High-Stakes, Standardized Testing and Emergent Bilingual Students in Texas

An Overview of Study Findings and a Call for Action


  • Amy J. Bach University of Texas at El Paso


literacy, high-stakes testing, teacher education


Public schools in the U.S. today are educating more students from language and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds and from lower socioeconomic groups and schools have a history of providing inequitable educational opportunities that disadvantage low income and students of color who are increasingly segregated in under-funded schools. High-stakes standardized tests have long been a part of Texas education policy even though decades of research shows high-stakes, standardized testing to be a deeply flawed policy that further exacerbates already existing educational inequalities and disadvantages non-dominant students. This paper contributes to that body of scholarship by offering an overview of findings from an ethnographic study examining how emergent bilingual students experience high-stakes accountability in a public high school in El Paso. The paper concludes by looking to the role that teacher educators and educator preparation programs can play developing individual agency among in- and pre-service teachers – an agency fueled by professional knowledge about teaching, learning, and testing and by developing imaginative pathways for advocacy – to reduce the dominance of high-stakes, standardized testing systems and test-centric instruction in Texas public schools.


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