Test for teacher applicants tossed to avoid discrimination


On Monday, New York education officials are expected to throw out an exam that tests prospective teachers on basic reading and writing skills, in part because of its effect on minorities.

A state task force has asked the New York Board of Regents to end the exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test, due to the amount of black and Hispanic candidates who are failing it.

On the first try, only 41 percent of black prospective teachers and 46 percent of Hispanics passed the exam, as compared to 64 percent of white teaching candidates.

Leslie Soodak, a Pace University professor and task force member told the Associated Press: “We want high standards, without a doubt. Not every given test is going to get us there.”

The test was introduced in the 2013-2014 school year as one of four assessments to raise standards of elementary and secondary school teaching in New York.

“New York put together a suite of testing products that really got at the lack of rigor in teacher prep,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality.

A study by the Council in December 2016 found that 44 percent of the teacher preparation programs “cannot ensure that most of their incoming candidates are among the top half of college students.”

Proponents of the test argue its elimination may put weak teachers in classrooms.

In 2015, a judge overruled opponents of the test who attempted to have it removed in court, saying it was “discriminatory” because minorities scored lower on it.

However, opponents, like Soodak, have maintained that a test that weeds out minorities is problematic.

“Having a white workforce really doesn’t match our student body anymore.”

The Board of Regents is expected to accept the task force’s recommendation for eliminating the test on Monday.

The Poughkeepsie Journal further reported:

Kate Walsh, the president of National Council on Teacher Quality, which pushes for higher standards for teachers, said that blacks and Latinos don’t score as well as whites on the literacy test because of factors like poverty and the legacy of racism.

“There’s not a test in the country that doesn’t have disproportionate performance on the part of blacks and Latinos,” Walsh said.

H/T: The Daily Caller, Poughkeepsie Journal

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