If you have lived in Texas over the last 10 months, it would have been difficult to escape the debate over the CSCOPE lesson plans. If you are involved in public education in any way, it would have been impossible.
CSCOPE is a curriculum management system aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) that was developed by a consortium of the 20 Education Service Centers (ESCs) in Texas. The system has been purchased and used by a majority of Texas school districts for many years.
Though a later development, CSCOPE also includes TEKS-aligned lesson plans. The CSCOPE lesson plans came under intense scrutiny during the recently-ended Texas legislative session because of concerns about the content of some lessons. As a result, the legislature passed two bills addressing CSCOPE:
- S.B. 1406 subjects the CSCOPE lessons to review by the State Board of Education. The bill took immediate effect.
- SB 1474 requires school districts to adopt a process that solicits teacher, school district employee and public input prior to adopting a major curriculum initiative, including a curriculum management system, such as CSCOPE.
Before the legislative session ended, the governing board of the non-profit organization formed to oversee CSCOPE voted to discontinue the CSCOPE lesson plans as of August 31, 2013. However, the lesson plans subsequently were made freely available to districts through multiple sources, including the Texas Tribune.
During the July meeting of the State Board of Education, the general counsel for the Texas Education Agency stated that since CSCOPE lessons are in the public domain and there is no law prohibiting school districts from using them, districts may use CSCOPE lessons if authorized to do so by their school boards. Consequently, the controversy over CSCOPE continues, and Senator Dan Patrick, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and Thomas Ratliff, Vice Chairman of the SBOE, will debate the use of CSCOPE in Texas public schools this Saturday, August 23, at 6:30pm. Senator Patrick has been a vocal critic of CSCOPE, while Vice Chairman Ratliff has been a strong advocate of districts’ right to use CSCOPE lessons. The debate promises to be interesting. You can follow it here: http://clients.streamingmediahosting.com/jlepe/10571.html