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NCLB Outrages

Author of No Child Left Behind defends its impact

Kress says the problem is not teachers teaching to the test; the problem is that they aren't doing it right.

Here's an example of why you should be suspicious of any outfit that puts 'reform' in its title.

Texas Institute for Education Reform:

Board of Directors

Darrell Gill, President, Ener-Tel Services, Inc., San Angelo

Bill Hammond, President & CEO, Texas Association of Business

Woody Hunt, Chairman and CEO, Hunt Building Corporation, El Paso

Sandy Kress, Partner, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, and Feld, LLP, Austin

Bill McMinn, Senior Advisor, The Sterling Group, Houston

David Merrill, Financial Consultant, A. G. Edwards & Sons, Brownsville

Allan Shivers, Chairman, The Shivers Group, Austin

Andy Thompson, Partner, Thompson & Murff, LLC, Fort Worth

Jim Windham, Windham Capital Advisory Services, Houston

Policy Advisory Board

Chrys Dougherty, PhD - Director of Research National Center for Education Accountability

Rick Hess, PhD - Director of Education Research American Enterprise Institute

Dianne Johnson - Past President Houston Independent School District Board of Trustees

Matt Ladner, PhD - Vice President Goldwater Institute

Don McAdams, PhD - Executive Director Center for the Reform of School Systems

Chris Patterson - Education Policy Advisor, Former Director of Research Texas Public Policy Foundation

Billy Reagan, PhD - Retired Superintendent Houston Independent School District

Sandra Stotsky, PhD - Education Research Consultant, Former Principal Research Scholar, School of Education Northeastern University

By Aaron Nelsen

Alexander “Sandy” Kress dismisses the notion that the accountability system and its primary indicator in the state, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, has not had the intended impact.

Kress, the author of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, points to 13 years of progress since the accountability system was built into the education system and a handful of other statistics to prove his point.

“If I do nothing else in Brownsville, I want to encourage you to get your sniffer attuned to fake arguments,” Kress said. “As for the TAKS, that material should be taught. It should be taught in the normal course of things, but it’s not being taught effectively.”

Speaking to business and community leaders in Brownsville on Thursday, Kress spoke proudly of achievements under the accountability system, including increasing high school completion rates and improved test scores, but he also said there is a lot of work ahead.

Since 1992, Texas students have improved fourth-grade reading scores by 5 percent with the biggest gains being made by Hispanics, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Hispanics improved from 11 percent at or above proficiency in 1992 to 19 percent in 2005.

There have also been major strides in the fourth-grade math assessment with Hispanics tripling the percentage of students at or above proficiency since 1992. Hispanics improved from 7 percent in 1992 to 28 percent in 2005.

Kress represents the Texas Institute for Education Reform, a nonprofit collaboration of Texas business leaders working to improve the high school completion rate in the state. That, however, is the good news, Kress said.

Gains have been mostly at the elementary school level, and Hispanic and black students continue to lag two years behind white students, according to the NCES.

Eighth-grade reading proficiency in the state is below the national average, and 52 percent of high school graduates require remedial courses for college, according to information provided by TIER.

Kress said that if these indicators do not improve, the United States will lose its economic position in the world to emerging powers in China, India and Russia.

With that in mind, TIER has a mission to prepare Texas children for higher education and the workplace.

To accomplish that goal, Kress highlighted four objectives that TIER deems necessary to accomplish those goals, including raising standards, increased teacher effectiveness, rewards for highly effective teachers and strengthening the accountability system.

“The thing I would love to see Brownsville do is form a pact that says every child on grade level every year with this goal at the end of the line,” Kress said. “Whatever city commits that and does it wins, and it’s children wins.”[sic]


Measuring Success

The following is the percentage of fourth-grade students performing at or above proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and math tests for 1992 and 2005.


Nation: 27 percent
Texas: 24 percent

Nation: 30 percent
Texas: 29 percent


Nation: 17 percent
Texas: 15 percent

Nation: 35 percent
Texas: 40 percent

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

— Aaron Nelsen
The Brownsville Herald


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