Thursday, August 18, 2005

Angela's National Press Club Presentation

I gave this talk at the national press club last year and wanted to make it available to folks here in the Austin community who listened to my interview on KAZI 88.7 on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. I also make mention of a recent report by the Civil Society Institute titled, NCLB Left Behind: Understanding the Growing Grassroots Rebellion Against a Controversial Law.

What motivated the national press club event, by the way, was the presidential election and the lack of attention that was being given to education at the time. Robert Borosage and the Campaign for America's Future hosted me on this day to talk to the press about my newly published book, Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas-style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth.

Locally, there is a group that has organized to address high-stakes testing AND the military recruitment of youth in the schools. It's called Educators For Change (E4C). They're encouraging folks to join.

E4C is an organization open to teachers, parents, and activists working with schools of all levels and their respective communities. We use research, analysis, and action for reform and alternatives in public education. We also collaborate with school communities in promoting awareness of issues, rights, and actions to ensure the best education for Austin students. E4C also provides a space for those willing to support each other in continuing this work.

The next E4C meeting is Thursday night, September 8, 6-8 at the Carver - we can discuss this school year's scheduling at that meeting if there are scheduling conflicts - lets discuss and rearrange this meeting time.)


National Press Club Event
September 24, 2004
Presentation by Angela Valenzuela

My purpose today is to share with you some key findings from my forthcoming book, Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas-style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press). Since the federal policy is patterned after Texas, it is important to have a research-based perspective on Texas schools.

1) The Texas accountability system, based on mandated state tests, is a hyper-standardized system that has driven down the quality and quantity of education. It crowds out other forms of learning and it is divorced from children's experience and culture (Alamillo et al. 2004; Bustos Flores and Riojas Clark 2004; Hampton 2004; McNeil 2004; Sloan 2004; Valencia and Villarreal 2004).

The accountability system creates the impression of improvement by substituting real teaching for weeks and weeks of test preparation. (Hampton 2004; McNeil 2000; 2004; McNeil and Valenzuela 2001; Sloan 2004).

The most perverse thing it does is reward principals for losing kids-- that is, principals are rewarded for getting their school scores up, even if they do it by pushing children out of school who jeopardize school ratings (McNeil 2000; 2004; McNeil and Valenzuela 2001).

This shouldn't come as a surprise to you-while test scores in Houston were rising, HISD was losing fully half of its children. (Schemo 2003)

3) There is now a growing body of evidence that shows that the test gains by Texas children on the Texas tests are false gains -- Texas kids do not do well on such national tests as the SAT and the ACT, the very tests they need to get into college. (Amrein & Berliner 2003; McNeil 2004).

4) These losses are across the board but clearly Latino and African American and rural white children have lost the most out of this system. In fact, Texas is losing nearly 25% of our Anglo children, 40% of African American students, and at least half of Latino children from our public school system. Likewise, thirteen-plus years of Texas-style accountability has done nothing-nada-to ameliorate this astounding hemorrhaging of our children from the public school system. (Balfanz & Letgers 2001; Haney 2004; McNeil 2004; U.S. Census Bureau 2004). There is recent evidence that the graduation rate in Texas is lower now than it was previously. During the 1980s, the overall rate was 65% compared to our current rate of 60% (Haney 2004; U.S. Census Bureau 2004) . Regardless of what our president says, for this to be acceptable is to participate in the soft bigotry of low expectations.

In order to understand the Texas model of accountability, one only need consider Enron. Enron, like the Texas accountability model had an on the books and an off the books accounting. On the books was the value of their stock; similarly, on the books are children's test scores which keep on going up. Off the books, were all the debts and phony businesses; similarly, off the books is our horrible dropout rate and the curriculum that we are losing-the enrichment, the field trips, all the kinds of things that make schools fun. I'm a parent as well and so I know all of this first hand.

5) “Since No Child Left Behind is modeled on the mess in Texas, Mr. President, please don't mess with America and leave millions of children across the country behind. As a nation, we must provide a high-quality public education to every child in America. Thank you.


Alamillo, L. Palmer, D. Viramontes, C. and Garcia, E. E. 2004. California's English Only Policies: An Analysis of Initial Effects. In A. Valenzuela eds., Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas-Style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth. NY: State University of New York Press.
Amrein, A. L. & Berliner, D. (2003). The Impact of High-Stakes Tests on Student Academic Performance: An Analysis of NAEP Results in States With High-Stakes Tests and ACT, SAT, and AP Test Results in States With High School Graduation Exams. Education Policy Studies Laboratory, Education Policy Research Unit, EPSL-0211-126-EPRU
Balfanz, R., & Letgers, N. 2001. How many central city high schools have a severe dropout problem, where are they located, and who attends them? Initial estimates using the Common Core of Data. Paper presented at the 2001 Achieve and the Harvard Civil Rights Project Conference on Dropout Research: Accurate Counts and Positive Interventions. Retrieved July 19, 2002 from rights/publications/dropouts/dropout/balfanz.html
Bustos Flores, B. and Clark, E. R. 2004. The Centurion: Standards and High-Stakes Testing as Gatekeepers for Bilingual Teacher Candidates in the New Century. In A. Valenzuela eds., Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas-Style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth. NY: State University of New York Press.
Hampton, E. (2004). Standardized or Sterilized? Differing Perspectives on the Effects of High Stakes Testing in West Texas. In A. Valenzuela eds., Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas-Style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth. NY: State University of New York Press.
Haney, W. 2004. Analyses of Texas Public School Enrollments and Other Data: Expert Report concerning the case of West Orange-Cove v. Alanis (version 5). Prepared at the request of Randall B. Wood and Doug Ray, Ray, Wood and Bonilla LLP.
McNeil, L. (2004). Faking Equity: High-Stakes Testing and the Education of Latino Youth. In A. Valenzuela eds., Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas-Style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth. NY: State University of New York Press.
McNeil, L. (2000). Contradictions of Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing. New York: Routledge.

McNeil, L. and A. Valenzuela. (2001). The Harmful Impact of the TAAS System of Testing in Texas: Beneath the Accountability Rhetoric. In M. Kornhaber and G. Orfield, (Eds.) Raising Standards or Raising Barriers? Inequality and High Stakes Testing in Public Education. New York: Century Foundation, 127-150.
Schemo, D. J. (2003, July 11). Questions on data cloud luster of Houston schools. New York Times, p. A1.
Sloan, K. (2004.) Playing to the Logic of the Texas Accountability System: How a Focus on “Ratings”-Not Children-Undermines Quality and Equity. In A. Valenzuela eds., Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas-Style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth. NY: State University of New York Press.
U.S. Census Bureau. (2004, June). Educational Attainment in the United States: 2003.
Valencia, R. R. & Villarreal, B. J. 2004. Texas' Second Wave of High-Stakes Testing: Anti-Social Promotion Legislation, Grade Retention, and Adverse Impact on Minorities. In A. Valenzuela eds., Leaving Children Behind: How “Texas-Style” Accountability Fails Latino Youth. NY: State University of New York Press.


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