CSCOPE system takes guess work out of creating curriculum for teachers

POSTED: Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 3:51pm
UPDATED: Friday, January 18, 2013 - 10:27am

LORENA -- It's been a year of preparation as the never before seen STAAR test hits students desks once again Thursday.

But an online curriculum management system called CSCOPE that began in 2006, is helping take the guess work out of what to teach to meet the new state requirements.

"I think the biggest benefit of CSCOPE is providing the specifics in the curriculum. [The state] didn't tell us very often to what level students were to develop a skill, and now [CSCOPE] tells us very specifically that information," Cheri Borchardt, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Lorena ISD and former teacher said.

CSCOPE gives teachers the framework of what to teach, when to teach it and how long to work on the subject. And while all students learn differently and at varied speeds, Borchardt says teachers are still able to individualize the lessons to meet the students needs.

"The beauty of CSCOPE is that the teacher's not taken out of the loop. teachers know best what their students need and so we leave it to their discretion to choose lessons and materials that are most appropriate to meet each students needs in the class."

"We are not bound to it by any means, but because there's such good things in the lessons, that we really think it's been a great tool for us to use and to pull from," Lorena 3rd grade teacher, Laura Cresson said.  

Students take assessments throughout each 6 week time period. Which Cresson says has prepared them for the STAAR tests this year.

"We found that the assessments were our best tool this year for finding something that looked most like STAAR," Borchardt said.

"They really have prepared our kids for the STAAR test. The questions are high level, they have to think critically and problem solve," Cresson said.

The system gives teachers a "Year at a Glance" schedule that has subjects to follow each day to ensure all TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) are covered. So staying on the course isn't always easy.

"The time frame's hard, but it kind of keeps on track as well, we cover more material that way," Cresson said.

So far, it's effective.

"I really didn't think it would be that hard, because it's like what we practiced for," 3rd grader, Ava Sanders said.  
 

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CSCOPE is too demanding of the students and teachers. It doesn't correlate with any state required curriculum that we also have to implement. The lessons are repeated. The creators also expect the teachers to provide lessons when they should be providing the lessons for us.

BUT after 4 years of implementation across our district, our STAAR scores are not up to par. Teachers have gone to CScope trainings and used the curriculum as provided. There is VERY LITTLE time to enrich with a teacher's own curricula or for reteaching. The emphasis is on the YAG and adhering to the calendar to "get to the end" of the unit. Also, our BIOLOGY units are taught out of sequence which left Ecology as unit 12, to be introduced AFTER STAAR/EOC and Ecology is a tested objective.

CSCOPE has been a grea tool. CSCOPE provides the specificity that is missing in the state standards between the different grade levels. Recognizing that the teacher is still the professional when it comes to utilizing the lessons has worked well in our district. Teacher conversations are about curriculum, improving learning and increasing student engagement. Our students are definitely up to the challenge of the rigors the CSCOPE curriculum provides.

Cscope teaches Islam and verses of the Quran to students. There is no oversight over the curriculum. The Texas State Board of Education has no oversight over it's content. The curriculum appears to be a state curriculum due to the Education Service Centers creating the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative which owns Cscope. Where is all the money going? Why isn't parents can not review the curriculum. This whole curriculum and how it was put together is wrong.

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