Lesson system garners critique
Teacher speaks against CSCOPE study
By Ann Work
Sunday, March 3, 2013
One Texas teacher has thrown off her cloak of anonymity and is speaking openly about CSCOPE because she is afraid its curriculum will be whitewashed and recycled instead of kicked out of Texas schools.
Mary Bowen, a 30-year master’s level teacher with a specialty in curriculum and instruction, recently addressed the Texas Senate Education Committee and the State Board of Education on behalf of children.
Veteran Teacher (Mary Bowen) insists that CSCOPE cannot be fixed.
She points to the rising number of failing schools tracked by the Texas Education Agency.
Since CSCOPE’s introduction in 2006 until 2011, when it directed instruction on 70 percent of Texas campuses, the number of Academically Unacceptable schools in Texas nearly doubled, growing from 267 campuses, or 3.4 percent, in 2006 to 496 campuses, or 5.8 percent, in 2011.
Bowen criticized CSCOPE for the same reasons superintendents prize it.
It’s an online curriculum, which administrators say is up-to-date and fluid.
CSCOPE is Anti-Environmental
But Bowen says it (CSCOPE) has replaced full-color, scholarly written textbooks, giving students nothing to read or refer to except the black-and-white printouts that teachers run off by the hundreds for classroom work.
“CSCOPE comes with (online) scripted lessons for the teacher,” Bowen said. “But there isn’t a chapter — no material written by a writer (for students).
According to Dr. Clyde Steelman, ESC 11, “CSCOPE is not a Student Learning System.” “CSCOPE is for teachers to use to plan their lessons.” Reference, Time Mark 00.06.22 minutes on the Lake Dallas Sound Track.
“So say you have to teach the Civil War. The teacher must go to the computer and download material (from various websites) for the children to read. … It’s not grade-level material.”
The work sheets are always the same — graphic organizers.
“No pictures. There’s a word in the center with bubbles around it (that students fill in),” Bowen said. “It’s a paper factory. Everything is on these black-and-white papers that all look the same. When CSCOPE materials are all over my desk, I can’t tell one thing from another. That’s how bland it is. You can imagine how it appears in the mind of a child.”
With a textbook, all content is written by professors of the subject and geared to the specific grade level, gradually progressing in reading complexity throughout the book.
CSCOPE executive director Anne Poplin spoke against providing text books to students in an interview with reporter Ann Work, Texas. Cscope director, Linday McCulloch, Region 6 in on YouTube explaining that Willis ISD, a CSCOPE school does not use textbooks.
Without textbooks, Bowen said, students aren’t able to access resources on their own and the only time they can learn is in the classroom with their teacher.
Today’s textbooks are packed with beautiful graphics and illustrations that her students love, she said. When Bowen pulled out a reading book this week, her students cheered. Books with picture or diaries of children from pioneer days bring excitement to subjects.
“(Students need) something that’s alive,” she said.
Administrators praise CSCOPE’s “exemplar” lessons, written by teachers, for teachers.
“I don’t want lessons written by teachers. I want lessons written by experts in their field,” Bowen said. “I don’t want lessons written by a third-grade teacher. That’s the whole problem. We’re experts in children, not in content.”
CSCOPE proponents say its lessons are especially helpful for new teachers.
But Bowen said new teachers are the ones most in need of good textbook materials to balance out their early weaknesses.
“A teacher in our building was using the CSCOPE lesson on ‘Mixtures and Solutions.’ The kids did a poster board collage, cutting pictures out of magazines, and hung it in the hallway,” she said.
But many pictures of mixtures were glued under solutions — a mistake the new teacher didn’t recognize because she had no textbook or support materials, Bowen said.
“It took all my willpower not to say, ‘Take it down,’” Bowen said. “But it’s the CSCOPE way. If the kids are moving around at all, it’s good.”
Because CSCOPE presents inaccurate information, even veteran elementary teachers might not catch without a textbook. I taught science for 27 years and have written a few dozen experiment books for kids/ Even so, I would not rely only on the CSCOPE lessons to teach science. Veteran teachers use textbooks so they have instant recall of information being taught. If students had been assigned science textbooks, they would have caught the error themselves. I know my students were always willing to let me know when I goofed. Kids now send emails about articles on my science website if they find an error. I am so thrilled, not that I made a mistake, but that a kid recognized the error.
The mixture/solution error, is that CSCOPE present doesn’t identify the types of mixtures. Instead, CSCOPE gives sugar dissolved in water as a solution and a bowl filled with apples, oranges and bananas as a mixture. A solution is an example of a homogeneous mixture (the same throughout) and the bowl of fruit is a heterogeneous mixture (not the same throughout). Yes, I reported this to CSCOPE and was told that the terms are not part of the TEKS, which confirms Mary’s statement that the TEKS are the very least a teacher can cover. Thus, CSCOPE is not rigorous as CSCOPE directors claim. The exact opposite being the truth. CSCOPE at best only covers the minimum requirements–the TEKS.
CSCOPE lessons need to be removed from schools and textbooks issued.
Teacher textbooks have the best scope and sequence and textbooks aligned with the Texas TEKS are many times better than using CSCOPE.
Parents may hope a good teacher can work around the bad lessons, but it’s impossible, she said.
See Teacher Speaks Against CSCOPE to find out how Mary Bowen gets her students to perform at higher levels. Know that Mary must do this on the sly, because the CSCOPE enforcers often pop into her classroom to make sure that she is following the “low-level-dumbing down” CSCOPE instructions.
Follow Ann Work on Twitter @AnnWork1.