In today’s very public arena it is easy for people to criticize and offer uninformed opinions anonymously or jump on the band wagon of people speaking out anonymously. Schools fall prey to this type of attack very often. Across the state at this time public schools are being attacked for using a particular curriculum product. San Saba ISD uses this product and it is known as CSCOPE. The count of school districts using this product in some format is at 800+ school districts and the use was growing until recent attacks on the curriculum product has slowed its growth.
The CSCOPE curriculum is a developed scope and sequence of the state Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS that are the state teaching standards approved by the State Board of Education, the legislature and the Texas Education Agency. CSCOPE provides districts with a methodical approach to teach the TEKS in an organized and sensible manner. Without CSCOPE or any curriculum product teachers would have to decide how to bundle the TEKS and in which order they should teach them, how deep they should teach them and get them taught before state assessment time. For example, a content area like 5th grade science may have 150 different TEKS to teach. Does a teacher begin with the first of the TEKS listed and teach it in isolation and then move on to the next one? San Saba ISD has for many years used a scope and sequence approach to teaching. We began trying to write our own scope and sequence and modeled it after Aldine ISD. This approach was difficult because teachers spent their summers trying to revise the curriculum and refine the curriculum as the state of Texas came out with new curriculum updates. We moved from writing our own curriculum to a product call the Margret Kilgo Scope and Sequence. Basically, this product ordered the TEKS as CSCOPE does, but did not provide staff with the depth and complexity to meet the state assessment standards. Four years ago, the ISD elected to implement the CSCOPE curriculum because it provided a meaty curriculum with many recourses that could support teachers. What about textbooks? Textbooks are not readily updated by the state and aligned with the state curriculum standards. Textbooks are still used at San Saba ISD as a resource, and teachers pull information from textbooks. However, since the textbooks are not aligned with state standards and updated to the state standards, they can no longer be the sole source of instruction.
There are many components to CSCOPE. SSISD requires teachers to use two of them: the Instructional Focus Document (IFD) and the assessments. The product also includes exemplar lessons, but these lessons are totally optional to the teachers and the teachers can use them as examples of lessons or they can use them in their classrooms if they choose. The teachers have the autonomy to determine whether they use these lessons or not. CSCOPE is just like a textbook. A teacher would never teach cover to cover from a textbook, and a teacher would never use every single piece of CSCOPE that is available. As well, just as there are questionable lessons and mistakes in textbooks, there are questionable lessons and mistakes in CSCOPE. CSCOPE provides teachers with a resource that is aligned from K – 12 in all core content areas and provides administrators with a means to monitor what is being taught in the classroom as required by the state of Texas. SSISD teachers are content specialist and they do not mindlessly follow a scripted lesson. They study, they research and they find the best approach possible to teach the state standards and they use CSCOPE as the framework to accomplish this task. With the immense pressure for students to perform well on state assessments, the teachers must have a viable curriculum that they can depend on that models the state assessment that students will be responsible to pass.
So what’s all the fuss about CSCOPE? Misinterpretations about certain lessons have been publicized as derogatory. For example, misinterpretations about how CSCOPE presents the TEKS and World Religions has been questioned. According to the leader of CSCOPE, Wade Labay, “The current social studies standards, approved by the State Board of Education (SBOE) of Texas in 2010, contain a series of expectations about the study of world religions. Below are some examples where the state has required that students are able to: World History Studies (23A)… describe the historical origins, central ideas, and spread of major religious and philosophical traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, and the development of monotheism. World Geography Studies (17A)… describe and compare patterns of culture such as language, religion, land use, education, and customs that make specific regions of the world distinctive. World Geography Studies (17B)… describe major world religions, including animism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism, and their spatial distribution.”
“The study of any world religion includes investigations and instruction about the core beliefs of that religion. Studying the characteristics of core belief systems is fundamental to understanding the history and cultures of civilization. CSCOPE content is meant to assist teachers with addressing required standards, not to promote any special interest or world religion over another. More specifically, a recent report that CSCOPE promotes “Allah is the Almighty God” is inaccurate. This is an example of how content intended to address one of the “central ideas” of Islam can be misinterpreted when taken out of context.”
Other questions have been asked of the social studies curriculum and particular lessons about the Boston Tea Party being a terrorist act. The explanation of these lessons and copies of these lessons can be found at the CSCOPE website. That website can be found at http://www.cscope.us/.
At any time we are asked, school personnel will be glad to sit down and discuss CSCOPE and San Saba ISD’s use of this product. We strive to be transparent and would like the opportunity to show parents or community members the product before it is judged unfairly. As stated earlier, our teachers are content area specialist and they do not mindlessly teach a scripted lesson. They work hard to study the standards and provide instruction in a manner that will help SSISD students be successful. Please feel free to contact any administrator and we will get you connected with a review of the CSCOPE grade level product of your choice.
Parents, let us know how we can help you the first day of school all the way until the last day of school!! Please check the website at www.san-saba.net for school information and follow us on Facebook, too! If you have any question about this article or any other question about school happenings please contact me at 325/372-3771 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .