◆ New York state requires prospective teachers to take a basic test for reading and writing.
◆ A federal judge has evaluated the test and ruled it is fair and not discriminatory.
NEW YORK (AP) – New York education officials are poised to scrap a test designed to measure the reading and writing skills of people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing it. . . .
Leaders of the education reform movement have complained for years about the caliber of students entering education schools and the quality of the instruction they receive there. A December 2016 study by the National Council on Teacher Quality found that 44 percent of the teacher preparation programs it surveyed accepted students from the bottom half of their high school classes.
The reformers believe tests like New York’s Academic Literacy Skills Test can serve to weed out aspiring teachers who aren’t strong students.
But the literacy test raised alarms from the beginning because just 46 percent of Hispanic test takers and 41 percent of black test takers passed it on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates. –AP
Comment #1: This revision is designed to help adult school employees (and potential employees) at the expense of children’s learning.
That misses the whole point of proper K-12 Education Policy. It should focus exclusively on what is best for the students, not the adult employees. In too many cities and states, it doesn’t.
If what is best for kids is also best for teachers, as it often is, that’s great. If the two diverge, go with what is best for the kids. That should be the goal of education policy, even though students don’t have well-paid lobbyists or union organizations working for them. (Ah, see the problem!)
In New York’s case, any help to minority teachers from slackening requirement will surely come at the expense of minority students in classes taught by poorly-qualified teachers. Who speaks for the kids?
Comment #2: If the test’s content is not biased, and if it is directly related to the job, then the test is not biased, regardless of the outcome. Period.
Unfortunately, progressives now consider a test biased if the outcome does not suit them, even if the underlying process is neutral and non-discriminatory.
The test itself has been ruled non-discriminatory, meaning that it has neutral content. The Obama Administration was moving to reverse these rulings based solely on outcomes they did not like, even if the content was neutral and the process fair. Under Eric Holder, the Dept. of Justice filed suits against employment tests, even if they were fair and directly relevant to the job requirements, solely because more minorities failed them. That viewpoint is firmly embedded in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, inherited by Jeff Sessions. Any wonder the “career civil servants” in that department are pushing back, reading to do everything they can to undermine the Administration? They have civil service protection, but the are highly politicized advocates and were put there by previous administrations for that very reason.
More broadly, the whole idea that outcomes, not process, should be the legal measure of discrimination is wrong. If the outcomes show “too few” of group X or Y, we should focus on correcting the underlying reasons, not changing a subsequent result reached by a fair process.
Comment #3: MEDIA BIAS: The Associated Press gave this story a seriously misleading headline. Local papers are repeating it.
That headline is both slanted and inaccurate. The key word is “instead.”
According to the article, the test did screen teachers for competence in reading and writing. That it, it did its job and did it using a neutral test, pre-tested for non-discrimination and approved by a federal judge. It also “weeded out” people who could not pass, whatever their race. More minorities than white failed, but many whites failed, too.
But the test did not “weed out minorities” instead of screening teachers for competence. It weeded them out because it screened teachers for competence.
The AP has written an editorial instead of a neutral, descriptive headline.
Once upon a time, readers could count on the Associated Press for fair reporting, adhering to the Joe Friday rule, “Just the facts, m’am.” No more.