CSCOPE Derails State Tests

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Janice–
First of all, thank you so much for this website and for all of your research.  I am an ELA teacher in a district that adopted CSCOPE just this year; we were told two days before our students started their school year that we were going to this curriculum, citing that our teacher-written scope and sequence was not up to par after a curriculum audit and that one school in the district had to make changes after not meeting annual yearly progress for 3 or 4 years in a row.

In our training, we were given a few copies of CSCOPE lessons, the highest grade level being eighth grade and a science lesson at that.  We were told that ELA would look a little different.  They were right.

On the high school level, ELA is probably the most difficult out of all of the subjects.  In our district, our high school students have classes that meet daily for 48 minutes, but we are to fit a 50-60 minute lesson into that time.

The teacher prep is ridiculous (one teacher cited spending eight hours to prepare for ONE DAY in one of the exemplar lessons), and to appease us, our campus administrators said, “Use CSCOPE as a guide.”

We all breathed a sigh of relief, until someone at the district level said, “No, you must use it all as it is written,” meaning the YAG, IFD, exemplar lessons, and unit tests.

We were given conflicting messages until over halfway through the first semester, when we were told that following the YAG, IFD, and unit tests were “non-negotiable” and that we had to follow the exemplar lessons “with fidelity”–meaning we had to follow it to the letter.

And when we’ve asked about the gaps that we’re finding in our students’ learning, we’ve been told that we need to add to the lesson to address those gaps.

We have been told to use the “backward design” method, meaning we are to compare the unit test to the IFD and the exemplar lessons to see what is covered and what isn’t.

Our trainers from other regions have told us that this is not teaching to the test; these are the same people who also told us that CSCOPE is not scripted, which anyone who HAS seen a lesson knows that is false.

These exemplar lessons consist mostly of group work, and very little time is given to reading.  The only time ELA is allowed to cover a novel is in the first grading period, and even then, we’re only given twelve days to cover it.

Students were given four days to read a play, and even then, the students were to be in groups, with a different play from a different time period being read by each group.

CSCOPE Assessments Inflated

Most of the group work cannot be truly assessed, leaving inflated daily grades.  This inflated daily average is what saves some children from failing the course, as the unit tests are ridiculous; there are usually two reading selections, and they are almost always written from the early 1900s (the most recent work I’ve seen was a speech by JFK given in 1962).

Teachers Forbidden to Help Students

The teachers on our campus were so frustrated with the difficulty of the reading passages for our students that we would take the reading selections from the unit test and go over them in class to try to help them with comprehension.  At no time did we address any of the questions on the test–we merely wanted the students to understand what the passages were about.  We have since been told that we absolutely cannot do that.

CSCOPE Derails State Tests

The sequence of the units also are detrimental to students; ninth through eleventh grade, our testing grades, must do their research project the last grading period of the year–right in the middle of EOC and TAKS testing–and the students are expected to do their research entirely outside of class.

The research topics progress from a social or cultural issue they want to research to a political issue in America to a political issue in the world to a controversial issue not covered by mainstream media.  Teachers are dealing with a lack of resources, and students will deal the frustrations of finding materials and topics (not to mention the inherent problems of researching any controversial topic).

CSCOPE Administrators Insult Teachers

CSCOPE is a nightmare; it’s detrimental to students in that they are frustrated with the difficulty of assessments after ridiculously easy classwork, it’s a nightmare and an insult to teachers as they are now no better than robots and ALL teachers’ abilities are questioned (we have been told by a district person that all teachers have to use these lessons so that we can learn what a good lesson looks like, and we have been told by a campus administrator that the students are not failing, but “we are failing”).

CSCOPE is Not Preparing Kids to Graduate

Teachers complaints are falling on deaf ears as we try to tell our administration about this, and our parents have no clue whatsoever that their children are not learning anything substantial, much less being prepared for state-mandated tests that are required for graduation.

I thank you for reading this; I’m sure that you’ve seen the same complaints from others, but I appreciate this outlet for CSCOPE teachers.  Please do not include my name with this.  Thank you once again.

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