A Superintendent Writes… Texas “Sort of” Forced the Adoption of CSCOPE

A LYS Superintendent sent in the following:

SC, 

Today I was asked a question regarding CSCOPE, textbooks, and TEKS.  Here was my response.

First, state adopted text books “sort of” don’t exist anymore. Which is to say there are state adopted textbooks, but districts are longer limited to using just them.  The old EMAT system and textbook exchange mechanism seems to be on the way out.  That changed in 2011 with the advent of IMA (Instructional Materials Allotment).  Now districts get a flat amount for instructional materials and can use that money as they please… sort of.  The board has to certify that the money will be used to purchase materials that satisfy the TEKS, and you spend the money first and THEN you send in a reimbursement request to TEA who then decides if they will give you money or not.   

Needless to say the guidelines for IMA money have been developed on the fly (TEA is making up the rules as they go) and the process has not been simple. So, the idea of “state adopted textbooks” has very little meaning anymore, even though I would not go as far as to call the term meaningless.  More on textbooks in a moment.

CSCOPE contains content, but that was not the original intent or design.  CSCOPE started life as a scope and sequence of the tested curriculum built around the TEKS.  The TEKS offer the scope of a curriculum with no sequence; therefore the TEKS cannot be considered a curriculum.  To confuse matters, the State Board of Education determines the TEKS, however TEA determines which TEKS are tested.  Needless to say the prescribed TEKS and the tested TEKS are not the same.  There is much criticism, including some criticism from the State Board of Education (yes, that is a circular statement), that the prescribed TEKS are too many and too broad, which is likely true.  This is probably why TEA trims the prescribed TEKS down to a set of tested TEKS, but I don’t know that for a fact.  CSCOPE came in to provide a curriculum aligned to the tested TEKS because as the tests got harder and harder and the passing standards got higher and higher, it became obvious that blindly teaching the overly broad prescribed TEKS without a scope and sequence was counterproductive, and in fact harmful.  

CSCOPE content came in because it soon became clear that once a curriculum was prescribed, many teachers had no idea how to design lessons that were at the rigor and relevance demanded by the curriculum.  The vast majority of teachers thought rigor was piling on more work, which was not what was needed.  Example lessons were then added to CSCOPE, and they were meant to be just that, examples.  But some district and school leaders with no background in curriculum or instruction demanded that CSCOPE lessons be taught with 100% fidelity.  Of course some teachers resented this and pushed back. Then add to that, not every CSCOPE lesson is great, and some are downright bad.  As is the case in every instructional resource I have reviewed and/or used.    Now, back to textbooks.  Textbooks theoretically taught the TEKS, and one could make the loose argument that a textbook even provides a scope and sequence and hence is a “curriculum.”  I don’t buy that argument, but I see how it can be made.  However, blind allegiance to the textbook leads to another problem.  The prescribed TEKS and the tested TEKS change frequently, yet textbooks were sometimes in adoption for a decade before being updated.  How many times were the state approved textbooks supposed to updated, but when the time came to do so the State found no money, so everyone continued to use what they had?  This led to teachers using textbooks aligned to a set of TEKS (prescribed and tested) that in some instances no longer existed.  I know for a fact at one point we were several years into TAKS still using state approved textbooks in math and science that were aligned to TAAS!  Something had to give.  A tool was needed that was cheap, aligned, and fluid enough to stay up with the decisions of the state board of education, the legislature, and TEA.  Textbooks became part of the problem.  CSCOPE became the solution.  Although not a perfect solution, it is a much better solution that the old “state approved textbook” model, and it solves the problems of cost, alignment, and fluidity.    As to your question, “Where do I get more information?”

That is the best question of all.  Part of the problem is there is no centralized location to get the facts.  Some of us know the facts because we live it.  But to help, here are some links:

 https://leadyourschool.com/2013/02/the-superintendents-corner-c-scope/

 https://leadyourschool.com/2013/02/it-seems-that-cscope-is-root-of-a/

 https://leadyourschool.com/2013/02/it-seems-that-cscope-is-root-of-all_13/

 https://leadyourschool.com/2013/02/it-seems-that-cscope-is-root-of-all_14/

 https://leadyourschool.com/2013/02/it-seems-that-cscope-is-root-of-all_15/

From the State Board of Education:

 http://www.texasisd.com/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=33&num=132994

 http://www.texasisd.com/article_135183.shtml

SC Response CSCOPE is a direct result of the “Law of Unintended Consequences.”  When amateurs and idiots introduce agenda driven mandates and rules into a system, the system will respond.  The interesting thing is that in the face of these rules and mandates that were designed to prove a failed system, educators continued to work to serve students and follow the rules.  That’s who we are.  CSCOPE was built to help teachers teach and keep pace with accountability.  And the crazy thing is that it actually is a decent tool.  But remember the agenda of many of those in our legislature is to prove that public education has failed.  So the response to continued success is to starve the beast, ratchet up the accountability and attack the tools of success.

Yet we keep voting for the same people year after year.  For all of our smarts…    Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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A Reader Asks… CSCOPE is the Root of All Evil (Part 3:1)
A Reader Writes… CSCOPE is the Root of All Evil (Part 4:1)

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