their districts cover the SBOE-adopted curriculum standards and the tests based upon them (STAAR/End-of-Course). Who is making sure that CSCOPE’s lessons and learning activities are in alignment with the new requirements? Who is making sure that these local school administrators are held accountable for their choice to buy CSCOPE?
Has there been any public scrutiny of TESCCC’s non-profit status as a 501(c)(3) organization and their tax-exempt status?
LEGISLATIVE ACTION NEEDED
It is past time to call for transparency of CSCOPE. Parents and taxpayers deserve to have these questions answered.
Link to CSCOPE presentation — “Extreme Makeover: CSCOPE Language Arts Edition” — http://www.reg8.net/docs/31-CSCOPE%20Extreme%20Makeover-%20Secondary.pdf
11.13.12 — Comments from Donna Garner:
It is obvious yet again that CSCOPE teaches lots of its own terminology that takes oodles and gobs of teachers’ precious time but never quite gets around to teaching teachers the content knowledge that they must learn in order to teach students a concept. For instance, where does CSCOPE actually teach teachers how to teach students subject/verb agreement, how to recognize and avoid sentence fragments, punctuation of compound-complex sentences, homophones, inference, how to write a thesis statement, how to write an annotation, effective persuasive techniques, the differences between expository and persuasive writing, and on and on.
The way CSCOPE dances around the issue reminds me of the way that many schools teach Spanish. Students learn a great deal ABOUT the Spanish language, the culture, all the holidays, etc. but never quite get around to learning to speak, read, and write Spanish. CSCOPE spends countless hours training teachers in the gobblygook but does not give them the content knowledge to be able to present the ELAR/TEKS elements to their students.
This kind of CSCOPE in-service training is the kind that used to drive me and other experienced English teachers crazy – such a huge waste of time. Unfortunately, teachers who are in CSCOPE schools cannot just walk away from the in-service training, go back to their classrooms, and teach direct, systematic instruction of the ELAR skills because they are required to follow the CSCOPE malarkey.
“CSCOPE Conference in El Paso: Wrong Headed”
by Donna Garner
By reading through the agenda for the CSCOPE conference in El Paso (Oct. 26-27, 2012 — http://bit.ly/RgYfd4 ), a person can see clearly that CSCOPE is definitely Type #2. This means that the teachers who are being forced to use CSCOPE are not being prepared themselves to teach the new Type #1 Texas curriculum standards (TEKS) nor the new Type #1 STAAR/End-of-Course tests (EOC’s).
(Please read the following article to learn the differences between the two philosophies of education — published on 3.26.12 – http://libertylinked.com/posts/9703/2-education-philosophies-with/View.aspx )
As advertised on the CSCOPE online agenda for the El Paso state conference, Rock ‘n Learn (one of the four main education vendors being promoted by the CSCOPE conference) is obviously a vendor that pushes Type #2 Common Core Standards, balanced literacy, whole language, and metacognitive strategies – not Type #1 phonemic awareness/decoding skills that emergent readers so desperately need to be taught and which our new English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) TEKS require teachers to teach.
Equally upsetting was what WAS NOT taught to teachers at this CSCOPE conference. Because English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) form the basis of student success in all other school subjects, it is vitally important for CSCOPE to help teachers to improve their ELAR content knowledge so that they can better teach the new ELAR/TEKS (adopted in May 2008).
Not only was there no mention in the breakout sessions of the scientifically based way to teach children to read (direct, systematic instruction of phonemic awareness/decoding skills), but there was also no mention of cursive writing, grammar, usage, spelling, expository/persuasive/research writing, and the characteristics of the various literary genres.
It is these elements in the new ELAR’s that move teachers from the failed Type #2 Philosophy of Education into Type #1. It is these elements that have been missing from most Texas teachers’ classrooms for at least the last 10 to 15 years and which have led to the lack of English proficiency among our Texas students.
Unfortunately, many ELAR teachers do not know how to teach these Type #1 knowledge-based, academic skills because they came through the public schools during a period of time when whole language, invented spelling, holistic scoring, New Jersey Writing Project, and no emphasis on explicit grammar and usage were in vogue. Therefore, many teachers feel incapable of teaching the new Type #1 ELAR/TEKS.
What CSCOPE should be doing at its teacher conferences is to follow Texas education law (TEC) which requires teachers to teach the new TEKS to prepare their students for the new STAAR/EOC’s. CSCOPE should be doing all that it can to build teachers’ content knowledge in the foundational ELAR skills so that they, in turn, can teach their students to become excellent English speakers, readers, and writers.
CSCOPE is now operating in at least 80% of Texas public schools and is being supported by millions of taxpayers’ dollars. CSCOPE has never gone through any public hearings and has never undergone independent peer review to make sure that it aligns with the new Type #1 TEKS.
