Mar 13, 2013 by

cscope[Ann Work of the Wichita Falls Times Record-News did a great job writing this article on CSCOPE and Midwestern State University. I have only one addition to make and have inserted it inside the brackets in the article posted below. – Donna Garner]



3.13.13 – Wichita Falls Times Record-News


MSU doesn’t train for CSCOPE

Students instead taught to use variety of instructional methods

  • By Ann Work
  • Posted March 13, 2013 at 4:52 a.m.
  • Discuss
  • Print
  • AFuture teachers being prepared by Midwestern State University don’t have a clue about CSCOPE or how it will affect their teaching, according to Matthew Capps, dean of MSU’s West College of Education.

MSU education professors aren’t talking to their students about CSCOPE’s unique delivery style or its limitations because, like Capps, they still haven’t seen the online curriculum and don’t have any information about it, he said.

This is not a new problem, Capps said Monday.

“When CSCOPE first started, we wanted access. There wasn’t an avenue at that time, and there still isn’t.”

That reality won’t change anytime soon, he said, “unless I can break into it somehow.”

For example, teachers in training at MSU are still being taught that they should use a variety of instructional approaches in the classroom, Capps said.

He was unaware that CSCOPE uses exclusively the 5-E model.

“I don’t know if our students know (the specific CSCOPE delivery model) because I don’t know (the specific delivery model),” Capps said. “We can’t get in to see what CSCOPE is.”

CSCOPE is the curriculum management system used by 36 of the 37 school districts in North Texas’ Region 9. It also directs instruction in 70 percent of school districts throughout Texas.

It is stocked with 6,000 lessons built on the 5-E Instruction model: Engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate.

In 5-E, teachers are facilitators who raise questions. A teacher must accept “all reasonable responses” as she builds student discussions about the material.

The 5-E teaching model is required in WFISD.

Direct instruction — the old stand-and-deliver model — is considered outdated.

[Insert by Donna Garner — comments about the above statement:  The only thing I would add is that the direct, systematic method of teaching is not really a “stand and deliver” model although that is the way that the constructivists like to portray it. I always taught with direct instruction and moved around the room constantly. I had kids coming to the front to present various parts of the lessons, had choral and individual responses, had role playing going, had groups of students who scooted their desks together for peer tutoring moments or for group activities, used all sorts of at-risk strategies with manipulatives, audio/visual/kinesthetic sensory instruction, constant questions/answers between the teacher and each student, etc.  Direct instruction has the teacher driving the lesson plan and not the students deciding when and if they want to learn. The teacher sets the goals for the class session, but she can use all sorts of methods to carry out the teaching of the lesson.


Direct instruction is by far the best style of teaching because when the students walk into the room, the teacher is at the front and establishes his authority. Then once the lesson starts, he can have the students move their desks into all sorts of configurations and do all sorts of hands-on activities; but once the class ends, the desks are moved back into rows so that the teacher is at the front to establish his authority for the incoming class. 


Think about it this way:  If you were in a community group and the chairs were all arranged into circles, what would be the natural thing to do?  Talk to each other…even when the chairman of the group starts to talk. Why would we expect students to be quiet and listen intently if they are sitting in conversational circles, pods, and/or tables?  The teacher needs to establish the authority and the discipline at the first of the class period. Those first three to five minutes are the most important of all because order is established, concepts are explained, directions are given for the class, clarifications are made.  


In constructivist classrooms, the students walk in and immediately take over the classroom, sitting in close proximity to each other in pods/circles/tables; discipline is not established; the students feel they are in charge.  They then become chatty and feel the teacher is of no real value since she is the facilitator and not the teacher whom they need to respect.


The distractors in the constructivist classrooms are mind-boggling – colorful, stimulating sensory objects everywhere – mobiles hanging from the ceilings, things plastered on every wall.  At-risk students (including ADD/ADHD students) who have trouble concentrating are destroyed by such stimuli; they are energized and aroused by it and cannot focus on the teacher’s instruction.


In some classrooms, it is even hard “to find the teacher” because of all the distractors in the classroom.  When students have their backs to the teacher because of sitting in circles/pods/tables, they, of course, are not going to see her body language which reduces the teacher’s ability to communicate. 


Direct, systematic instruction where the students come into the classroom, see the teacher at the front of the room with straight rows facing him sets the atmosphere where students are to be students and teachers are to be the authority figures, deserving of respect. That may not seem very important, but it is the essence of establishing consistent discipline which has to come first and foremost before any quality instruction can occur.]



CSCOPE is also in use to varying degrees at Bright Ideas Charter School and at one area private school, Wichita Christian School.

Most MSU education students will graduate and be hired by a CSCOPE school, since most Texas schools and the locals use it, Capps said.

Still, CSCOPE remains a mystery to him and thus to most students.

“We would certainly like to expose our students to it. It’s another type of instruction model. It would put our students ahead of the game. They’d begin ready to deal with it if they went into a district that used it,” he said.

WFISD’s content and pace of lessons is planned by CSCOPE, as well — details that Capps said he didn’t know.

MSU students learn many instruction models, such as direct instruction, Socratic questioning, group instruction, and the 5-E model, Capps said. They are taught they, as the instructor, drive the type of lesson they give and that if one type of instruction doesn’t work, try another.

No one method will work for every student, he said, and a good teacher shifts to another teaching style when a child says, “I don’t get it,” he said.

“If all you know is one way, and the kid doesn’t get it, you’ll get in a jam,” he said. “A lot of kids need to see things a different way. If CSCOPE is the only way to do it and do it this way, that may generate a problem. It needs to be a tool in each teacher’s toolbox with a lot of other things they can use.”

WFISD schools use CSCOPE’s 5-E model exclusively unless achievement scores are high enough to earn some flexibility. No WFISD school has earned such flexibility, according to WFISD Superintendent John Frossard.

Only Advanced Placement and pre-AP courses in the public schools depart from CSCOPE methodology, since they reflect College Board philosophy.

Hirschi High School’s International Baccalaureate courses also are unhooked from CSCOPE, since IB coursework is driven by its international curriculum that originates in Switzerland.

Capps said he couldn’t make a judgment about CSCOPE, since he knows so little about it. However, he criticized the business model of education — on which CSCOPE is based — that attempts to standardize instruction. “The concept that everybody can get there at the same place at the same time — it’s just not going to happen,” Capps said.

However, CSCOPE paces all teachers of the same subject matter so they all teach the same lessons at the same time.

Critics say such a business model creates uniform instruction so the state can eventually pay teachers according to their students’ test scores.

Capps said more than half of the state’s new teachers come into the profession through alternative certification programs, creating a large group of teachers who might benefit from a scripted delivery system like CSCOPE.

Capps met recently with Tim Powers, WFISD assistant superintendent, and requested access to CSCOPE, he said.

“(Powers) said he would like for us to be able to do that. He’s trying to figure out a way to make that happen,” Capps said. “We just can’t get an inside track to it.”

It took six months for Barbara Cargill, chairman of the State Board of Education, to obtain a password that gave her CSCOPE access.

Parents are legally guaranteed access to CSCOPE — and all classroom materials — by the Texas Education Code, Chapter 26, Section 26.007.

However, they are still unable to view CSCOPE unless they make an appointment with a teacher and sit with her at the school to study lessons on a computer screen.

Follow Ann Work on Twitter @AnnWork1.



Donna Garner


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts


Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.