CSCOPE changes designed to address concerns

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, February 23, 2013

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Decatur ISD announced Thursday night that it will make some changes in a curriculum tool that has drawn criticism both here and across the state.

Following a recent committee meeting in Austin regarding CSCOPE, State Senator Dan Patrick, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, worked with the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative (TESCCC) to address many of the concerns that were brought up. Those changes include:

  • Meetings of the TESCCC governing board will be open to the public.
  • The TESCCC will begin a joint review process of all CSCOPE lessons with the State Board of Education (SBOE).
  • Civil or criminal penalties will be removed from user agreements related to the release of CSCOPE material.
  • Teachers and school districts may post any and all CSCOPE lessons they wish.
  • The non-profit 501(c)3 arrangement that incorporates CSCOPE will end.
  • CSCOPE lesson content will be posted to their public website.
  • A curriculum review panel made up of parents, teachers, school administrators, members of the SBOE and TESCCC board members will be created.

DISD is among about 80 percent of school districts statewide that use CSCOPE.

“I don’t think there is anything in here that is critical as far as being detrimental. I think all of the changes will be good changes,” Superintendent Rod Townsend said at Thursday’s school board meeting.

Both the announcement by Patrick and Townsend’s comments included an emphasis that CSCOPE is not a replacement for lesson plans.

“It’s only a tool,” Townsend said. “We want to make sure teachers understand that it is there if they want to use it, but they have full control over the lessons they want to teach and any assessment they want to give. I’m not sure they always felt comfortable with that.

“We’ve really tried to go above and beyond to make sure they are comfortable with understanding that they do have complete control of that classroom in the way they deliver the instruction and how they plan lessons,” he said.

Townsend said the key item he saw from the proposed changes was the oversight by the state board of education.

“I don’t think anything we do, whether it’s finance or curriculum or anything else, I don’t think you can have too much oversight, so I see it as being a good thing,” he said.

Townsend also said a committee made up of parents, teachers, administrators and a school board member has met to discuss curriculum concerns. The group came up with a teacher survey with questions that will address curriculum and campus climate. The anonymous survey was to be given to teachers Friday afternoon.

Also, the district is addressing a concern brought up by some parents that they didn’t have the resources to help their kids at home. Townsend and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Judi Bell said steps have been taken to ensure that all of the district’s resources, including textbooks, are being used.

“The main thing we’re trying to do is utilize the resources that we do have and get more of that out in the kids’ hands and make sure they are taking them home and that we’re using those as a planning tool so that if we are sending homework home they (parents) have a resource to look back to to be able to help their kid,” Townsend said.

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