CSCOPE has operated in secrecy; no independent source has seen the materials and documented the factual errors nor has CSCOPE been held accountable to correct those factual errors. Reports from classroom teachers who are very familiar with the CSCOPE materials verify that they are full of errors and that students are constantly plagued by CSCOPE assessments that are not aligned with the curriculum.
The Texas State Board of Education has scheduled the first public hearing for CSCOPE on Nov. 15 at 2:00 P. M. in the Texas Education Agency building in Austin, Texas. The problem is that Texas teachers are scared to testify because of retribution that may come their way from administrators who are tied to the Education Service Centers/TESCCC that are behind CSCOPE. Hopefully brave classroom teachers (such as Stan Hartzler) will step forward to share their many concerns about CSCOPE, and Texas policymakers will then exercise due diligence to force CSCOPE out into the “light of day.”
Texas taxpayers and parents have a right to know what is being taught and what is NOT BEING TAUGHT to their public school children, and CSCOPE should have to follow the education laws of our state.
CSCOPE curriculum and assessments should be totally aligned with the Texas State Board of Education-adopted curriculum standards (TEKS) and with the STAAR/End-of-Course tests built upon those standards.
SB 6, passed by the last legislative session, has made local school administrators accountable to make sure that students in their school districts are prepared for the STAAR/EOC’s. CSCOPE is not fulfilling those requirements, and school administrators could rightfully have to relinquish their credentials for hampering the students in their districts from mastering the STAAR/EOC’s.
To explain why teachers and students alike are frustrated with CSCOPE, please look through the following resources:
Link to the YouTube video which is presented by CSCOPE supervisors to train teachers to generate a CSCOPE lesson plan:
“CSCOPE and Why It Causes Teacher and Student Burn Out”
by Donna Garner
This YouTube link — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8Hc6JV28B4&feature=related — is from August 9, 2011, and shows how a Texas teacher is supposed to use CSCOPE to create a lesson plan.
It is obvious from watching this YouTube that the actual learning activities (curriculum) are created by CSCOPE; therefore, when the TESCCC (Texas Educational Service Centers Curriculum) tries to portray CSCOPE as a “curriculum management system,” that is not a completely true statement.
By watching the YouTube, it is easy to see that CSCOPE not only forces teachers to spend numerous hours to generate a lesson plan (time better spent helping real kids in real classrooms) but that CSCOPE’s learning activities actually become the curriculum used in the classroom.
Bottom line: CSCOPE not only tells the teachers what to teach but tells them how to do it, when, and for how long – regardless of their students’ individual needs!
No wonder Texas teachers are frustrated with CSCOPE. The normal pattern used by many CSCOPE districts is to require the teacher (after she spends hours to generate the CSCOPE lesson plan) to send it by computer to various supervisors in the school district; and when each supervisor walks into the classroom with his iPad loaded with the teacher’s CSCOPE lesson plan for the day, the teacher is evaluated based upon her being exactly where her digitized lesson plan shows she is supposed to be.
That idea might sound fine to the non-initiated teacher but not to a capable teacher. Students are not “widgets” being produced on an assembly line. They are individuals with individual learning problems and individual questions.
CSCOPE drives the curriculum rather than allowing the needs of the students to drive the curriculum.
Heaven help the teacher who has a student who does not understand a concept and needs to have it explained a second time! The teacher simply does not have time to handle individual student learning problems (including questions, disciplinary problems, and other classroom distractors).
If the teacher is not exactly where he is supposed to be as indicated in his digitized CSCOPE lesson plan when the supervisor walks into the classroom, the supervisor may penalize the teacher on his teacher evaluation. For taking extra time to explain a difficult concept to students by using alternative strategies, the teacher could end up by not having his contract renewed.
Such scripted CSCOPE teaching makes “the teachable moment” a thing of the past. Teachers in CSCOPE schools can no longer spontaneously respond to students’ learning needs but must adopt a pre-set, “robotic” approach to teaching. What could be any more frustrating for well-qualified teachers and for their students who have to endure this type of teaching?
We also must remember that even though CSCOPE advertises itself in glowing terms, where is the independent, peer-reviewed research to prove its effectiveness in getting students ready for the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests built upon the newly adopted core curriculum standards in English/Language Arts/Reading, Science, Social Studies, and Math? No such research exists. In fact, CSCOPE has been allowed to operate in the dark because of its stringent copyright and gag orders.
The elected members of the Texas State Board of Education have decided to learn more about CSCOPE and will hold a public hearing on Nov. 15, 2012, at 2:00 P. M. in which witnesses will be encouraged to testify. This is in response to the many parents and concerned citizens from whom members of the SBOE have heard.
If anyone wants to present either oral or written testimony at this SBOE meeting, please contact me at email@example.com; and I will put you in touch with someone who will walk you through the process. Another option is to contact the Texas Education Agency by phone on Nov. 9 or Nov. 12 to register to testify. The Main Switchboard number is 512-463-9734.
