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THE MISH-MASH IN CSCOPE

Feb 6, 2013 by

donna_garnerby Donna Garner –

Reading through this CSCOPE Parent and Teacher Question & Answer (2007),  (http://www.banderaisd.net/Family_Center/General_Information/cscope%20Q&A.pdf ), I am more determined than ever that we must get Rep. Toth’s HB 760 passed.  His bill would give oversight to the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education  of the products (e.g., CSCOPE) from education service centers that address student curriculum.  The link to HB 706 is posted at the bottom of this e-mail.

CSCOPE MUST FOLLOW SAME PROCESS AS TEXTBOOKS

The CSCOPE digitized materials must be held to the same type of public scrutiny as are the textbooks adopted by the Texas State Board of Education.  As of the present time, CSCOPE materials have never been opened up for public scrutiny by the SBOE.  In fact, it took the chair of the SBOE six months to get a password to CSCOPE.  Most of the other SBOE members have not been given passwords, and CSCOPE has been allowed to operate “under the radar.”  Parents have not known what CSCOPE has been teaching their children.

Our legislature must make sure the CSCOPE materials go through the well-orchestrated textbook adoption process (i.e., instructional materials) in front of the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) and under the full scrutiny of the public.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF CSCOPE WERE TO GO THROUGH TEXAS TEXTBOOK ADOPTION PROCESS?

If CSCOPE were to go through the Texas State Board of Education adoption process, those factual errors, spelling/grammar/usage errors, and inappropriate lessons (e.g., Boston Tea Party terrorists, pro-Islam/anti-Christian lessons, etc.) would be revealed by the independent evaluators who would testify publicly (such as Neal Frey of Educational Research Analysts – the organization known as the best textbook evaluators in the entire United States).  Neal Frey goes over every dot and tittle of a textbook, carefully documents the mistakes, and presents the rationale and research behind his evaluations.

If CSCOPE were to go through the same SBOE adoption process, once the errors were identified and a list of those errors was approved by the SBOE, CSCOPE would have to pay a heavy fine for each error left in their materials.

It is this type of public pressure through the Texas textbook adoption process that has forced the textbook publishers to “clean up” the majority of their errors.  CSCOPE must be held to the same standard.

It is also this Texas textbook adoption process that explains why so many other states have learned to do their textbook adoptions the year after we complete ours. We catch the errors; the textbook publishers fix them; and then they sell the corrected books to other states.

WHY SUCH A MISH-MASH OF CONTENT IN CSCOPE?

Parents around the state of Texas have been asking, “Who wrote the CSCOPE content and lessons? “  “Who wrote the CSCOPE assessments?”  We were never given a satisfactory answer at the Texas Senate Education Committee’s public hearing on 1.31.13.

After going to the following link and reading through Questions 7, 8, and 17, we now know.  Be sure to notice the name Linda Hammond (current name is Linda Darling-Hammond) and others in Question 17: http://www.banderaisd.net/Family_Center/General_Information/cscope%20Q&A.pdf

CSCOPE’s lessons and assessments were written by myriads of different Education Service Centers (ESC’s) and an assortment of other writers, known and unknown.  I quote from the Q&A document:

Region 13 oversees the math and science lessons, while Region 10 is responsible for writing the assessments.  Region 10 pulled test items from the WebCCAT databank instead of developing test questions based on what was taught on the lessons…Questions on the assessments that are not relevant to the lesson should be marked out and not counted against the students.

 

 

This confluence of various writers created a huge problem for the end product and explains why there is such a mish-mash of uncoordinated material in CSCOPE.

 

 

 

DECISION MAKERS – ADMINISTRATORS OR CLASSROOM TEACHERS?

 

Under the CSCOPE adoption model, the decision to purchase CSCOPE is largely made by the administrators. They, of course, are heavily influenced by the ESC’s that market CSCOPE vigorously.  Local classroom teachers are seldom involved in whether or not to adopt CSCOPE.

 

 

This is not the case with the SBOE textbook adoption process where the local textbook adoption committees are normally composed of current classroom teachers.

