Brazosport ISD Curriculum Redevelopment
At the request of a parent, I copied Dr. Karin Holacka explanation for her decision to implement CSCOPE. I am surprised that any superintendent would purchase CSCOPE when the Texas Attorney General is investigating the people responsible for this product for possible illegal actions.
Why A Superintendent Purchased CSCOPE?
Over the past few weeks, there have been many questions, comments and rumors regarding our district’s decision to implement a new curriculum framework. I value the comments received and feel it is important to clear up the misinformation about our curriculum development process and expectations.
History and Rationale:
In Spring 2012, the Board of Trustees was presented a report outlining findings from a curriculum audit. I requested that the curriculum audit be conducted based on my personal review of the curriculum and the performance data of our district.
Note that the word “curriculum” takes on a different meaning depending on the objective of the presentation.
The audit conducted by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) identified 137 findings indicating that our curriculum failed to meet the needs of all students and was in need of redevelopment.
TASB is a private professional organization for school board members. These members are using your school taxes to pay their membership fees to TASB as well as other TASB associated expenses. Your superintendent belongs to a sister group called TASA, Texas Association of School Administrators. Yes, all dues to TASA are paid with your school taxes. About $30 million school tax dollars are paid to TASB and TASA each year. WHY? This is a good question to ask your superintendent and school board members.
Now this is very interesting since TASA (Texas association of School Administrators) has asked superintendents to pledge to transform their Texas School District. Part of this pledge is to lead the schools away from state testing, which is the STAAR. This transformation started in 2006, the same year that CSCOPE was first sold to schools.
Not sure what the superintendent means about accountability measures–TEKS maybe. If so, these were introduced for the 2011-2012 school year.
In August 2012, we were notified that Freeport Intermediate School had officially moved into stage 3 of school improvement due to academic progress. As a campus in stage 3 of school improvement, a district is required to take significant action to improve performance. These actions include such things as repurposing the campus, changing the curriculum, overturning the campus staff, etc. Based upon analysis of the data, it was evident the core issue was not a sole campus performance issue. It was a district-wide issue with the root cause being the curriculum. Therefore, because we were required to take action, it was determined we would pilot the CSCOPE framework in the Brazosport High School feeder pattern.
I recently interviewed the state CSCOPE Director, Wade Lebay. I specifically ask Wade about schools using CSCOPE as their core curriculum.
The rollout of this pilot was not ideal due to the timing of finalized scores being received, and we anticipated there would be some stumbles along the way. We still believe it was our best option and opportunity. Initially, the curriculum was rolled out with the expectation that teachers would rigidly adhere to the exemplar lessons in CSCOPE. This was for the purpose of allowing us to analyze the framework quality, rigor, and resources needed. In November and December, our Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment department did a comprehensive analysis of the pilot. Based on their recommendation, it was determined that the CSCOPE framework provided us a quality baseline curriculum to use in redeveloping the district curriculum.
Really!? In NOv and Dec the state board of education had an open hearing about CSCOPE. In Jan. 2013 the senate education committee had an 8hour hearing. An unheard of event. CSCOPE is now being under investigation by the SBOE and senate ed. committee. School districts that continue to use the CSCOPE lessons do so at their on risk of presenting incorrect lessons for which parent would have cause to file suite over. Especially since there has been enough information that schools should not take such chances with the education of their students.
There has been a lot of recent attention in the media about the CSCOPE curriculum. Unfortunately, people with inaccurate information and a misunderstanding of curriculum design and state requirements have generated this attention.
Not True! The group investigating CSCOPE, will gladly come and speak to the parents of Brazosport ISD about CSCOPE. In fact, let me suggest panels–Brazosport superintendent and school board vs. the TxCscopeReview Team. We will bring proof of what we say and would expect the same from the Brazosport panel.
