South Texas Schools After NCLB: A Status Report

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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
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , , , , , , , , , South Texas Schools after NCLB


Dr. Maria Elena Reyes

Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, The University of Texas Pan American
Edinburg, TX, USA

Dr. Maria Elena Reyes is a third generation, Mexican American who was born in Eagle Pass, Texas, located along the Texas-Mexico border. She was raised in San Antonio and attended public schools. As a first generation college graduate, Maria attended the University of Texas at Austin. As a student, she participated in the Civil Rights and Anti-War Movements. She worked to unionize Mexican American agricultural workers in the Rio Grande Valley. Maria was a homemaker, and for almost ten years, worked as a high school English teacher. Later, she earned a master’s degree in secondary education; in 1991, she obtained a doctorate at the University of Texas in Austin. After obtaining her doctorate, Maria developed the highly regarded University of Texas at Austin Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program. She went to the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in summer of 1996. In 2003, Maria became the first Latina to be tenured at UAF; in 2006, she became a founding board member of the BoysProject [see http://www.boysproject.net/]. In summer of 2006, Dr. Reyes accepted a position at the University of Texas Pan American where she plans to continue her research.

Ref: L08P0612