Behind the Headline: Judge Rules New York Teacher Exam Did Not Discriminate Against Minorities

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Judge Rules New York Teacher Exam Did Not Discriminate Against Minorities
New York Times | 8/8/15

Behind the Headline
Big Impact: Supreme Court Housing Decision Could Have Significant Effect on Education
Education Next | Winter 2012

A federal judge has ruled that, even though a greater proportion of minority teachers than of white teachers have failed a new licensing exam in New York,  the test can still be used because it does measure skills crucial to teaching.

In an earlier ruling, the same judge, Kimba Wood, had thrown out older licensing tests used by New York.

Elizabeth Harris explains

If an employment test has a disparate racial impact, courts have ruled that officials must prove that it measures skills crucial to the job at hand. Judge Wood had ruled that two earlier exams, both called the Liberal Arts and Sciences Test, had not met that standard. About 4,000 people who at some point were denied full teaching jobs in New York City because they had not passed those tests have filed claims seeking compensation as a result of those rulings.

But this time, Judge Wood ruled that the state and Pearson, the testing company that helped devise the exam, had done a proper job of making sure that the “content of the ALST is representative of the content of a New York State public-school teacher’s job.”

In a Legal Beat column for Education Next, Josh Dunn looks at how disparate impact claims have been used in education. Most notably, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has challenged both school discipline policies and school finance policies that have a disparate impact on minority students.

— Education Next

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