Here is the link to the YouTube video which is presented by CSCOPE supervisors to train teachers to generate a CSCOPE lesson plan:
“CSCOPE: Trying To Operate Under the Radar”
by Donna Garner
Much scrutiny is being directed at CSCOPE, used by 80% of Texas public school districts. Those who control CSCOPE are running roughshod over Texas teachers and parents alike by trying to operate CSCOPE under the radar and out of public view.
Thankfully Texas has an easily accessible Texas Education Code which contains the statutes passed into law that govern education issues. Parents do have rights in this state over their children’s education. They do have a right to see what their children are being taught in Texas’ public schools.
This is the latest version of the Texas Education Code (effective July 2011) and contains the excerpts that should help parents to gain access to the CSCOPE materials and to make sure that students are allowed to bring the materials home.
Link to latest version (effective July 2011) of Texas Education Code: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/?link=ED
Link to Texas Education Code, Title 2. Public Education, Subtitle E. Students and Parents, Chapter 26. Parental Rights and Responsibilities, Sec. 26.006. Access to Teaching Materials:
Sec. 26.006. ACCESS TO TEACHING MATERIALS. (a) A parent is entitled to:
(1) review all teaching materials, instructional materials, and other teaching aids used in the classroom of the parent’s child; and
(2) review each test administered to the parent’s child after the test is administered.
(b) A school district shall make teaching materials and tests readily available for review by parents. The district may specify reasonable hours for review.
(c) A student’s parent is entitled to request that the school district or open-enrollment charter school the student attends allow the student to take home any instructional materials used by the student. Subject to the availability of the instructional materials, the district or school shall honor the request. A student who takes home instructional materials must return the instructional materials to school at the beginning of the next school day if requested to do so by the student’s teacher. In this subsection, “instructional material” has the meaning assigned by Section 31.002.
Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 260, Sec. 1, eff. May 30, 1995. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 805, Sec. 1, eff. June 14, 2001.
Amended by: Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., 1st C.S., Ch. 6, Sec. 12, eff. July 19, 2011.
DEFINITION OF INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS IN TEC, SEC. 31.002
Link to latest version (effective July 2011) of Texas Education Code, Title 2. Public Education, Subtitle F. Curriculum, Programs, and Services, Chapter 31. Instructional Materials, Subchapter A. General Provisions, Sec. 31.002, Definitions, Instructional Material:
Sec. 31.002. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
“Instructional material” means content that conveys the essential knowledge and skills of a subject in the public school curriculum through a medium or a combination of media for conveying information to a student. The term includes a book, supplementary materials, a combination of a book, workbook, and supplementary materials, computer software, magnetic media, DVD, CD-ROM, computer courseware, on-line services, or an electronic medium, or other means of conveying information to the student or otherwise contributing to the learning process through electronic means, including open-source instructional material.
(1-a) ”Open-source instructional material” means electronic instructional material that is available for downloading from the Internet at no charge to a student and without requiring the purchase of an unlock code, membership, or other access or use charge, except for a charge to order an optional printed copy of all or part of the instructional material. The term includes state-developed open-source instructional material purchased under Subchapter B-1.
(2) ”Publisher” includes an on-line service or a developer or distributor of electronic instructional materials.
(3) Repealed by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., 1st C.S., Ch. 6, Sec. 67(1), eff. July 19, 2011.
(4) ”Technological equipment” means hardware, a device, or equipment necessary for:
(A) instructional use in the classroom, including to gain access to or enhance the use of electronic instructional materials; or
(B) professional use by a classroom teacher.
Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 260, Sec. 1, eff. May 30, 1995.
Amended by: Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 679, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.
Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., 1st C.S., Ch. 6, Sec. 19, eff. July 19, 2011.
Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., 1st C.S., Ch. 6, Sec. 67(1), eff. July 19, 2011.
10.12.12 – CSCOPE HORROR STORIES
Janice Van Cleave, a retired Texas teacher, has put together a website to inform the public about CSCOPE. This site is called Texas CSCOPE Review and can be found at http://www.txcscopereview.com/
Janice and this website are alerting concerned parents and teachers about CSCOPE. Here are some e-mails from various sources all protesting CSCOPE because of the damage it is doing to our Texas public school children. Unfortunately, some 80% of Texas school districts have purchased CSCOPE.
10.7.12 – From Donna Garner:
I just had a teacher friend tell me tonight that the students who check into her high school and have been under CSCOPE do not have a clue as to the new terms and concepts found in the English / Language Arts / Reading curriculum standards (adopted in May 2008). She and the other English teachers are having to take these CSCOPE students and completely bring them up to speed, teaching them expository/persuasive writing, grammar, usage, literary analysis, etc. – all the concepts that are now found on the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests.