Curriculum design is a very difficult and time consuming effort in which many districts do not have adequate staff or funding to support. For a curriculum to be viable, it must first and foremost align with what we are required by law to teach. Those who claim CSCOPE supports certain religions, teaches communism or capitalism clearly do not understand that the teaching of various religious and governmental influences is required by law in certain core subjects such as World History. The CSCOPE framework simply provides lessons that align with the state required curriculum, Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS). Are some lessons more controversial than others? Yes, but as a district, we get to make the decision to select the lessons CSCOPE provides, modify/adjust the lesson, or write our own lessons. However, we can’t choose not to teach those things we are required by law to teach.
This is the same rheteric given by all superintendents. One would think by now they could at least be more original. I have repeatedly given proof to the senate ed committee that CSCOPE lessons are not all aligned to the TEKS. Your superintendent is not telling you that Senator Patrick has given to school districts the responsibility of reviewing the CSCOPE lessons for accuracy.
I am not trained in legal action, but my best guess would be that if students do not pass the STAAR tests, parents will have sound ground for taking legal action against the superintendent and school board members who are responsible for purchasing CSCOPE.
I encourage all parents to be aware of what their children are being taught in school. However, being informed starts with knowing what the State of Texas legally requires. The TEKS are available on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website and also accessible through the BISD website. As far as the CSCOPE curriculum, despite the rumors, it is a web-based curriculum and any teacher with a login can show another teacher or parent the lessons just like our current curriculum.
It can’t be printed off due to copyright just like we can’t copy and print a textbook, but the designers of CSCOPE provide lesson samples and a parent portal for parents to view. We also do not share tests or other assessments, otherwise it could hinder a teacher’s ability to determine specifically what a student has mastered.
Your superintendent hasn’t been watching the senate education committee meeting on CSCOPE. YES! Parents do have the right to have printed copies of CSCOPE lessons. Check out Boots On the Ground on this website. YOu will find sections of CSCOPE lessons with errors marked. I suggest you ask your superintendent to show you some of these lessons. You can then point out the errors and that you do not want CSCOPE in your school. While you are speaking with your superintendent, ask about the school taxes that are being used to pay membership fees to private organizations, such as TASA and TASB. In all, about $30 million dollars of school taxes are paid into these two private organizations for administrators and school board members.
Like any curriculum, CSCOPE has its strengths and limitations, which is why it is necessary that districts customize the framework to meet the needs of their demographic population and community. Not all districts customize the CSCOPE framework and therefore utilize it in its raw form. This is not what we will be doing in BISD because in my professional opinion, this is poor curricular practice. We will customize and modify the framework to meet our needs as a district and transform it from a CSCOPE framework to our BISD Curriculum.
If it was not costing your school district so much money for CSCOPE, the previous statement would be funny.
The CSCOPE framework is a rigorous curriculum that will require our students to learn at a higher level and will adapt the instructional methodology of teachers.
The curriculum is grounded in developing 21st century skills, engaging students in meaningful learning experiences, and focused on developing workforce skills such as problem solving, creativity, and innovation.
In addition, the curriculum is aligned with state requirements ensuring our students are adequately prepared for state assessments.
Big Deal! CSCOPE has copied the TEKS from the State Education website and have sold them to your superintendent.
The curriculum is also vertically aligned so that the learning builds on itself year after year, reducing the opportunity for gaps in learning.
CSCOPE didn’t do this. TEA has the vertical alignment of every subject and grade listed on their website. CSCOPE has copied it and is now selling it to your superintendent and school board members.
As you can see, the strengths of the CSCOPE framework are many and its limitations are ones we can effectively customize to meet our needs.
So far the only strengths of CSCOPE are those used in the public relations material that has been given to all superintendents and school board members. They have memorized this and use it when asked why they purchased CSCOPE, a supplementary material that has never been evaluated or copy edited, except by the TxCscopeReview Team. Lesson thus far have come from teachers who anonymously reveal them. Sad, but true. But, now that CSCOPE lessons will be available without a password–or CSCOPE directors tell the senate ed. committee, the number of incorrect CSCOPE lessons will be posted.
CSCOPE is a curriculum written, developed, managed, and modified by educators in Texas.
Why would any superintendent want to purchase a product that was developed, managed, and modified by teachers in some other school?
