University of Texas at AustinDivision of Diversity and Community Engagement

Spotlight on TCEP

“The lifeblood of our state’s future is education. The UT Texas Center for Education Policy is the rare place that cultivates fresh thinking on how to solve and adjust to the challenges of providing high-caliber education to a brilliantly diverse state. TCEP forms a needed bridge between theory and practice, today and tomorrow. Texas is and will be a better place because of this dynamic institution.”
— Ben Barnes, Former Lieutenant Governor of Texas and TCEP Advisory Board Member

Since 2006, under the direction of Dr. Angela Valenzuela, DDCE associate vice president for School Partnerships and professor in Curriculum and Instruction, the Texas Center for Education Policy (TCEP) has promoted equity and excellence in public elementary, secondary and higher education. TCEP does this through various means, including the development of research-based proposals, policy seminars, collaborations, partnerships and programmatic activities.

As part of the DDCE Fall Lecture Series, Dr. Angela Valenzuela discusses research on immigration, human rights, and binational relations, conducted while she was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico.

The Center’s mission is to work in service and in partnership with local, state, national and international education communities by bringing research to bear on the policy discussions of the day. During the 81st Session of the 2009 biennial Texas State Legislature, the Center’s research in the areas of assessment and accountability, student grade promotion, bilingual education, English language learners, teacher quality, parental involvement and dropout prevention was requested by several legislators. Throughout the session, the Center worked with House members of the education committees, the Mexican American and Black Legislative Caucuses, as well as several Senators, on more than 35 bills.

Most notably, the Center’s research helped inform House Bill 3, a reform of Texas’ assessment and accountability system, high school graduation and college readiness requirements. The Center’s research played a role in the state’s removal of the high stakes attached to student test performance that determined promotion decisions for third-grade children. This shift in state policy draws from student-centered research and five consecutive sessions of work by a number of people including State Representative Dora Olivo and Dr. Valenzuela.

During the 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 legislative sessions, State Representative Dora Olivo drew from Valenzuela’s research on the detrimental effects of high-stakes testing on poor, minority, English language learner youth and the benefits of multiple compensatory criteria in assessment. This research translated into proposed legislation by Rep. Olivo in the 77th, 78th, 79th, 80th and 81st sessions of the legislature that called for the use of a multiple-criteria, holistic review of students when making high-stakes decisions on promotion and retention. These criteria include course grades, coursework performance, teacher and administrator evaluations, and parent consent, in addition to standardized test scores. The proposed legislation also called for a reform of accelerated instruction programs to provide interventions that are focused on content- and research-based academic support rather than test-based preparation when a student does not perform satisfactorily on an assessment.

According to Dr. Valenzuela, “The passage of HB 3’s Multiple Compensatory Criteria has the potential to impact 355,214 third-grade children in Texas who may benefit from the use of the holistic assessment and promotion policy informed by research.”