10.2.12 – From a teacher and taxpayer in Ector County ISD
Here is a month old newspaper article that says that Ector County spent $1.7 million to expand CSCOPE this year. They couldn’t find the pennies necessary to provide the students with Zaner-Bloser handwriting books, but they were able to come up with over a million for something for which they have absolutely no need, or worse yet, something positively harmful. On top of that, the classrooms are full of textbooks that no one is using! More money wasted.
Sent to Donna Garner from a parent 9.29.12:
Many of the teachers I have spoken with have also expressed their dissatisfaction with CSCOPE. In our district, they no longer write the test for their kids. The district actually delivers tests to them on test day and this is the first they see of the test.
The problem then becomes that they post the teachers name, along with an average of how their kids performed, in the teacher’s break room. This is supposed to put pressure on teachers to make sure they are covering all of their objectives, etc. The result however, is that my daughter’s teachers are actually giving the kids the answers to the test before they hand them out! (again, not that it matters, but she is in GT classes)
Since they had decided to end the use of text books, I asked to have access to the CSCOPE website so that I could help my kids study at home. I was denied a number of times, saying that they would have to purchase a license for me to gain access. I persisted, and they eventually opened up a parent portal. The parent portal is absolutely worthless, as I’m sure you know. I’ve asked many times to see what exactly the teachers are using to prepare their lessons, and they say they cannot allow access to that portion of the curriculum.
10.4.12 — From Donna Garner:
This link from ESC 12 (provided by Janice VanCleave and posted at the bottom of the page) clearly shows a CSCOPE presentation (copyrighted 2012) that stresses balanced literacy and Lucy Calkins. As you know, Calkins is behind much of the writing workshop/personal essay/whole language/balanced literacy/social justice approach: http://educationnext.org/the-lucy-calkins-project/ –
These two links can be valuable tools to show how far off base the ESC’s are leading our school districts – not emphasizing the direct, systematic instruction of phonemic awareness/decoding skills of Type #1 in the new ELAR/TEKS/STAAR-EOC’s but instead “the same old, same old” of the old TEKS/TAKS/Type #2.
I believe a strong case could be made that CSCOPE is not going to prepare our Texas students for the new STAAR/EOC’s because of misdirecting educators right back to the “old” TEKS.
ESC 12 presentation on CSCOPE and Balanced Literacy:
9.12.12 — CSCOPE AUTHORIZED USER AGREEMENT
CSCOPE AUTHORIZED USER AGREEMENT
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10.6.12 — Note from Texas Educator – CSCOPE thread at http://www.txcscopereview.com/ –
I wanted to thank all of the people that are chatting on this thread for being so concerned about all of the students in our Texas schools who are being exposed to CSCOPE.
I am an experienced, veteran teacher who is distraught over the use of an unproven curriculum on such a wide spread basis. Any curriculum materials affecting so many children should have undergone public review through our Texas State Board of Education.
I wanted to share some thoughts from the vantage point of a teacher who is currently being forced to use CSCOPE. Moms, please do not count on your classroom teacher to protect your child. Teachers today are fearful for their jobs in economic times where jobs for experienced teachers are hard to come by. Teachers are told that they must use CSCOPE or risk the accusation that they are not a “team player.” Teaching jobs are political in nature and teachers who have attempted to speak out publicly before the school board have been fired.
Teachers are so overworked with new mandates that many don’t have time to scrutinize the lessons. We owe a debt of gratitude to Ginger and Janice Van Cleave who have taken the time to pore over lessons to find the blaring propagandization of our students.
My experience is that the lessons are riddled with errors. The lessons are not developmentally appropriate for the age student, and they do not spiral properly up through the grade levels. We now have students who have gone through elementary school using CSCOPE who are now deficient in platform skills such as basic geography, recall of mathematical facts, and the ability to write cohesively. These students will never reclaim their formative years.
School districts should be forced to public accountability on this issue by parents.
The reasons given for CSCOPE implementation usually involve the need for a scope and sequence, which simply means that the teacher is told a timeline of what to teach and when to teach it.
Texas schools had a scope and sequence for years, much better than CSCOPE. CSCOPE lessons are overly heavy in cut and paste activities and putting students into discussion groups to discuss topics that students have never studied before.
The school claims that if a student moves from one place to another they can fall right in place with CSCOPE. When you send your child to school you expect your child to benefit from the the teacher’s unique creativity and passion, right? Well, that is deadened by the boring script we are expected to deliver using the bland CSCOPE lessons. Yes, we are all supposed to be saying the same thing on the same day as if we are robots.
There is no way for our students to achieve excellence in education with the widespread forced use of CSCOPE across our state. As a taxpayer, the saddest fact is that while schools are throwing money to the wind purchasing CSCOPE each year, students are often going without field trips and instructional material that has quality and substance.
Comments by researcher, Ms. Mac, sent to Donna Garner on 10.6.12:
Recently I was asked, as a researcher, to gather information about C-SCOPE, an educational program stated to be in over 800 Texas public school districts (Out of approximately 1200). What I discovered is disturbing.
