TCTA’s Holly Eaton was invited to testify at a Jan. 31, 2013, hearing of the Senate Education Committee about teachers’ concerns with the CSCOPE curriculum management system. The hearing was called to gather information on the system that is now being used by 70 percent of Texas school districts.

Eaton told the committee that the number of complaints TCTA receives on CSCOPE has increased as more districts have adopted it. She said concerns generally fall within several broad categories:

  • the actual substance of some CSCOPE curriculum pieces, especially in certain subject areas
  • lack of corresponding instructional materials
  • burdensome requirements for detailed and scripted lesson plans

She also explained that, in addition to subject-specific programmatic concerns, TCTA members are concerned with how the program is being implemented at the local level.

“One of the main themes we have heard has to do with teachers feeling they must abandon everything they have been doing instructionally, whether successful or not, and adhere strictly to a formulaic instructional approach all the way down to, in some cases, scripted lesson plans,” Eaton told Senate Education Committee members.

She said this is happening despite CSCOPE directors repeatedly stressing to participating districts that the lesson plans are merely examples to be used as needed or to be required, when appropriate, of some struggling teachers.

“This really highlights one of the key implementation problems at the local level,” Eaton testified. “Some districts are applying a one-size-fits-all approach to all teachers with CSCOPE, when the need for a specific roadmap to follow in teaching the curriculum may only be necessary for new or struggling teachers.”

She informed the committee that TCTA’s 2013 convention delegates adopted a position that says that prior to school district adoption of major curriculum initiatives, districts should be required to provide evidence of significant teacher input, disclosure to the public of the costs, and a review of alternatives considered.

“Much of the potential difficulties that our members and various news accounts report about CSCOPE could be avoided with upfront input from teachers and the community about the best use of curriculum initiatives such as CSCOPE, as well as a review of the costs associated with that use, and alternatives considered.”

Read TCTA’s full testimony.