Studying CSCOPE Part 1

CSCOPE is a controversial curriculum system that is sweeping into more and more Texas Schools. It's been in many of our Region 16 schools for more than seven years. But what is it? Why the controversy? In part one of a Pronews 7 three-part special report, "Studying CSCOPE", we answer those questions for you.

To understand CSCOPE, is to untangle a web of information. How many people even know what CSCOPE is? I found, not many. But if you're a parent, you need to hear what it's all about, what the school districts that are using it think, and what those who oppose it are saying.

First, what is CSCOPE? It's a customizable, online curriculum management system aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS. CSCOPE helps schools meet the standards that are required for the state's TEKS and STAAR tests. It does that by using guided lesson plans and material for subjects and grade levels so all teachers know what to cover by when to meet those standards. David Barton has been part of that process.

"I was part and have been part of the last two cycles of creating TEKS and so from that CSCOPE said alright lets take that and get it put into the classroom," said Barton.

Region 16 Executive Director John Bass says, that's when Panhandle school officials came to his office for help.

"Districts came to us and said to us we need some type of management system. The standards are written very broadly in Texas and you might have the same standards for multiple grade levels. Well, at what grade level do you have to teach that then to say the 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade in order to be prepared to pass the appropriate STAAR test, so they needed a scoping sequence," said Bass.

"One of the main components of CSCOPE is the scoping sequence which helps us all stay on a set path so we know what we're going to have all our materials covered within a year. CSCOPE helps us be able to see the ones that are going to be the important for us to focus on because they help build up the knowledge that we want our kids to have has they progress through different subject matters," said Highland Park ISD Coordinator of Curriculum, Jill Swann.

47 school districts in Region 16 use CSCOPE in some form or fashion. Canyon and Highland Park ISD are some of those.

"It takes all of the state standards and bundles those standards into units of study. And it also clarifies those state standards so teachers really understand exactly what it is they should be teaching at each level and to what depth," CISD Executive Director of Curriculum, Justin Richardson.

The 2006-2007 school year was the first year CSCOPE was implemented, and when CISD started using it. Be there's controversy surrounding its lesson plans and how teachers are using them, as well as parent's accessibility to those lessons. Because unlike textbooks, CSCOPE did not have reviewers looking at those lessons details until a Texas Senate Education Committee had a hearing in April.

"They rolled it our prematurely not thinking about the backlash it would have if they had mistakes. When those mistakes were made they promptly pulled them down," said Barton.

What exactly are those mistakes, or significant issues that have state leaders, educators, and parents up-in-arms? Monday night at 10:00 p.m. Pronews 7's Lindsey Stiner separates the facts from the misconceptions.