NO TO CURRICULUM MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
by Donna Garner –
After Tom Pauken (candidate for Texas Governor) was on the Alice Linahan Radio Show on 10.28.13, I sent out a response to his comments since he mentioned me and the fact that he and I disagree on HB 5 (10.28.13 — “Tom Pauken’s Misinformation About Texas Public Schools” — by Donna Garner — http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blogs/tom-pauken-s-misinformation-about-texas-public-schools-by-donna
On Alice’s show (10.28.13), Tom Pauken said there needs to be “a new curriculum management system” set up in Texas.
Let me explain to Tom Pauken and to many other people who have never been classroom teachers: Texas does not need a “new curriculum management system.” There is nothing wrong with our elected members of the Texas State Board of Education adopting the curriculum standards (TEKS) for our Texas public schools to follow. We as voters have had the opportunity in a free and open election to vote into office the SBOE members who reflect our particular values and beliefs so that those can be inculcated into our public schools.
During the adoption of the TEKS, myriad opportunities are given for the public to voice their concerns in both public hearings and e-mails, phone calls, personal contacts, snail mail, etc. Writing teams made up of teachers, administrators, parents, businessmen, and private citizens help to draft the TEKS which also gives multiple opportunities for public input.
Once the TEKS are adopted by the SBOE, then those curriculum standards become the foundation for instructional materials (e.g., textbooks), day-to-day instruction in students’ classrooms, in-service training, ed-prep instruction in colleges/universities, and state-mandated tests (STAAR/End-of-Course tests).
The TEKS are the roadmap, and the TEKS that we now have in the four core subject areas (English/Language Arts/Reading, Science, Social Studies, and Math — adopted since May 2008) reflect the Type #1 philosophy of education (http://educationviews.org/2-types-of-education-philosophies-chart/ ).
Basically Type #1 means the Texas curriculum standards are traditional/knowledge-based/academic, emphasize back-to-the-basics core knowledge and skills that grow in depth and complexity from one grade level to the next, are specific for each grade level (or course), and can be tested largely through objective questions that have right-or-wrong answers. Texas is the only state in the nation that has Type #1 curriculum standards in the four core subject areas.
Even though the SBOE with the help of much public input sets the TEKS “roadmap,” Texas teachers have the freedom to create their own lessons based upon the TEKS. This is where the creativity comes in; and teachers love to decide how to group the TEKS into units so that by the end of the year, all of the TEKS have been taught. Teachers also enjoy figuring out creative ways to get students involved with the instruction and should be free to utilize various methods so long as the students are prepared by the end of the year for the accountability measure – the STAAR/End-of-Course tests.
Unfortunately, the Education Service Centers got the bright idea that they should create a curriculum management system (CSCOPE) complete with lessons and assessments. As bad as the lessons and assessments are, one of the worst things about CSCOPE is the curriculum management system (CMS) because teachers are no longer free to decide the order of presentation of the TEKS nor how fast nor how slow to go depending upon the students’ abilities.
Students are not robots; each one is unique; each classroom is unique. The best teachers have learned how to individualize their instruction, how to group the TEKS elements into creative teaching units, and how to move through them smoothly based upon their students’ abilities. Teachers should be allowed to decide on the order of presentation – not some curriculum management system.
For instance, I as an English teacher taught verbs before teaching nouns because I believe strongly that the English sentence is built around the verb. Once a student can find the complete verb, then all he has to do is to say “who” or “what” to find the subject. Once he locates the subject and verb, he can easily locate the clause and can determine whether the clause is dependent or independent. At that point, he can decide how to punctuate the sentence and how to add varieties of sentence structures to his writing and speaking.
On the other hand, the English teacher across the hall may feel that nouns need to be taught before verbs. That should be the teacher’s decision as to when, how, and for what period of time he should teach a particular concept or concepts. These decisions on time management should not be put in the hands of a curriculum management system.
The curriculum management system for CSCOPE (now renamed the TEKS Resource System) forces teachers and their students into a tight mold by handcuffing them into a set time frame of instruction and a pre-determined order of presentation. This has all been tied back to the Type #2 philosophy of education which seeks to indoctrinate instead of educate. (The Common Core Standards are also Type #2 and reflect the same type of content that the CSCOPE lessons and assessments do.)
