Saturday, March 30, 2019

Members of the UT community say obtaining Hispanic-Serving Institution status would benefit students and the University

Glad to see that UT is focusing on Hispanic/Latinx equity at the moment.  We need to absolutely focus on recruiting more faculty of color so that we can account for all the faculty we have lost in recent years due to faculty retirements, tenure denials, and faculty departure.  Plus, the presence of more such faculty will contribute to Hispanic/Latinx student recruitment and retention.  HSI status would help enormously in these directions.

-Angela Valenzuela

Members of the UT community say obtaining Hispanic-Serving Institution status would benefit students and the University

Photo Credit: Eilish O'Sullivan | Daily Texan Staff

This school year, the Council for Racial and Ethnic Equity and Diversity — which advises the Provost on how to recruit and retain diverse faculty — is focusing on studying the status of Hispanics at UT and is looking into the possibility of UT becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution. 
Hispanic-Serving Institutions are higher education institutions where at least 25 percent of the undergraduate students are Hispanic. They are eligible to apply for federal grants through the federal Title V program. 
Deborah Parra-Medina, director of the Latino Research Institute, said the institution committee was created under the University’s diversity council this year. The committee includes admissions faculty, faculty from other departments and alumni, among others.
Parra-Medina said in 2018, the number of undergraduate Hispanic students at UT was 21 percent, which makes UT an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution. In order to increase the Latino enrollment rate, she said there needs to be work done with admissions outreach and trying to retain students.
She also said a concerning number of minority students such as Hispanics, African-Americans and first-generation students are not graduating within six years, and one reason could be because these students don’t feel like they fit in. 
“I think (by) increasing diversity, students maybe will feel less socially isolated in the environment,” Parra-Medina said. “The (Hispanic-Serving Institution) status will allow us to then access resources that we can bring in to help support students and their success.”

Jorge Haynes is a UT alumni and has worked for Hispanic-Serving Institutions in the California State University System for 14 years. He said he supports the idea of UT gaining Hispanic-Serving Institution status.
“It would be a huge thing for the University of Texas to achieve Hispanic-Serving Institution status, and they would be such a strong voice within the (Hispanic-Serving Institution) community,” Haynes said.
He said some people might think that by becoming a Hispanic-Serving Insitution, the University would be lowering its standards.
“None of this is about lowering standards,” Haynes said. “It’s merely about doing a better job of recruiting the largest consumer base that you have in the state of Texas.”
Haynes said there are few tier one research universities in the country that are Hispanic-Serving Institutions. According to Best Value Schools, there are only three in the United States.
“I think that having a Hispanic-Serving Institution that’s also a tier one research-intensive university would send a signal that you can still be superior and have diversity at the same time,” Parra-Medina said. “One does not compromise the other.”
Casilda Clarich, network chair of the Hispanic Texas Exes Alumni Network, said she also supports the idea of UT receiving Hispanic-Serving Instution status because it would benefit students. 
“I’m excited about the possibility of what it can offer our students in the areas of retention, graduation (and) acclamation,” Clarich said. 
Parra-Medina said UT is preparing the next generation of leaders, which includes Latinos. 
“As the state and country are becoming more diverse we need to prepare the leaders of tomorrow,” Parra-Medina said. “We need those leaders to represent and reflect the population, and more and more we’re going to need Latinos to be in those positions.”

We need more teachers of color, so why do we use tests that keep them out of the classroom?

I agree.  We need to move away from teacher testing according to standardized tests required for licensure when yes, they are culturally biased, gatekeepers.  

"Critics may say that moving away from these exams would dumb down the profession. But the research suggests that if less emphasis were placed on teacher license exams, more teachers of color could enter America’s classrooms and still do an effective job – regardless of what the exam might suggest."

Read on.

