Cambio de Colores 2005

Latinos in Missouri:
Connecting Research to Policy and Practice
Hoy y Mañana

Reynolds Alumni Center, University of Missouri-Columbia,
March 30, 31 & April 1st, 2005

A Workshop on the Future of the No Child Left Behind in Missouri

Theme: Education

Moderator: Alejandra Gudiño, Project Coordinator, Missouri Migrant English Language Learners, University of Missouri


  • Mary Davidson Cohen, Ed.D., Secretary’s Regional Representative, U.S. Department of Education
  • Dr. Phyllis A. Chase, Superintendent, Columbia, Missouri, Public Schools
  • Tara Ramsey, Assistant Director, High School Equivalency Program, Crowder College; Alejandra Gudiño, Project Coordinator, Missouri Migrant English Language Learners

The No Child Left Behind Act, a federal act passed in 2001 that set standards for students to have higher success rates, was an important topic in the Cambio de Colores presentations.  There were three speeches given that directly addressed the No Child Left Behind Act relating to how it affects Hispanics.

Phyllis Chase, the superintendent of the district, discussed what the administration is doing for Hispanics and other minorities in a presentation called “Minority Achievement and No Child Left Behind in Columbia, Missouri” Chase addressed the administration’s three goals, which are to increase achievement for all students, eliminate achievement disparities among groups of students, and to maximize resource efficiency.  

To achieve the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act, Chase appointed a task force in 2002 to research how to close the minority achievement gap among students.    The task force researched data dealing with student success rates on local, state, and national levels and found that early education among children is the key to closing the achievement gap.  They found that there are substantial differences in race and socioeconomic status in school readiness.  According to a task force report, minority children entering kindergarten are one-half a standard deviation below their peers, which will only increase as the children continue school, Chase said.

In the second presentation, Mary Davidson Cohen, secretary’s regional representative for the U.S. Department of Education, discussed the No Child Left Behind Act as well as where Hispanics and other minorities stand within the act.  She said the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act increased the accountability of schools for their students’ success, which has led to more of a focus on education.  However, the education of Hispanics must improve, she said.

According to a fourth-grade study that Cohen referred to in her presentation, 30 percent of Hispanics are proficient in reading and 14 percent are proficient in math.

“We have to see where the high performers are and see what their practices are so we can use them, too,” Cohen said.  “I mean, we’re having students leave high school illiterate.”

Cohen said that to reach Hispanic students, high achievement standards must be set and expected, creativity and flexibility with curriculums must be implemented, and community support and parental involvement is key.  Cohen recognized that parental involvement is a challenge because many parents don’t speak English and they don’t know the goals or practices of the No Child Left Behind Act.

One of the attendants of the presentation said, “Parents can’t speak out because they don’t speak English.”  Cohen replied by showing the attendants several books, information handouts, and a CD which explained the No Child Left Behind Act and how it applies to Hispanic students. 

Tara Ramsey, the assistant director of the High School Equivalency Program at Crowder College, gave her presentation titled “Including Migrant Students in No Child Left Behind.”  She said that migrant education with the No Child Left Behind Act identification and training of migrant programs must improve.  She added that Missouri needs to prioritize the needs of migrants by recruiting and training qualified teachers.

 She also said that migrants need to have time specific webs of support.

 “They may go three years without needing help, but one day they may need it and someone needs to be right there,” Ramsey said.  “A directory can help, but it’s not enough.”

 The presentation’s messages were positive and reinforced that success among Hispanics is improving.  However, all of the speakers agreed that it has a long way to go.

Day 1, Wednesday March 30. Breakout Sessions 3 PM, Breakout 1.

By Lynsea Garrison

By Lynsea Garrison

This conference report contributed by

Mid-Missouri bilingual newspaper.