It is that curriculum management system along with the Type #2 philosophy that thoroughly frustrates teachers and students alike. Students resent having to move on to the next concept when they have not understood the present one yet. They (and their teachers) also particularly resent having to take CSCOPE assessments that are not tied to the content of the lessons! It is this frustration that leads students to drop out of school because they feel hopelessly lost.
Not only that but CSCOPE has created “learned helplessness. CSCOPE is like taking drugs. Once a person takes it for a period of time, he goes into withdrawal when the drugs are removed. Teachers who have gotten used to leaning on CSCOPE for years now think they cannot live without it; but the truth is that teachers once weaned off the “drugs” will readily enjoy the freedom of being able to create their own teaching units and tests aligned with the new TEKS. [The difference between “tests” and “assessments” is generally that tests have right-or-wrong answers; assessments are based upon subjectively scored rubrics built upon the graders’ opinions and belief systems.]
As of several months ago, the Type #2 CSCOPE lessons were placed in the public domain and can now be utilized by any Texas teachers even though there has never been any independent, peer-reviewed, replicated research to prove that the CSCOPE lessons are aligned with the new TEKS, nor that the CSCOPE lessons are aligned with the CSCOPE assessments, nor that the CSCOPE lessons and assessments produce student academic achievement on the STAAR/EOC’s.
Because the Type #2 CSCOPE assessments are so poorly designed and are not aligned with the CSCOPE lessons, Texas teachers got to the breaking point. Defying the secrecy placed upon them by CSCOPE, they decided to alert the public; and many of the CSCOPE assessments were sent out widely on the Internet.
This means that the security over the CSCOPE assessments has been broken and that students who have access to them would have an unfair advantage to prepare answers before the assessments are administered. Therefore, the only sensible thing to be done is to dump both the CSCOPE lessons and the CSCOPE assessments.
Not to be outdone, the ESC’s decided to come up with a work-around plan to keep making millions from school districts’ taxpayers. The ESC’s decided to rebrand their failed product from TESCCC to TCMPC and from CSCOPE to the TEKS Resource System. They would sell a curriculum management system along with the CSCOPE assessments. Of course, the assessments are absolutely useless because to be fair and effective, assessments must be tied to definite lesson content. The CSCOPE assessments never have been any good; and certainly they are totally useless now.
Taxpayers are left paying for a useless curriculum management system that strangles teachers’ abilities to innovate and teach to the needs of their students, and students are left taking useless CSCOPE assessments that are tied to WHATEVER!
Back to my message for Tom Pauken and others who have never been Texas classroom teachers: No, Texas does not need a new curriculum management system.
NEED TO KNOW
Another curriculum management system that is being sold to Texas schools is actually from New York: http://www.sharpschool.com/clients
HB 5 (http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB5#) passed by the 83rd Legislative Session contains many new requirements one of which prohibits a school district from giving to any student more than two benchmark tests in preparation for a state-administered test (STAAR/End-of-Course Tests).
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – PARENTAL ACCESS
For those school districts that insist on using CSCOPE lessons (or whatever the new name may be), the “elephant in the room” is still parental access 24/7 to the CSCOPE curriculum.
Statute established in the Texas Education Code (TEC) states that the school district must “allow the student to take home any instructional materials used by the student…The parent must be allowed to review all teaching materials, instructional materials, and other teaching aids used in the classroom of the parent’s child…A school district shall make teaching materials and tests readily available for review by parents.” (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 — http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.26.htm#26.004 )
Definition of “instructional materials” – “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. (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 —
9.8.13 – “Drag CSCOPE Into Computer Trash Bin” — http://educationviews.org/drag-cscope-into-computer-trash-bin/
9.7.13 — “The Loss of CSCOPE Assessments Not a Loss at All” — http://educationviews.org/the-loss-of-cscope-assessments-not-a-loss-at-all-by-donna-garner-9-7-13/
8.19.13 – “CSCOPE: Change in Strategy” – http://educationviews.org/cscope-change-in-strategy/
8.21.13 — “CSCOPE: The Truth Revealed for All To See” — by Donna Garner —
Texas Education Agency link to the 2013 Accountability Ratings: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/account/2013/statelist.pdf
8.27.13 –PLEASE GO TO THE FOLLOWING LINK TO SEE THE UPDATED ANTI-CSCOPE RESOURCES LIST COMPILED BY DONNA GARNER: http://educationviews.org/updated-common-core-standards-resource-list-compiled-over-4-years-by-donna-garner/