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Scholarly Interest Report
         
Linda McNeil
Professor
Professor of Education
 
e-mail:lmcneil@rice.edu
 
  • Ph.D., University Fellow Curriculum and Instruction, School of Education (1977) University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • B.A. with high honors English and Spanish (1966) Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
  • M.A. with high honors English (1968) Baylor University, Waco, Texas
 
Primary Department
   Department of Education
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Department Affiliations
 
  • Center for Education
  •  
    Websites
     Center for Education
     Teacher Education
     Education Policy Fellows
     Joint City-County Commission on Children (Houston/Harris County)
     Rice University Center for Education
     Rice University Education Certification
     
    Research Areas
     Curriculum theory, sociology of school knowledge, relationship between school knowledge and power, issues of equity in public education, secondary education, school organization and policy, urban school reform, teaching and learning, the consequences of standardization in education. Education and democracy.
     

    Educational equity, democracy and the factors shaping students' access (or barriers) to knowledge and to ways of knowing.

     

    Linda McSpadden McNeil is a curriculum theorist who studies the factors shaping what is taught in schools. She studies knowledge control and knowledge access in schools, looking in particular at the stratification of access to knowledge in urban public schools across such variables as social class, student ethnicity, and wealth/poverty.  McNeil analyzes the impact of school organizaation structures, federal and state legislated policies, and the knowledge base of teachers on teaching and learning in diverse urban schools.


    The urgency of the emerging de-democratization of public education in the global context, through such policy structures as standardized, centralized accountability system, is the basis for her current writings, McNeil's current book in progress examines this shift in light of the congruence of the privatization of education into "markets" just at a time when the US population is becoming more racially, culturally and linguistically diverse.


     


    McNeil's work is distinguished by its capacity to study the interactions between the macro/systemic, or large-scale factors influencing schooling (social conditions, policies, economic and cultural contexts) and the classroom, or micro-level, where the children are.   The research team of the Rice Center for Education, and in particular McNeil's research over many years, has been influential with both educators and policymakers because of this record of research analyzing the dynamics between the macro and the micro levels of schooling.  Setting ethnographic studies of classrooms in dialogue with policy analysis is not typical of most educational research and places Rice in a unique position to inform both policy and practice.


     


    Linda McNeil's work transitions between fine-grained ethnographic studies of urban schools and classrooms, and analysis of the policies and societal conditions affecting children's education. Her recent focus has been on the new structural inequalities being institutionalized through standardized, highly centralized high-stakes accountability systems at the state and federal levels.  Her recent publications have documented the deleterious effects of this system on Latino and African American youth, English Language Learners and on the degradation of the curriculum under hyper-standardization.


    She is frequently called on my local and national media, legislators, parent groups, community leaders and educators for her analyses of the growing gap between the education of Latino and African American youth, and those living in poverty, and the educational attainment of White, Asian and more economically privileged youth.


     

     

    Teacher Development for urban classrooms, in a diverse cultural context, highly standardized policy context, and pervasive and consistent economic scarcities.

     

    Linda McSpadden McNeil directs the Rice Center for Education, a center for applied research, teacher development and policy analysis.  The Center is the intellectual home for her research on teaching and curriculum in the urban context and it is the laboratory of appied research within which she and her colleagues develop programs of sustained, research-based teacher development in key subject areas.  The teacher development programs of the Center build on the research findings of McNeil and her colleagues to provide constructivist learning opportunities for teachers in their subject fields, in children's learning and in the cultures of the children and their families.  In turn, their work with teachers informs the research McNeil and her colleagues conduct, including the analysis of the teacher development programs themselves and their impact on children's learning. In addition, it was the Center research team's close and on-going relationships with teachers in schools across the metropolitan area that brought to light the severity of the dropout problem, a problem masked by severe underreporting at the state and district levels.  The resulting study showing not only the severity of the dropout crisis, but the ways the accountability system is complicit in the triaging out of African American, Latino and English Language Learner students prior to graduation.


    The Center for Education's  nexus of research venues at the micro-level, inclusive of teachers, children, curriculum content and ways of knowing in schools, and the systemic economic, political, organizational and cultural factors at the macro level has enabled McNeil and her colleagues to publish influential books and papers which are widely cited in the scholarly literature and used by teachers, legislators and their staffers, professors in the US and abroad, and students.

     
    Teaching Areas
     Curriculum theory, secondary education, research methods, teaching and learning, issues of equity in public education, Latino children's education; adolescent literature;
     
    Selected Publications
     Refereed articles
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden; Coppola, E.; Radigan, J.; VasquezHeilig, J.  "Avoidable Losses: High-Stakes Accountability and the Dropout Crisis."  Educational Policy Analysis Archives, North America, 16 (3), January.  http:///epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/28.

     
     

    McNeil, L.M., E. Coppola, J. Radigan, J. Vasquez Heilig.  Avoidable Losses:  High-Stakes Accountability and the Dropout Crisis," Education Policy Analysis Archives, vol 16, 3 (January 2008).

     
     Articles
     

    McNeil, L., “What Piece of the Universe Did Your Students Touch Today?” in

    The Advocate, Texas State Teachers Association, fall 2012.

     
     

    McNeil, L. "Private Asset or Public Good? Education and Democracy at the Crossroads." American Educational Research Journal, 39:2 (2002) : 243-248.

     
     Books
     

    Linda M. McNeil "Numbers and Power: Standardization and the Retreat from Democratic Education."  (InProgress)

     
     

    Linda M. McNeil "Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing." : 296.

     
     

    Linda M. McNeil "Contradictions of Control: School Structure and School Knowledge." 

     
     Book chapters
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden.  "Teaching Boldly in  Timid Schools:  Reflections on Knowledge Access and Knowledge Control," in Teach Boldly! Letters to Teachers about Contemporary Issues in Education.  M.C. Fehr and D.E. Fehr, eds.  Studies in the Post-Modern Theory of Education Series. New York: Peter Lang Press, 2010.

     
     

    L. M. McNeil & E. Coppola "Official and Unofficial Stories: Getting at the Impact of Policy on Educational Practice." Complementary Methods Research Handbook (2005) In Press

     
     

    Linda McNeil "Faking Equity: High Stakes Testing and the Education of Latino Youth." Leaving Children Behind: How "Texas-Style" Accountability Fails Latino Youth (Nov. 2004) : 57-111.

     
     

    McNeil, Linda M. and Coppola, Eileen "Qualitative Research on How Policy Impacts Educational Practice." Complementary Methods Research Handbook ((2004))

     
     

    McNeil, L. "Faking Equity: High Stakes Testing and Latino Youth." Latino Educational Equity (2003) In Revision

     
     Other
     

    McNeil, L. "Special Issue on Education and Democracy." American Educational Research Journal, 39:2 (2002)

     
     

    McNeil, L. "What Can Reforming Schools Teach Us? A Cross-Site Analysis." Forming and Reforming Urban Schools: An Assessment of the Effects of the Houston Annenberg Challenge on the Quality of Teaching and Learning in Four Case Study Schools (2002) : 5-27.In Press

     
     

    McNeil, L., Coppola, Eileen, Harcombe, E., Radigan, Judy, Silva, Ruth "Forming and Reforming Urban Schools: An Assessment of the Effects of the Houston Annenberg Challenge on the Quality of Teaching and Learning in Four Case Study Schools."  (2002) : 342.In Press

     
     

    Linda M. McNeil "Creating New Inequalities: Contradictions of Reform." Phi Delta Kappan, 81:10 (June 2000) : 728-734.

     
     

    Linda M. McNeil "Sameness, Bureaucracy, and the Myth of Educational Equity: The TAAS System of Testing in Texas." Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 22:4 (November 2000) : 508-523.

     
     

    Linda M. McNeil "The Educational Costs of Standardization." Rethinking Schools, 14:4 (Summer 2000) : 8-9, 13.

     
     

    Linda McSpadden McNeil and Angela Valenzuela "The Harmful Impact of the TAAS System of Testing in Texas: Beneath the Accountability Rhetoric."  (In Press, 2000)

     
    Creative Works
     Other - Founding Co-Director of the Rice University Center for Education
     Created to provide programs of urban teacher enhancement and research,
     
    Presentations
     Invited Papers
     

    Presenter.  "Official and Unofficial Stories: Getting at the Impact of Policy on Educational Practice." American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, session on Complementary Methods for Education Research II, San Diego, California. (April 13, 2004) With Eileen Coppola

     
     Invited Talks
     

    An invited talk at the Gulen Institute Conference on the role of governments and NGO's in the education of "at risk" youth.  University of Houston Campus, Houston, Texas

     
     

    “The Hidden Costs of Standardized Testing and Accountability,” at the Measuring Up conference, LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas-Austin (September, 2012).

     
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden, "The Public's Schools and Our Children," invited address at the conference:  Leading the Nation:  A Texas Retrospective on Educational Reform," Texas Center for Education Policy," Austin, Texas, February 9, 2011.