 

 

Under the SBOE textbook adoption process, the first thing that the local textbook adoption committees do is to look at the list of textbooks already approved by the SBOE.  The books on the list have previously made it through the public scrutiny at the state level where the weakest textbooks have already been removed.

 

 

When the local textbook adoption committee meets with the publishers and then goes through the textbook materials to decide which one to recommend to their local administrators for adoption, the members of the committee look carefully at the textbook content and the testing program, making sure they closely align.

 

 

In fact, good publishers have learned that it is in their best interest to hire the same people to write both the curriculum content and the quizzes/exercises/tests. This makes sure the content presented in the textbook is the same content that students are expected to know on their quizzes/exercises/tests.  By hiring the same team of writers, publishers can use that strategy as a good sales pitch to market their materials to the local teacher adoption committees.

 

 WHY CSCOPE HAS HUGE GAPS

 

When I think about the way CSCOPE was written by a myriad of different ESC’s and writers, it is no wonder that huge gaps exist.  This leaves the classroom teachers to resolve the sticky task of trying to make all of the mish-mash pieces fit together in order to present a smooth, cognitive-learning progression for the students at the classroom level.

 

 

With the mish-mash that is in CSCOPE (1600 different lessons), it is an impossible task for classroom teachers to fix.  This explains why they and their students are so frustrated with the gaps and missing pieces in CSCOPE.

 

 

CSCOPE NOT NEEDED

 

Texas teachers do not need CSCOPE when they have textbooks that are carefully aligned with the new curriculum standards (TEKS) that have passed through the arduous SBOE textbook adoption process.

 

 

All of the new English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) textbooks have already been carefully vetted by the SBOE.  Why should school districts spend millions on CSCOPE to teach ELAR K-12?

 

 

New supplementary science materials have also been vetted by the SBOE as a stop-gap measure until the new Science textbooks built upon the new Science curriculum standards are adopted by the SBOE.

 

The new Social Studies curriculum standards are explicit, and teachers can build their own Social Studies units if given the time and the resources.  In School Year 2015-16, new Social Studies textbooks will be in the classrooms.  Until then, there is a wealth of worthy Social Studies materials online and in other textbooks – just so long as the content is aligned with the new Social Studies TEKS adopted by the SBOE.

 

 

The new Math TEKS are quite clear and are specific for each grade level/course.  Teachers can build their own units, pulling material from traditional textbooks (e.g., Saxon Math) until the new Math textbooks are adopted by the SBOE.  K-8 Math textbooks will be in classrooms in 2014-15, and new high-school Math textbooks will be ready in 2015-16.

 

AN ASIDE – ECTOR COUNTY ISD

 

COMMENT: Ector County ISD’s STAAR/EOC results were released today (Grades 3-8). Students’ scores were on the average 10 points below those in the rest of the state.  The sad thing is that ECISD paid CSCOPE $1.7 million just this year and spent additional thousands to purchase Guided Reading by Fountas & Pinnell.  Guided Reading is a whole language/balanced reading program that is not aligned with the new ELAR curriculum standards nor with the new STAAR/EOC’s.  Whole language/balanced reading has been totally discredited by the NIH reading research.

 

Interestingly enough at the Senate Education hearing, the CSCOPE staffers said school districts in district had spent $15 Million to buy its product; but if 70% to 80% of the schools in Texas have bought CSCOPE and ECISD has spent $1.7 of that amount, then the total state amount for CSCOPE has to be well above $15 Million. I am no mathematician, but something is badly wrong with this picture!   

 

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ACTION STEP: REP. STEVE TOTH’S HB 760 — The CSCOPE Transparency Act To Ensure Consistent Oversight of Public School Curriculum – Please read Rep. Toth’s HB 760 and look at the list of House members who are joint authors and/or co-authors. We must have literally hundreds of House members sign on to this bill in order to get it out of the House Public Education Committee and to the House floor for a vote. This will take all of us contacting our House members and insisting that they support HB 760.   

 

IMPORTANT – LINK TO REP. STEVE TOTH’S HB 760:

 

http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB760

 

 

 

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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