The founding experts for this program, as revealed on administrative training materials, include Humanist, Linda Darling-Hammond (who has signed a pledge to be good without God) and Marxist, Lev Vygotsky.
Lessons reflect a positive bias toward Islam and a negative bias toward Christianity. Homework is discouraged so parents do not see the material. Textbooks are also discouraged so there is no consistent reference to support or question. Because this program is not reviewed by the State Board of Education, content is not scrutinized for quality or accuracy.
Ask your parishioners, who have children and grandchildren in the system, to demand clarity and explanation from school board members. Sadly, teachers and parents are often not informed about the philosophy and radical foundation behind this program. They have not been given an informed choice. Do not take my word for it. Investigate. Dig. Be persistent.
A new website entitled Texas CSCOPE Review http://www.txcscopereview.com offers a venue to post your thoughts and findings as well as to read reports from other concerned Texans.
Currently there are multiple attacks on Christianity. If we do nothing….we lose positive standing with our youth and the community at large. If we do nothing…we give our stamp of approval.
All Level Certified Teacher
Author bio: www.fortword.com
From e-mail sent to Donna Garner on 10.4.12:
This link from Texas Education Service Center 12 clearly shows a CSCOPE presentation (copyrighted 2012) that stresses balanced literacy and Lucy Calkins. Under the newly adopted English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) curriculum standards (adopted in May 2008), Texas public schools are supposed to be teaching phonemic awareness and phonics (i.e., decoding skills) – not whole language and balanced literacy:
Lucy Calkins is behind much of the writing workshop, personal essay, whole language, balanced literacy, social justice approach. Read more about Lucy Calkins at: http://educationnext.org/the-lucy-calkins-project/
These two links can be valuable tools to show how far off base the ESC’s are leading our Texas school districts – not emphasizing the direct, systematic instruction of phonemic awareness/decoding skills of Type #1 in the new ELAR/TEKS/STAAR-EOC’s but instead “the same old, same old” of the old TEKS/TAKS/Type #2.
I believe that CSCOPE is not going to prepare our Texas students for the new STAAR/EOC’s because of misdirecting educators right back to the “old” TEKS.
Please go to these articles to gain a full grasp of the differences between Type #1 and Type #2:
8.31.12 – “Better Days Lie Ahead for Texas Public Schools,” –http://libertylinked.com/posts/10062/better-days-lie-ahead-for/View.aspx
5.13.12 — “Texans: Must Keep STAAR/End-of-Course Tests on Schedule”
by Donna Garner –
3.29.12 — “STAAR-EOC Tests: Picking Alpha’s and Beta’s Brains” — by Donna Garner
3.26.12 – “Two Education Philosophies with Two Different Goals” – by Donna Garner –
10.23.12 – Comments from Donna Garner about CSCOPE “puff” piece:
Below is the link to the Wichita Falls newspaper in which CSCOPE is being lauded and acclaimed by the Wichita Falls ISD. This article is obviously a “puff piece” sent out by the CSCOPE establishment to squelch the legitimate concerns of parents and teachers who are rising up to question this curriculum. (Please be sure to read the comments posted at the end of the article.)
The Texas State Board of Education members knew what they were doing in May 2008 when they adopted the first brand-new set of curriculum standards (TEKS) for the public schools of Texas. Before the new English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR/TEKS) were adopted, the Board had set new parameters upon which to base the standards.
The “old” ELAR/TEKS were generic, inexplicit, subjective, and written in grade clusters of K-3, 4-8, and 9-12. Nobody knew for sure what was to be taught nor learned at each grade level (or course level). This lack of clarity and direction ended up with school districts hiring numerous curriculum directors and consultants to try to establish vertical (K through 12) and horizontal alignment (by grade level) since the TEKS documents themselves did not do that. Everyone disliked the TAKS tests intensely because nobody knew for sure what would be tested nor how the questions would be graded subjectively.
A vast improvement occurred when the new ELAR/TEKS were adopted in May 2008 because they are explicit, knowledge-based (fact-based), academic (instead of subjective), and can be largely tested through objective questions (right-or-wrong answers).
Since the adoption of the new ELAR/TEKS in May 2008, new TEKS have also been adopted for the other three core subject areas – Science, Social Studies, and Math. New tests called the STAAR/End-of-Course tests have been developed and are based upon the new parameters set for the new TEKS.
The new STAAR/End-of-Course tests also take only 4 hours per test to take whereas the TAKS tests required normal classes to be shut down all day for one TAKS test to be given.
Teachers no longer have to guess what will be on their students’ STAAR/EOC’s. The new TEKS make it possible for parents, students, and teachers to pick up a document (such as English I) and to know what should be taught and learned in English I. After going through the present three-year transition period, they can be assured that the new STAAR/End-of-Course test will test the exact TEKS that have been adopted for English I (and the preceding grade levels). No longer do English I teachers have to worry that their students at the end of the school year will be tested on what is to be taught in English II, III, and IV. The goals for each grade level and course level are clear. The students, parents, and teachers all know what the goals are; they are explicitly stated in the TEKS documents themselves. The English I teachers know what they are held accountable to teach; and the rest of the English teachers know their assignments, too.