     
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden.  "Standardization and the Fragility of Gains in Equity in US Public Education," American Constitution Society meeting, Houston, Texas May 2008.

     
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden. "The Effects of Standardized Accountability on Children, Teaching and the Content of Schooling (and Alternative Models to Assure Real Learning." Texas Assoc of State School Boards Leadership Conference, Amarillo, Texas, April 2010.

     
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden.  "Avoidable Losses:  High-Stakes Accountability and the Dropout Crisis Among Latino Youth," YMCA Staff Workshop on Hispanic Educational Needs, June 2008.

     
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden, "Avoidable Losses:  Standardization and the Threat to Quality and Equity in Texas Public Schools," Texas Education Agency Policy Leadership Convening, Austin, Texas, October 2008.

     
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden.  "Ahead of the Curve:  Rice in the Schools," Rice University Alumni College, Houston, Texas, May 2009.

     
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden.  "Ahead of the Curve: Rice in the Schools,"  Rice University Alumni College, March 15, 2009

     
     

    "'Avoidable Losses':  The Findings and the Challenge," Hazel Creekmore Symposium, Rice University, April 2008.

     
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden. "Avoidable Losses:  HighStakes Accountability and the Dropout Crisis Among Latino Youth," YMCA Staff Workshops on Hispanic Educational Needs, Houston, Texas, June 17, 2008.

     
     

    "Standardization and the Fragility of Gains in Equity in US Public Education," American Constitution Society, Houston, Texas (May 7, 2008)

     
     

    Invited Speaker.  "Curriculum in Classrooms Symposium: Is the Federal Government Taking Over Educational Research?." American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, California. (April 15, 2004)

     
     

    Invited speaker.  "The Impact of Texas-Style Accountability on Educational Quality, Equity, and the Public's View of Schooling." Education Writers of America, Houston, Texas. (December 3, 2004)

     
     

    Keynote speaker.  ""Democracy, the Humanities, and Our Children: Legacies at Risk."." National Council of Social Studies, College and University Faculty Association, Chicago, Illinois. (November 14, 2003)

     
     

    ""False Accounting and Real Teaching: Reclaiming Our Voices, Our Curriculum, and Our Students in Standardized Schools."." Texas State Teachers Association Conference on Critical Issues in Education, Austin, Texas. (January 25, 2003)

     
     

    Alumni Achievement Award winner, Alumni Weekend address.  ""Who Speaks for the Children in a Standardized World?"." University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, Wisconsin. (May 10, 2003)

     
     

    Annual John Dewey Lecture.  "Children, the Public Good, and the Myth of Accountability." Annual Meeting of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, San Antonio, Texas. (March 10, 2002)

     
     

    "The Educational Effects of Standardized Accountability Systems." Show Me the Money: The Rubric of Accountability for Physical Education in Higher Education, National Association of Health Professionals, San Antonio. (January 10, 2002)

     
     

    "The Fragility of the Writer's Voice in Standardized Classrooms." Writing Across the Curriculum, Rice University, Houston, Texas. (March 7, 2002)

     
     

    "The Harm to Children's Development When Education is Standardized." University of Houston College of Law, Arts, and Humanities, College of Education. Forum: Analyzing Child Abuse, Houston, Texas. (April 19, 2002)

     
     

    Keynote Speaker.  "The System Makes Us Teach Less Than We Know: Calling Science Teachers to Action." Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching, Texas State Science Teachers' Professional Organization, El Paso, Texas. (November 9, 2002)

     
     Keynote Speaker
     

    "Academy Address (invited keynote), “Teaching:  A Restoration Project,” Critical Questions in Education Conference, October 14-15, 2013, San Antonio, Texas

     ." (October 15, 2013)

     
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden.  "Structural Inequalities and the Dropout Crisis," Conference for Aspiring Leaders for Culturally Responsible Schools, Austin, Texas, January 2007

     
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden."Structural Inequities and the Dropout Crisis," Conference for Aspiring School Leaders for Culturally Responsive Schools," Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, January 2007.

     
     Lectures
     

    Speech to San Antonio area principals and school district administrators.  "The Role of the Principal in Maintaining Educational Quality in the Context of Standardization." Trinity University Department of Education, San Antonio, Texas. (September 23, 2004)

     
     

    Invited Lecture: The Lee and Zachary Carter Annual Lecture.  "Where Do Ideas Reside? The Teacher and the Intellectual Life of Schools in the Era of Standardization." Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas. (September 23, 2004)

     
     Other
     

    "Effects of High Stakes Testing: When the 'Texas Miracle' Shapes National Reform." Presidential Address, Chadron State College, Chadron, Nebraska. (January 30, 2001)

     
     

    "False Accounting: High Stakes Testing and the Educational Losses of Minority Youth." Annual Meeting of the California Educational Research Association, South Lake Tahoe, California. (November 15, 2001)

     
     

    "High Stakes Testing and Accountability." Latinos and Educational Equity Conference, co-sponsored by LBJ School of Public Affairs, Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas, the University Provost, Harvard Civil Rights Project, Rice University Center for Education, Austin, Texas. (January 26, 2001)

     
     

    "High Stakes Testing and Latino Youth." Marginalization on the Border Conference sponsored by the University of Texas at El Paso, College of Education, El Paso, Texas. (June 19, 2001)

     
     

    "High Stakes in Texas: A Report on Assessment and Its Consequences." Annual Conference of the California Mathematics Council, Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove, California. (December 1, 2001)

     
     

    "Reform in the Context of Scarcity." presented at a symposium, ?High Stakes Accountability versus Grassroots Teacher-Led Reform: Tensions and Contradictions in the Houston Annenberg Challenge,? AERA Annual Meeting, Seattle, Washington. (April 13, 2001)

     
     

    "The High Stakes of Ending Social Promotion: The Implications of Letting our Children's Future Ride on One Test." Georgia State Legislature Public Forum, Atlanta, Georgia. (March 8, 2001)

     
     

    "The Impact of the TAAS System of Testing on Underprivileged, Minority Youth." Annual Conference of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education, Austin, Texas. (December 3)

     
     

    "The Texas Assessment System: Miracle or Mirage." Center for Urban Education, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California. (November 29, 2001)

     
     

    "Words Made Vulnerable: The Impact of High Stakes Testing on Children's Language Learning ." State Conference of the Michigan Council of Teachers of English, Lansing, Michigan. (October 5, 2001)

     
     

    "Centralized Standardized Testing and the New Discrimination in Children's Access to Knowledge in School." presented in the symposium, "The New Discrimination: Creating and Re-Creating Racial Discrimination in Public Schools," at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans. (April 27, 2000)

     
     

    "Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing." New York State Regional School Superintendents' Annual Retreat, Alexandria, New York. (August 5, 2000)

     
     

    "Creating New Inequalities: Contradictions of School Reform." Educational Foundation Speaker, Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation, District III Conference, Dallas. (October 28, 2000)

     
     

    "High Stakes Tests: Short-Changed Learning." Presented at the conference, "Public Education: Under Attack," the Wisconsin State Administration and Supervisors Council, Milwaukee. (October 27, 2000)

     
     

    "Impact on Classrooms: Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning." National Conference on High Stakes Testing: What are the Effects? Sponsored by the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching; the National Center for Fair and Open Testing; and the Center for Inquiry in Teaching and Learning, New York. (March 31, 2000)

     
     

    "Tests and the Impact on How and What Teachers Teach." The Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, Teachers College, Columbia University, Wingspread, Wisconsin. (September 16, 2000)

     
     

    "The Harmful Impact of the TAAS System of Testing in Texas: Beneath the Accountability Rhetoric." Harvard Civil Rights Project and American Youth Policy Forum, Washington, D.C.. (January 7, 2000) With Angela Valenzuela

     
     

    "The Harmful Impact of the TAAS System of Testing in Texas: Beneath the Accountability Rhetoric." presented at the symposium, "The Civil Rights Implications of K-12 High Stakes Testing," at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans. (April 26, 2000) With Angela Valenzuela

     
     

    "The Political Implications of High-Stakes Testing." presented at a symposium, "High Stakes Tests: Legal and Political Issues," at the National Conference of State Legislatures, Chicago. (July 18, 2000)

     
     

    "Uncommon Teaching for the Common Good." Colloquium on the future of teacher preparation, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. (April 10, 2000)

     
     

    "Centralized Standardized Testing and the New Discrimination in Children's Access to Knowledge in School." In the symposium, The New Discrimination: Creating and Re-Creating Racial Discrimination in Public Schools, New Orleans, Louisiana. (April 27, 2000)

     
     

    "Democracy and Standardization in Education (keynote address)." Accelerated Schools Conference, Austin, Texas. (November 1999)

     
     

    "Re-Inventing Controls: The 'Power Elite' and the Threat of School-Based Reform." American Eductional Research Association Annual Meeting, Montreal. (April 1999)

     
     

    "Research in Urban School Reform." Conference on Education Research in the Urban South, Emory University, Atlanta. (December 1999)

     
     

    "The 'Civic' and the 'Public' in the Context of Standardization." Conference on Public Perceptions of the American System of Justice, American Bar Association, Washington, D.C.. (February 1999)

     
     

    "The Historical Context of Latino Children's Learning." in the symposium, Adding, Subtracting, Dividing: Latino Students in an Urban Middle School, American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec. (April 1999)

     
     

    "Moral & Historical Implications of Pre-Scripted Teaching." Highlighted Address at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego. (April)

     
     

    "The Imagination in the Era of Standardization." Re-Imagining the Common School: The Public and the Children? conference on imagination, the arts and democracy in education, Teachers College, Columbia University. (December)

     
     Panelist
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden.  Panelist, "High-Stakes Testing, Vouchers and Legislative Activism," Abriendo Brecha IV conference, The University of Texas at Austin, February 2007.

     
     

    Discussant and presenter.  "How the Way We Look Influences the Way We Know: Examining Contributions of Different Approaches to Observation." American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, California. (April 15, 2004)

     
     

    "Defining the Issues in research and Advocacy in Urban Education." National Invitational Conference on Educational Research in the Urban South, George Bush Library, College Station, Texas. (December 7, 2002)

     
     Seminar Speaker
     

    McNeil, Linda McSpadden.  "High Stakes Testing, Vouchers and Legislative Activism," Abriendo Brecha I Activist Scholarship Conference on Crisis, Politics and Performan in the Americas, The University of Texas-Austin, February; 22-24, 2007.

     
    Editorial Positions
     Other, Journal of Educational Policy Studies. Journal of Educational Policy Studies. (2013 - 2013)

     Other, University of Texas Press. UT Press. (2013 - 2013)

     Member of the Editorial Board, Journal of Educational Research. (1998 - 1998)

     Editor, American Educational Research Journal, Social and Institutional Analysis. American Educational Research Association. (1999 - 1999)

     Editor, American Educational Research Journal, Social and Institutional Analysis. American Educational Research Association. (2000 - 2000)

     Editor, American Educational Research Journal, Social and Institutional Analysis. American Educational Research Association. (2002 - 2002)

    Supervised Theses & Dissertations
     Ana Wandless, Ph.D. Anthropological study of the culture of a San Antonio charter school. (2009) (Committee Member)

     Amy Williams, Ph.D. Analysis of student attrition from Houston ISD and Houston charter schools. (2012) (Committee Member)

     Reid Whitaker, Ph.D. (exact title not yet available). (2012) (Committee Member)

    Awards, Prizes, & Fellowships
     Alumni Achievement Award, School of Education, University of Wisconsin at Madison (2003)

     Faculty Fellow, Educational Policy Project of the Center for Educational Research, Analysis, and Innovation at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (1999 to present)

     External Reviewer for Promotion and Tenure, Emory University (November 2001)

     External Reviewer for Promotion and Tenure, Teachers College, Columbia University (December 2001)

     External Reviewer, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, Arizona State University (October 2000)

     Faculty Fellow, Educational Policy Project of the Center for Educational Research, Analysis, and Innovation at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (1999 to present)

     Faculty Fellow, Education Policy Project of the Center for Education Research, Analysis, and Innovation at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee (1999 to present)

     Chair, AERA/Spencer Doctoral Fellowship Committee (1997-1999)

    Residencies & Summer Festivals
     Residency
     Equity, Accountability, and Authentic Learning. Graduate-level Class taught as Visiting Professor, University of Washington, Seattle. (July 2003)
    Positions Held
     Education Policy Research Fellow, National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado-Boulder. (2010 - 2010)

     Education Policy Research Fellow, Education Policy Research Fellows, based at Arizona State College of Education. (2004 - 2004)

     Chair, Committee to Select the Annual Outstanding Book Awardee, American Educational Research Association. (2011 - 2011)

     Committee Member and Chair-elect, American Educational Research Assoc. Outstanding Book Award in Education Research. (2011 - 2011)

     Chair, Doctoral AERA/Spencer Doctoral Fellowship Committee, American Education Research Assn and The Spencer Foundation, Inc.. (1999 - 1999)

     Education Policy Research Fellow, Education Policy Research Fellows, founded at UWisconsin-Milwaukee in 2000. (2004 - 2004)