Angela Valenzuela

Students of color seldom see teachers who look like them. This is because many aspiring teachers of color are pushed out of the profession before they have a chance to start. It’s not poor performance in college courses or teaching internships that take the biggest toll. It is the standardized tests aspiring teachers must pass to earn a teaching license.
Critics say these exams cover too narrow a slice of professional knowledge. They may also function as a culturally biased gatekeeper to the profession.
recent report estimates that each year, the exam screens out approximately 8,600 of 16,900 aspiring teachers of color. This rate of exclusion surpasses that of white aspiring teachers by 27.5 percent. It’s not a new phenomenon, either. The trend goes back to the 1960s when states began to adopt these exams to improve the quality of teachers.
In researching my book, “Navigating Teacher Licensure Exams,” I found that aspiring teachers of color who failed their licensure exam multiple times eventually passed once they learned certain time-saving test-taking strategies, such as estimating answers instead of working out problems. They also passed by taking the exam in settings where they felt less stressed, cutting themselves off from negative messages about the exam, and concentrating on narrow slices of material that they did not know well. But I’d argue that what they did to pass the exam has little to do with what makes an effective teacher, raising questions about how useful the exams are in the first place.

What exams reveal

Defenders of teacher licensure exams argue that they measure skills important to teaching and are “not simply a bureaucratic hurdle.” But except in the case of math teachers, teacher licensure exams have been shown to be a murky indicator of how effective an aspiring teacher will be, research has shown. This is particularly true when it comes to figuring out how good a teacher will be at teaching children how to read.
More troubling, research has shown that requiring higher scores would keep out substantial numbers of people who would otherwise be effective, but only screen out only a fraction of a percent of those who would be ineffective.
There are also problems with the exams when it comes to racial diversity. First, the accuracy of these exams can change depending on the race and gender of the test-taker and the kinds of questions asked. For example, on some exams, multiple choice questions seem to be better predictors of teacher quality for white women teachers. Conversely, essay questions appear better for African-American teachers.
Second, other factors can easily make up for a weakness that a licensure exam picks up on. For instance, racial match matters for students of color. Research has shown that for students of color, having a black teacher – despite that teacher’s poor performance on a licensure exam – can make an equivalent impact on reading and math scores as having a white teacher who performed well on the exam.

Breaking the test addiction

Why do state systems of education lean so confidently on these exams? A deep and abiding addiction to them.
When modern standardized tests developed in the 1920s, they were a brand new technology with much allure. They promised to sort large groups of people into neat categories so the military, immigration system and schools could make easy decisions. They gave the broader public a false sense of security, that somehow everyone has an equal chance to demonstrate intelligence. The origin of these exams, however, goes directly through the eugenics movement, a racist pseudoscience that sorts humans into crude subgroups.
Just as a growing number of colleges no longer require college entrance exams for students to be admitted, states could similarly rethink the ways they admit teachers to the profession. For instance, states could consider a range of alternatives, such as teaching demonstrations and community-based evaluations.

Dumbing down the profession?

Critics may say that moving away from these exams would dumb down the profession. But the research suggests that if less emphasis were placed on teacher license exams, more teachers of color could enter America’s classrooms and still do an effective job – regardless of what the exam might suggest.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Bill Aims To Expand Teacher Workforce Program To High School Students—Pls Make Calls

Our Monday press conference on our Grow Your Own Educator bill went really well.  Many thanks to Steffi Lee of KXAN for covering it.  

Friends, I urge you to place a quick call to whoever represents you in support of House Bill 3893 and companion Senate Bill 2425 so that we can get a hearing.

House Bill 3893 has gotten referred to the Higher Education Committee in the House. Calls to Chair Chris Turner at (512) 463-0574 would also be most helpful.  

On the Senate side, Senate Bill 2425  got referred to the Senate Committee on Higher Education.  Calls to Chair Brandon Creighton at (512) 463-0104 would be very helpful.

Again, ask for the bill to get heard and let's get these bills moving!


-Angela Valenzuela

Bill aims to expand teacher workforce program to high school students

Dr. Angela Valenzuela, director of the Texas Center for Education Policy, speaks at the Texas State Capitol. ( Steffi Lee/ Nexstar  Broadcasting)

Continue reading here.