This simple change to the new TEKS means that school district curriculum directors are no longer needed because the classroom teachers themselves know exactly WHAT they need to teach. All they have to do is to decide HOW they are going to teach the TEKS requirements assigned to their grade level/course level, and most creative teachers enjoy the challenge of formulating their own teaching units.
CSCOPE is a waste of time and money, and it is not cheap. For instance, Ector County ISD just spent $1.7 Million this school year on CSCOPE; some 80% of districts across the state have purchased CSCOPE. More importantly, CSCOPE is not needed now that everyone knows what the goals at each grade level (course level) are. Teachers working with other teachers in their school or area can create teaching units that will fit their students without having to use a statewide, “cookie-cutter” approach, and the teachers can establish their own timelines using their own materials to determine how best to cover the TEKS for their specific grade level/course level.
Taxpayers, just think how much money could be saved across the state if curriculum directors’ jobs were discarded. Most of them make upwards of $80,000, and many districts have more than one. Often, the curriculum directors turn right around and hire consultants from CSCOPE to come into the district to train teachers.
CSCOPE is pieced together from the version based upon the old 1997 TEKS and the new TEKS. This has created a complicated mess once this gets to the classroom where the teacher for the sake of his students has to try to make sense of the lack of cognitive progression of the lessons.
Ironically enough, when any classroom teachers submit their teaching strategies to CSCOPE, those teachers lose their legal rights to their own ideas; that is part of the CSCOPE contract which teachers are forced to sign under duress.
CSCOPE is stealing valuable dollars and creating needless deadlines for students and teachers to meet. Students cannot learn in an environment where everyone in the classroom, including the teacher, is under extreme time pressure.
To view an actual CSCOPE lesson planning video and to see how time consuming and complicated the task is for the teacher, please go to — http://educationviews.org/cscope-and-why-it-causes-teacher-and-student-burn-out/
To read the article in the 10.7.12 edition of the Wichita Falls Time Record News, please go to the following link. Please be sure to read the comments posted below the article:
“Veteran Math Teacher Tells All: CSCOPE”
by Stan Hartzler
[Stan Hartzler, Ph.D., is a veteran math teacher in Luling ISD, Luling, Texas. Hartzler is being required to use CSCOPE, and he is rightfully opposed to it. He is an internationally known math expert who has conducted over 500 math presentations, is a published author, and a math curriculum specialist.
Below Hartzler’s comments, I have posted my own article about the CSCOPE statewide conference held in El Paso in Oct. 2012 in which CSCOPE’s wrong-headed approach to education is documented. – Donna Garner]
*I have Stan Hartzler’s permission to publish his comments.
SENT TO DONNA GARNER FROM STAN HARTZLER, 11.4.12:
To Texas Classroom Teachers Association, Texas Education Agency, Texas State School Board:
I write to ask for assistance with our CSCOPE situation in Luling ISD.
Having confirmed that CSCOPE is not a product of TEA, but of service centers, and having continued to see serious problems with the Lesson-Level requirement imposed by our superintendent and school board, I write to ask what my wife and I can do to bring official attention and accountability to our situation.
I am more familiar than most teachers with the oversight given to legitimate curricular materials approved for use in Texas. We have been told that no such oversight was rendered to CSCOPE.
CSCOPE materials have sentence fragments, incorrect word choice, and misleading definition/terminology, indicating that the lessons haven’t even been proofread, to say nothing of critiquing or scrutiny. I have helped publishers with such tasks, and every thing that I was ever given to evaluate was in far better condition than CSCOPE.
Many years of teaching algebra and extensive study of high school algebra for my dissertation have given me familiarity with many acceptable sequences of topics in algebra. Each topic enhances the previous and blends to the next, like the courses of an exquisite meal.
CSCOPE is, by contrast, a concoction of leftovers. We are told by sources outside our district that CSCOPE was never intended to be a curriculum, but was intended to be exemplary suggestions for varied topics. Use of the materials supports the accuracy of that description.
But Luling ISD teachers have been directed to teach only CSCOPE lessons, and to teach these as scripted, in the order listed, and on a timetable determined by CSCOPE. This one-size-fits-all package is replacing coherent, scrutinized, accepted Texas curriculum, and nullifying the improvising skills of teachers well-practiced in providing alternative approaches to meet the needs of individual students.
The worst part of CSCOPE is the testing program.
- Test items are often unrelated to the material in the unit associated with the exam. This has been described by our leadership as having diagnostic value. Were it not for the discouraging effect of the lesson-exam gulf on our disadvantaged students, this lame rationalization would be funny.
