South Texas Schools After NCLB: A Status Report
Many education researchers believe that Texas’ enviable educational accountability system served as the model for the landmark No Child Left Behind (NCLB) education legislation that was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2001, which impacts millions of K-12 children in the U.S. (Watt, Powell, Mendiola, & Cossio, 2006). This presentation will briefly revisit the modern history of educational accountability in Texas and will speculate on the results of this legislation and its impact to K-12 students in South Texas, where the majority of students are of Latino, primarily Mexican, origin. According to the presenter’s assessment, what is working are that academic gains being made as indicated by NAEP scores in the basic areas tested, a notable accomplishment considering the ethnicity and socioeconomic status of students in Texas public schools. However, NCLB appears to be unpopular legislation among many K-12 teachers and university faculty in Texas. In addition, some middle-class parents sometimes criticize legislation that essentially diverts resources and attention away from their children. The laudable educational accountability history of the state is not widely known, and the educational successes in the state’s history are not widely celebrated. School administrators, perhaps fearing loss of their jobs, put undue pressure on classroom teachers to improve students’ performance on state tests, and it appears that teachers pass on this pressure to their students. It is not uncommon for elementary students to become physically sick the days surrounding testing days. More and better research is needed to more carefully assess the implementation of this legislation at the school level and better training on all facets of student assessment for administrators and teachers is recommended.
Keywords: Equity, K-12 Testing in U.S. Schools, Latinos and Education, NCLB, Accountability
Dr. Maria Elena Reyes
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, The University of Texas Pan American