Education Policy

Accountability that Doesn’t Hurt Children

Accountability that Doesn’t Hurt Children

We must make sure our schools are doing a good job with all of our students. But it is not necessary to test all students in order to hold schools accountable for producing good results. For example, when the state tests lakes and rivers for water quality, it does not test all the water in them. Researchers get samples from each body of water to indicate the quality of the whole system. We could measure the performance of our schools by the same method – testing a sample of students in each school.

We have seen too many give in to the temptation to use students’ scores on a single state test to make high-stakes decisions about whether they should be promoted or held back, or whether those who are otherwise eligible to graduate from high school will actually receive a diploma.

IDRA Policy Issues in 2015 for Texas
Much is at stake as the Texas Legislature convenes in Austin this January through June 2015. IDRA’s stands regarding accountability that doesn’t hurt children are:

  • The state should collect some assessment data to enable it to hold schools accountable for student achievement with data disaggregated by major sub-groups.
  • School accountability should be achieved by sample testing, saving millions of dollars in state funds and simultaneously eliminating misuse of tests for such dysfunctional practices as in-grade retention or denial of diplomas.
  • No single measure should be used to make high-stakes decisions, including promotion or graduation, involving any student.

Find out why and see more on IDRA’s other policy issues for this session in Texas.

A more comprehensive and accurate picture of how a school is doing would consider governance efficacy, appropriate resources, parent and family engagement, student engagement, teaching quality and access to quality curriculum. IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework guides communities and schools in identifying weak areas and strengthening public schools’ capacities to graduate and prepare all students for success. IDRA’s new book, Courage to Connect – A Quality Schools Action Framework™ shows how communities and schools can work together to be successful with all of their students. The book’s web page ( provides a table of contents, excerpt, related podcasts and other resources.

In addition, IDRA’s OurSchool data portal provides actionable knowledge to help educators and community members find out how well their high school campus is preparing and graduating students, what factors may be weakening school holding power, and what they can do together to address them.

“The bottom line is: schools are responsible for the education of children – for all children, be they Black, Brown, White, poor, rich, female, male, disabled, non-disabled, English-speaking or not,” said Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA president


A Post Session Assessment of Texas Education Policy Changes Considered, Adopted and Rejected in 2013,by Dr. Albert Cortez , IDRA Newsletter, August 2013

Assuring Civil Rights Protection with State ESEA Flexibility Waivers, by Bradley Scott, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, May 2013

Failing Our Children – Finding Alternatives to In-Grade Retention, publication, by Pam McCollum, Ph.D., Albert Cortez, Ph.D., Oanh H. Maroney, M.A., and Felix Montes, Ph.D.
Presents an in-depth look at the issue of in-grade retention (particularly in Texas), reviews research that finds this practice to be ineffective, and outlines alternatives to both retention and social promotion. Available from IDRA for $7 or free online.

Texas : Turning its Back on the Future – An Assessment of Major Education Policy Reforms Considered by the 82nd TexasLegislature, by Albert Cortez, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, August 2011

School and Community Capacity Building for Collaboration, by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA Newsletter, February 2011

Accountability that Doesn’t Hurt Students, by Albert Cortez, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, November-December 2010

At a Time When We Most Need Strength, Texas Education is At-Risk of Being Weakened, statement by Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO, June-July 2010

All Students Deserve a Chance – Don’t Take it Away, by Rogelio López del Bosque, Ed.D., IDRA Newsletter, June-July 2010

TexasAccountability – A Fast Track for Some; A Dead End for Others, by Josie Danini Cortez, M.A., IDRA Newsletter, February 2010

School Attrition Rates and Title I School Accountability to Families – Necessary Information, by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA Newsletter, October 2010

TexasPolicymakers Live Up to Their Own Low Expectations – A Post Legislative Session Assessment of Changes Proposed and Reforms Adopted in 2009, by Albert Cortez , Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, September 2009

The Role of School Governance Efficacy in Building an Equity Context for School Reform, by Bradley Scott, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, June-July 2009

Federal Judge Rules That Texas’ Services for its LEP Students Are Inadequate, by Albert Cortez, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, February 2009

All Texas Students Must be Accounted for Holding On to Students Usually Requires Systemwide Transformations Rather than Piecemeal Programs, IDRA statement, August 1, 2008

Uncompromising Expectations for Graduating All Students – IDRA Principles Regarding Graduation and Accountability, Albert Cortez, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, November-December 2007

Graduation for All Students – Dropout Prevention and Student Engagement Strategies and the Reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, IDRA statement, April 23, 2007
Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA executive director, presented testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor, U.S. House of Representatives, in Washington, D.C., in a hearing on “NCLB: Preventing Dropouts and Enhancing School Safety.”
Read five-minute verbal testimony
Read written testimony
View archived webcast at the committee’s web site

Accountability and Equity in our Schools, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed. , IDRA Newsletter, February 2007

Knowledge and Action – From Dropping Out to Holding On, by María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., IDRA President, IDRA Newsletter, November-December 2006

Assessing Policies for Success of Minority Children, by Albert Cortez, Ph.D., and Abelardo Villarreal, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, June-July 2006

The Promise and Perils of the Texas School Success Initiative – Critical School-Parent Action to Promote Student Success, by Adela Solís, Ph.D., and Anna Alicia Romero, IDRA Newsletter, October 2005

Beyond the Surface – The Costs of High-Stakes Testing, Amanda Walker, Ph.D., IDRA Newsletter, June-July 2005

The Two Faces of NCLB, by Kathryn Brown, IDRA Newsletter, January 2005

Retentions in Grade – Continuing Dysfunctional Educational Responses in Texas, Albert Cortez, Ph.D., and Josie D. Cortez, M.A., IDRA Newsletter, January 2005

Retention and High-Stakes Testing, Accountability and Some Alternatives to Existing State Policies, IDRA statement, February 20, 2003