Is there some reason that the teachers in Brazosport ISD are not equally qualified to produce comparable material?
Instead of renting CSCOPE, created by teachers, use the rent money to pay the teachers in your school to create a curriculum designed specifically for Brazosport ISD.
It is my professional opinion the best customizable curriculum framework available and the best next step for our district.
If you only need a guide–since you paid for CSCOPE this year, you already have the guide. So, there is no reason to rent CSCOPE again next year.
The piloting of the framework will officially conclude at the end of this school year and we will move forward with district-wide implementation. All campuses will eventually transition into our customized BISD Curriculum. However, for the 2013-14 school year, we are only going to add 4 additional campuses from the Clute feeder pattern.
Piloting of the framework??? Implementing?
We made this decision for a number of reasons, but primarily because we do not have the staff needed to focus on both customization of the curriculum and district-wide application. We believe customization is the most important first step. We need to make the framework “our own” and ensure it aligns with the population and community of BISD. Some of the ways in which we will customize the curriculum include the following:
Adjusting lessons to match our available technology and resources.
It is twice as hard and more time consuming to try to adjust the lessons. Much easier to write lessons that fit what you have. This is like stuffing square pegs into round holes. Your children will be the ones that suffer.
Embedding additional research-based programs that data has indicated as being effective with our students.
Differentiating for diverse learners (Gifted and Talented, English Language Learners, Special Education, Dyslexia, etc.)
Really! Differentiating often means that fewer teachers can be hired if one teacher is given the responsibility to take care of all these special needs. Ask your superintendent if separate classes will be created.
Replacing, adding or modifying lessons to align with district expectations and goals.
Now who do you think will be given this assignment to do in their spare time? Teachers of course. It it difficult to find all the errors in CSCOPE lessons. Very time consuming and then to modify them—Why not forget about CSCOPE and pay teachers to create a good product that is aligned with your school goals.
Why is your superintendent so determined to purchase CSCOPE knowing that it has to be reshaped, molded, revised, etc……. ?
We did not select to implement the curriculum at Brazoswood High School and the schools in the Lake Jackson area simply due to the large numbers of students. They will transition as soon as we are further along in the customization process. In the meantime, all schools will continue to be trained on and apply the research-based instructional techniques that are critical for student success and in which our curriculum will be designed. We are anticipating all campuses will transition by the 2014-15 school year.
So some students are going to get a better education than others? These will be the ones not exposed to the CSCOPE materials. If you really want to improve education in your school district, how about considering giving students textbooks. How would you like to take Algebra or physics without a text book? Know that CSCOPE has no resource information. So where are the kids getting their facts from? Teachers under the CSCOPE plan are not suppose to give facts–kids are suppose to discover for themselves.
Redesigning curriculum and instructional practices is never an easy process, however it is necessary in order to ensure our students are learning the skills needed for success in the 21st century. As with all organizations, there comes a time to reinvent, redesign, and reevaluate what our data indicates within our organization, it is time.
With that said, I do believe in the art of teaching and value the professional experience of our teachers. Although teachers will be expected to adhere to the curriculum, we will continue to allow them the professional freedom to adjust the curriculum as needed for their individual classrooms with the understanding that it must make the lesson more engaging, rigorous, or comprehensible and it must not negatively impact the vertical or horizontal alignment. Until we have fully embedded the curriculum, we will expect that teachers discuss their modifications with our instructional coaches for the purpose of ensuring the quality of the lesson is not lost in the modification. I believe the alignment is almost as critical as the instructional method, which is why we will also expect teachers to work collaboratively when designing their lesson approach. When alignment is not guarded, gaps in a student’s learning takes place. The more gaps in learning a student experiences, the further behind they get impacting their academic success.
Teachers are told they may make changes, but will be held responsible for the outcome. Actually, teachers are always held responsible. With CSCOPE, the superintendent and school board members are to be held responsible. Are you aware that kids in CSCOPE schools over all do not score as high on state tests? Why is your superintendent insisting on using CSCOPE?