The state’s regional Education Service Centers will no longer issue lesson plans – and will forbid their use after Aug. 31 – for a popular online curriculum system that became a lightning rod for conservatives who criticized it as anti-American, legislators announced Monday.
The move is expected to leave school districts across the state, including some in the greater Houston area, scrambling to replace CSCOPE, as the program is called, before the start of next school year. Districts that lack the staff or budget to design their own curriculum tend to rely on it.
The CSCOPE plans are in use at 877 districts, or 78 percent of school districts in Texas, said Kyle Wargo, the executive director of Regional Service Center 17 in Lubbock.
“Since we are a small district, we don’t have the resources to hire specialized people in that area,” said Somerset Independent School District Superintendent Saul Hinojosa, who credits CSCOPE with helping the district raise its test scores.
However, while Hinojosa claims CSCOPE helped to increase test scores, that does not necessarily mean that it helps students learn. Debates over the efficacy of standardized tests as a metric to determine how well students learn continue to rage, and in Texas, there are at least some teachers that believe that the end of CSCOPE will mean a better learning environment for their students.
KLTV.com reports that many teachers despised CSCOPE’s rigid, one-size-fits-all approach to education. After seven years of CSCOPE, those teachers are thrilled to be set free from the tyranny of the ready-made lesson plan.
Bill Martin, director of the Tyler Sylvan Learning Center, said the end of CSCOPE means teachers “get control back over their classroom again.”
“They get to use lesson plans that they feel are best suited for their class and their students in their class,” Martin told KLTV.com.
Martin added that he doesn’t know “a single teacher that likes CSCOPE. Not a single teacher.”
If reports that parent requests to see CSCOPE materials were met with demands to pay exorbitant fees were true, the end of this program should also mean a return to school districts obeying Texas laws, requiring that parents be given course information and learning materials on request. Of course, to conservatives, this means the end of students being taught to compare Boston Tea Party Activists to terrorists.