- One test item for Algebra 1 Unit 2 exam is exactly the same as a question on the Unit 3 exam. As this involves solving a complicated and easily revised equation, no excuse can be imagined for this. The situation involves instruction on such solving between the two exams, which suggests the possibility that a repeat answer will show artificial gains favoring the assumed merits of CSCOPE.
- Merits of the first two Algebra One exams include questions concerning a wide variety of topics. The questions on the third exam are remarkably alike, and resemble the homework from a single section of a remedial-level, general education mathematics class. One suspects that the writer was about to miss a deadline and had to improvise quickly.
- Luling ISD has attempted to compensate for this mess by telling the teachers not to count the test scores. Students are left to wonder what they are working for.
I could go on and on.
I am as a surgeon forced to use filthy scalpels. So long as I cooperate, I am guilty of malpractice. I am looking for a teaching position elsewhere, and will take one as soon as I find one and my school can find a replacement for me.
But I should not have to look for employment elsewhere. My school district expects much of me, and I deliver. The district must deliver also.
Specifically, I should have access to tools that work. My school district is not providing me with any such tools. My district is requiring me to use tools that occasionally work superficially, and supervising us closely to insure that we don’t make any changes.
I should be able to ask or require TEA, the State School Board, or a legislative committee to step up and require that my district provide me with officially accepted materials and the freedom to make those tools work for all of my students. I have no trouble finishing a course on time or writing good exams, or meeting the expectations of such as the STAAR exam.
Is there a mechanism for me to attract the attention of the TEA, the State School Board, or the legislature to our situation?
Contemplating Resignation from LISD
I agreed to teach in Luling with the expectation that I would use my experience in sequencing topics, diagnosing, explaining, creating, adjusting, and providing for recall, synthesis, and problem-solving adventures.
Since being hired, the LISD School Board and Superintendent have elected to require use of CSCOPE Lesson-Level. Given the CSCOPE calendar, topics, sequence, lesson scripts, and exams, most of my teaching experience is denied to my students. Our schedules are full of extra responsibilities and more training than most anyone can absorb.
Of more importance, my experience in education tells me these things:
- The CSCOPE sequence is absurd at times, like an effort to build the second story of a house before the first floor is begun.
- The conspicuous lack of coordination between lessons and exams is bewildering and discouraging to students.
- The mathematics lessons contain misleading and erroneous directions and definitions, at times expressed with sentence fragments and grammatical errors. Such suggests that the material was not proofread, to say nothing of critique.
- Little evidence is found that the material was tested in classrooms. Page layouts do not provide room for students to show work in logical order, nor provision for efficient cut-and-paste action.
Mathematics content and learning provides abundant opportunities for teacher creativity in improving learning opportunities. My free-of-charge web site, www.classappcogpsych.com, has one-third of a gigabyte of ideas, shared with appreciative and disentrenched teachers in over 500 out-of-district presentations since 1982. The requirement that I follow time-worn “innovations” shabbily included in CSCOPE stifles opportunity to flexibly address the varying needs of my students, with these ideas and others yet undreamed of.
Also in that web site are successful programs for use, or for examples, to provide for student recall and synthesis. Where teachers once were self-satisfied with good content knowledge (what is taught) and teaching strategies (how we teach), we now realize that teachers must also provide students with practice in recall, and support for generalization and discrimination.
Furthermore, teachers should also provide for pinnacle experiences in the core subjects: problem-solving in mathematics, discovery projects in science, creativity in language arts, and cultural appreciation in social science. Such experiences require more time and inspiration than what CSCOPE provides.
I am troubled by considerations of resigning. I have accepted difficult challenges in education, often to the dismay of my family and friends, but usually on behalf of disadvantaged students, from a basis of hungry-and-you-fed Christian mission, usually with far more success than anyone expected. When I see the pleasant, intelligent, and lively students in my Luling classes have their difficult situation made more hopeless with the disorganized concoction that is CSCOPE, I am prone to head-scratching and sleeplessness.
In several ways, I have attempted to provide where our CSCOPE materials and requirements fail.
o First, of course, I pointed out that the calendar and sequence are less an issue than the requirement to follow the worksheets and scripts, and asked for some release from that latter demand. If the cosmetic “engagement” of CSCOPE activities could be replaced by work that engages involuntary attention (the bedrock notion of cognitive psychology), learning would occur. When I have done such replacements under administrative radar, students have been thoroughly engaged, and routine behavior impulses were non-existence. My request was denied.
o I have attempted to close the gulf between the lesson content and the exam content with take-home lessons, including directions, examples, and answer keys provided, and an invitation for students to come in on Saturday, when I could teach effectively.
Colleagues have suggested that I share my concerns with the LISD Superintendent. I hesitate. He has offered that what we teach, and how we teach it, are the only two things under teacher control that affect student outcomes. Our success with daily-review routines in Oklahoma City, and the thoroughly-demonstrated superiority of distributed practice over drill, including CSCOPE drill, make such an assertion absurd.
