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Texas Online Curriculum System CSCOPE to Undergo Changes

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In an effort led by Texas Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative (TESCCC) and the State Board of Education (SBOE) agreed to make major changes to the Texas CSCOPE curriculum system. Tweet the news:

The changes come after years of controversy and criticism over CSCOPE, an online curriculum system for grades K-12. Complaints came mostly from teachers over criminal penalties they could receive for the release of lesson plans, the rigid timetables for delivering the lessons, the requirement to read from the curriculum verbatim, and the effectiveness of what is being taught in the classroom.

Supporters of CSCOPE have, in response, pointed out that the curriculum was originally meant to be used as only a supplementary tool for educators to teach students.

Critics also complain of what they perceive as an anti-American and pro-Islamic bias to the lesson plans. They cite a 6th grade U.S. History lesson that they argue refers to members of the Boston Tea Party as terrorists. However, CSCOPE has responded to these allegations:

In no way does the content of the activity in question mean that the TESCCC believes the Boston Tea Party to be an act of terrorism. CSCOPE lessons do involve critical thinking and an understanding of perspective, but they do not promote any special interest or “agenda.”

In response to charges of pro-Islamic bias, they wrote:

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.

[Copy of the lesson plans can be found here and here.]

The quality changes involve increasing transparency. The TESCCC would conduct a joint review process of all CSCOPE lessons with the SBOE. Civil or criminal penalties associated with teachers releasing lesson plans would be removed and school districts would be allowed to decide whether to post any or all CSCOPE lessons. Share the news:

The structural changes include ending the non-profit 501(c)3 arrangement for CSCOPE, the posting of CSCOPE lesson plans on the website, and the creation of a curriculum review panel. The panel will be comprised of parents, teachers, school administrators, members of the SBOE, and TESCCC board members.

CSCOPE would also notify all participating school districts that lessons are not to be taught verbatim. The Governing Board recommended that local districts use CSCOPE lessons as a resource.

“We look forward to working with the State Board of Education,” said Mason Moses, Public Information and Government Relation Officer of the TESCCC.

CSCOPE was created in the 2005-2006 school year by the TESCCC and implemented in the 2006-2007 school year. The system was implemented by public entities known as education centers, which provide training and support for teachers statewide.

The purpose of CSCOPE was to provide a common structure and process for curriculum delivery, based on the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skill test, also known as TEKS.