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Judge: New York teacher exam is NOT racially discriminatory

Judge Kimba Wood has, on the third go-round now, ruled that New York State’s latest incarnation of the teacher licensing exam is not biased against minority teacher candidates.

As reported by The College Fix in early June, Wood previously had determined that the exams had a “disparate impact” on minorities because they did not “test evaluated skills necessary to do the job.”

This time, Wood said, the state and publisher Pearson “had done a proper job of making sure that the ‘content of the ALST [Academic Literacy Skills Test] is representative of the content of a New York State public-school teacher’s job.’”

The New York Times reports:

In a statement, Dennis Tompkins, a spokesman for the State Education Department, said: “Judge Wood’s decision reflects the efforts made by the department to demonstrate the validity of the ALST. Our students need and deserve the best qualified teachers possible, and the ALST helps make sure they get those teachers.”

Even so, following complaints from schools of education, the state granted teacher candidates a reprieve, saying that until June 30, 2016, they could get their licenses without passing the exam if they could demonstrate literacy skills through course work.

Alfred S. Posamentier, until recently the dean of Mercy College School of Education, said he did not consider the test to be a strong indicator of who would be a good teacher, and that his Hispanic faculty members in particular said they found the test to be discriminatory. Students at Mercy passed the test at a lower rate than their counterparts statewide.

Mr. Posamentier said that while it was important to be a clear, literate communicator, “the ALST measures how eloquent a person is in the English language.”

“The question is, is that one of the criterion for determining who will be a good teacher?” he said. “My sense is that the answer is no.”

Hmm. Considering “eloquent” means “clearly expressing or indicating something,” what’s the essential difference, Mr. Posamentier?

And yes, that should be a criterion for “good teaching.”

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IMAGE: Merrimack College/Flickr

About the Author
Assistant Editor
Dave Huber is assistant editor of The College Fix. He has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over a decade, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. Dave is a retired educator with over 25 years of service who holds a B.A. and M.Ed. from the University of Delaware, as well as graduate student membership in the National Association of Scholars.

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