With due respect and admiration for anyone who takes on school administration, it therefore appears that CSCOPE is all that my Superintendent knows. When asked hard questions by teachers, his responses include “I’ve been asked that question a thousand times” before the question is dodged, or “I have no answer to that question.” Responses also include implications against the professionalism of doubting teachers, such as the notion that those questioning individuals resist innovation, being stuck in their ways.
Ultimately, my doubts about resigning are quieted by the belief that I know of no other way to express my grave concerns about this unscrutinized hodgepodge that is being passed off as curriculum. Other disadvantaged students are being subjected to this nonsense, and almost certainly by way of teachers with less experience with successful innovations.
I cannot be guilty of CSCOPE malpractice.
I am as fireman required to use garden hoses. At times, I feel like my job is to show exemplary results for the benefit of the garden hose manufacturer, not for the public good.
No public servant should put up with such.
Neither will I.
11.8.12 — [Please remember that the Texas State Board of Education is holding a public hearing on CSCOPE on Nov. 15, 2:00 in the Texas Education Agency building in Austin, Texas. If people want to testify, they need to go to the TEA website, scroll down on the left side to the SBOE link, and read the rules for public testimonies – both live testimonies or in written form. – Donna Garner]
Sent to Donna Garner on 11.8.12 by frustrated CSCOPE parent/teacher (S. J.):
My child is being taught with a CSCOPE curriculum in a district where I used to teach. She is incredibly frustrated with the material and knowing her teachers who are being forced to use this program, I feel for both my child and those teachers.
What I find so distressing is that this program has never been reviewed properly and it is full of mistakes. I am a teacher myself and have looked at this program and see a lot of errors. The assessments have issues in them and the questions don’t match the instructional material. I understand that there could be glitches in any program; however, I wonder if this program had been reviewed properly if those mistakes would have been allowed to remain.
I have been teaching now for 10 years and use a variety of resources to “reach” the students I teach. To assume that one program – CSCOPE — is your “fix-it” or your “cure-all” program is incredibly irresponsible and hinders the student.
When you have success rates as high as I have seen in years past from teachers, you should ask why. Is it the teachers? Is it the curriculum, etc? Most teachers don’t use just one way of teaching or just one educational resource. They use several methodologies. I don’t think there are any teachers who are under the delusion that their way cannot be improved or that they can’t learn any new ways. Therefore, “good” teachers always have several things in their “bag of tricks” to pull from.
I truly find it appalling that you have administrators who don’t ask their teachers what they think or they themselves haven’t been in a classroom in years. Yet, they get paid money to find a curriculum [CSCOPE] that they think works when they don’t even ask their teachers for their input.
I find it truly amazing in the world that we live in with all the avenues and resources at our disposal that teachers are being forced to use one program – CSCOPE.
As a parent, I don’t like not having access to a program [CSCOPE] that my child is being taught from. I asked for a copy of my child’s test because she failed it. I was told that I could come look at it but could not have a copy because FERPA backed the school’s decision. What? It’s not a TAKS test or a standardized test.
So, not sure what to make of the current educational climate with CSCOPE except to say that I see a great deal of frustration on the faces of teachers who use it and who do feel that they can’t be allowed to teach or use resources that they think will help and are superior.
5.26.09 — Donna Garner’s response to encourage a troubled teacher:
Lots of districts are using C-scope, but it does not teach teachers the deep content knowledge that they are going to have to know BEFORE they can really teach their students. For instance, when C-scope finishes aligning its materials with the new ELAR’s, the suggested teaching units will be built so that all ELAR’s are included (i.e., check the TEK off the list) but won’t necessarily be presented in a manner that flows cognitively from one concept to the next. In other words, I think C-scope will be similar to what the TAKS-prep folks produce. It is only when concepts connect that students will place them in their long-term memories.
As I understand it, C-scope was written by the ESC-types. I think the ESC’s decided they wanted a piece of the “cake” and did not want districts to keep giving away all their money to cottage industries for TAKS-based products. One day the ESC’s thought, “Why can’t we create materials that we can sell? After all, we control the assessment instruments, curriculum, etc. Why should all the money be going to the cottage industries?” Voila! Out came C-scope. Because the ESC’s have great influence with the local districts, it was easy enough to launch the product — not necessarily because it was the best but because the ESC’s could use their influence and also tout the alignment with the TAKS tests. (This is what Pearson has always done: “Buy our textbooks because we also write the TAKS tests.”)
I think the best thing for teachers to do with the new ELAR’s is to go through their lesson plans, check off the TEKS that are already implemented in their materials, and then create their own units that teach the left-out TEKS. There is no need to run out and buy someone else’s materials. I guarantee that teachers who create their own units to align with the new ELAR’s will be better teachers for having dug it out themselves, and I am willing to bet that the materials will make more sense to their students.