Is CSCOPE Helping or Hurting Texas Schools
Part 3: CSCOPE Misrepresented by Owner
This is part 2 of a series of articles that respond to an article by Ann Work, in TimesRecordNews, Wichita Falls, Tx. See Ms. Work’s complete article here, CSCOPE Features to Help Schools.
In the following statements from Ms. Work’s article, Poplin refers to the Director of Region 9 in Wichita Falls. Ms.
I am still searching for CSCOPE features that are helpful to schools. If you know any, please add a comment.
“Some teachers have complained about the transition, Poplin said, but CSCOPE has injected standardization, consistency, timing and rigor into classrooms all over the state just in time for STAAR, the state’s hardest test yet.”
“Districts pay $7 per child annually, plus a technology fee, to have full access to CSCOPE.”
1. I want to start with the comment about the STAAR test. How does Ms. Poplin know how hard this test is. Only students are allowed to view the test when they take the exam. Since the results of the test has not and will not be released, there is no indication if the test was hard or easy. Besides, a test being hard is very subjective. TEA never said the test would be hard. The comment was that it would be more rigorous. This set the whole state education system whirling. But, the owners of CSCOPE quickly announced that CSCOPE was the answer. Being an online material, changes could be made quickly so that the CSCOPE curriculum was always in alignment with the TEKS. THIS IS THE TRICKY PART: The CSCOPE curriculum contains five documents that have copies of the TEKS written in different formats. The TEKS are revised every four years.
2. If it is CSCOPE curriculum that is being purchased and hailed as being standardized, why are schools paying for copies of the TEKS when they can be viewed on the TEA website for free.
3. If it is CSCOPE Instructional material that is being referred to as being standardized, consistent, timely etc…..How does Ms. Poplin know this? She and the other 19 owners of CSCOPE never had CSCOPE evaluated by an outside source. I ask a state representative about this and was told that since Ms. Poplin and the other 19 ESC directors are considered vendors, the products they produce do not have to meet any criteria. This is due to the state legislatures who must have had a bad hair day when they voted for SENATE BILL 6. This document gives school districts the right to purchase anything with our tax money.
But a new kink has been added. The superintendents and school board members must sign a document this year taking responsibility for what they purchase with Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA). OOPS! Schools with only CSCOPE and no text books are threading on thin ice with parents arm in arm with their lawyers waiting for them to come ashore. The big question is, “Why are superintendents purchasing CSCOPE when Ms. Poplin and the other 18 owners of CSCOPE loudly proclaim that CSCOPE is not for student use. In CSCOPE schools, what instructional material are students provided with?
The state is holding superintendents and school board members responsible for providing every student with INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS that cover all the elements of the TEKS adopted by the SBOE for each subject and grade.
1. You cannot trust that your school district is providing a proper education for your child.
2. You cannot trust that your school district is presenting appropriate lessons. For example, a CSCOPE elementary social studies lessons has incorrect descriptions for the Bill of Rights. See this here,
This series is to be continued.
Following is the part of Ms. Work’s article that I have not added comments to.
CSCOPE DOESN’T HAVE SPECIAL EDUCATION
This refers to Ms. Poplin.
When she began teaching in the 1970s, she worked until 2 a.m. building lesson plans for her special education students.
“It was difficult to know if I was teaching what they needed and to the rigor,” Poplin said.
A lesson is only as good as the person developing it, and a new teacher will produce something different from one with five years experience, she said.
With CSCOPE, Texas schools now have a year’s supply of ordered, constantly updated lesson plans developed by expert teachers in core subject areas, Poplin said.
John Tower Elementary Principal Stacy Darnall said she visited three first-grade classrooms one day after CSCOPE had been implemented in her school and watched one substitute and two regular teachers all teaching about spheres and congruency, using the same vocabulary but different activities. CSCOPE had provided the science of how to teach the lesson. “The art was still up to them,” she said.
CSCOPE lessons alert a teacher to problems a child might face in grasping the subject. “That one-size-all kid isn’t out there,” said Kelly Carver, Holliday’s middle school principal.
The ordered program of lessons, with the specific number of days to address each topic, prevents a teacher from elaborating for days on a favorite subject or floundering with an unfamiliar one.
Micki Wesley, Region 9 director of curriculum and instruction, said she would have been a better teacher with CSCOPE. “I never liked poetry. I’d teach it as fast as I could,” she said.
“It strengthens your weaknesses,” said Wendy Parker, a Holliday science teacher.
CSCOPE’s experts also unraveled the ambiguity of the state’s TEKS, a list of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills that teachers were supposed to include in each lesson but that were often so murky that it was difficult to understand exactly what the state wanted.
With teachers across the state teaching the same lessons on the same timeline, a child who moves from one district to another should be within two days of catching up to his new classmates, said Coby Norman, Chillicothe ISD superintendent.
Years ago, a new student might say he was working on decimals in his former class, when his new class covered decimals months ago.
“Now we have consistency across the state, which is priceless, in my opinion,” Norman said.
Unlike a printed book or document, CSCOPE’s online lessons can be — and are — updated constantly.
“It is a living document, a growing document,” said Darnall.
“CSCOPE is the only avenue that can respond that fast,” Norman said.
Some teachers using CSCOPE realize now that they never taught to the depth their students needed.
“I was teaching for 10 years and never going anywhere near the depth. We would read Chapter 1, then I’d give a chapter 1 test,” said Holliday science teacher Wendy Parker. “After using CSCOPE for a year, students complained, ‘Your tests are so much harder!’ I’d say, ‘You’re learning so much more than you used to!'”
Teachers who pandered to their own preferences have had to learn to “stay in your own lane,” Norman said.
They may have had a favorite subject that wasn’t in their grade level, but they made it fit. “They have to develop new favorites,” he said.
Change is frustrating, and CSCOPE isn’t a cure-all for classroom discipline issues, but, like a doctor’s scope, it has shined a light on a teacher’s job — and filled her toolbox — like never before, said Micki Wesley.
“Accountability and testing have changed the education landscape,” Wesley said. “If we don’t change, our kids will be left behind.”