Most-Clicked: Texas Accountability Feeds Dropout Rate


In last week’s most-clicked ASCD Smartbrief news story:

A study by Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin shows that Texas’s public school accountability system, the model for the national No Child Left Behind Act, directly contributes to lower graduation rates. Higher dropout rates among African American and Latino students simulated a shrinking achievement gap in Texas schools–meanwhile, overall graduation rates were a dismal 33 percent. Over the long term, the study claims potential increased for educators to view students as liabilities or assets to school funding and job security and not as children to educate.

Texas public school officials have not yet responded to this damning study; let them know what you think, here.


  1. Unfortunately, the appalling misrepresentation by Texas school administrators and state officials to the disgraceful listing of dropouts continues. What a shame. It apears the 60 Minutes broadcast back in 2002 on the so-called Texas Miracle has done little from keeping school officials from mentally abusing both African-Americans and Latino students. Back in 2002, when the Texas Miracle first aired the dropout rate was estimated at 40 to 50 percent – now it is 33%. Playing with numbers hardly solves the problem.
    If Texas is still trying to hold low-achieving students back so they don’t have to take the state assessments a state and federal investigation needs to occur. I think Richard Kimble, the assistant principal at Sharpstown High School in Houston, Texas was the first person to bring this absurd practice to light. He called it “addition by subtraction.” You raise your test scores by preventing poor students from ever taking the test. You have to admit this philosophy worked and was formulated by Rod Page (former superintendent in Houston and later Secretary of Education).
    The testing craze brought on by NCLB is out of control. You don’t gain accountability by producing robots who can answer questions but have little ability to apply or even understand the content. President Bush created this monster. In some ways NCLB is like President Bush’s push to convince the American people there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We all know he didn’t find any, because none existed in the first place. What Americans were not told, were the weapons of mass destructive could be found right here in the United States and he called it NCLB. As a result our kids and teachers have been victimized and suffering every since.
    Several years ago there was a great documentary produced by Frontline for public television titled “Testing in Our Schools.” I would highly recommend school officials and all educators across the country to purchase this video and watch it – carefully. I would recommend all school officials then begin an immediate staff development program to understand measurement and testing. How ironic can it be that a profession gives so much power to a form of accountability they don’t even understand.
    Here is a sad statistic – of all the degreed educators across this country (does not matter if you are teacher, superintendent, college professor,or building principals) less than 1% understand testing or measurement. You might be asking what research do I have to support this claim – officially NOTHING. But whereever I go to speak with educators about this topic, I ask one very important question – What the does the standard error of measurement mean regarding testing? When you look at the question, you would think any educator should at least figure out the word “error” has something to do with problems with the test itself; whether it be reliability or validity. When you ask this question in a room filled with 250 educators and only have a handful of people put their hand up, this has to tell you something.
    Texas – what you are doing is sick, abusive, and absolutely crushing to kids. Madness out of control at the expense of kids and teachers – you should be proud of what you are doing!!!
    Karl R. Krawitz Ed.D
    Associate Professor of Education
    Baker University
    913-491-4432 – Ext. 1224

  2. It is nice to see that others across this nation are also concerned about what these tougher accountability measures are doing to our students and staff. I loved the point about turning our students into robots! I have to constantly tell my students to think, stop being so robotic, and figure it out. We are developing kids who have better memorization skills yet very little problem solving or higher level thinking skills.
    I would also like to see the numbers on the attrition rate of new teachers because of No Child Left Behind and tougher accountibility measures for teachers and schools. Not only are our students dropping out, some of our brightest teachers are too.
    Matt Renn
    Math Teacher

  3. I don’t find it surprising that the desires of politicians have not produced the same results in the classroom that were originally promised. Evaluating students on standardized exams is one thing, but as teachers begin to realize that they too are being evaluated, poor performing students do become a liability. It is no great surprise that these students are indeed “left behind”, only to eventually drop out. While this hurts graduation rates, it eliminates the poor performers, making teachers look more successful. If the politicians behind this type of legislation had the opportunity to spend some time in a classroom where standardized assessment is the focus, they would regognize that these results are a product of teaching in a standardized environment.
    Dan Henry
    Science Teacher

  4. I suppose, in the end, I am left with the sage comments of Dr. Steve Murdock, Texas’ former state demographer, who at the risk of being impolitic, flatly told the state legislature’s Senate and House Committees on Education, that unless they start spending more money on the growing proportion of students who are most at risk of failing, Texas will face dire economic implications (and as Texas goes, so goes the rest of the nation).
    The reality is educating at risk students costs money—and unfortunately, under the current funding mechanisms, the wealthier school districts don’t want to participate in funding the less-well off ones….its a political football. Intransigence is the word that best describes it….period.

  5. About 8 or 9 years ago, TN was looking at the U.S. History tests that TX used for students to take in order to graduate. I had one of the tests from TX and was appalled at it. The questions were ridiculously simple and only tested memorization. The test was dummied down for more students to pass. Unfortunately, as shown, it didn’t help because it still doesn’t give a clear picture of a students progress. I too am scared to death that we are raising up a generation of “robot” thinking students with little to no ability to think on their own. How will they run the stock market? How will they become CEO’s of corporations? How will they develop new innovations and complete groundbreaking research? Can a test determine that?


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