New York State has been trying to raise teacher standards in order to solve the problem of low graduation and literacy rates in minority school populations.

That makes sense – how can an academically unqualified teacher be expected to help raise academic success among students. These increased standards were meant to help minority students by ensuring that qualified teachers were not limited to wealthier districts.

One of the key components of the push for higher teacher qualifications was a literacy test. The test is just one of several tests prospective teachers need to pass. That literacy test survived a court challenge in 2015.  A federal judge found that the test, unlike prior tests, was not discriminatory:

… 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.”

Yet that has not stopped claims that the test is racist based entirely on the tests results, which Black and Hispanic prospective teachers passed as lower rates than whites.

Education reformers believe that tests like New York’s Academic Literacy Skills Test can weed out potentially lousy teachers.

The tests, however, came under intense scrutiny for their alleged racial bias, after 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.

Plus, critics said, the test’s $131 price tag is too steep.

The Test Design summary describes the components, with the key components reading and writing.

https://web.archive.org/web/20170314150509/https://www.nystce.nesinc.com/content/docs/NY202_OBJ_FINAL.pdf

So the NY State Regents, the government body that controls public education in NY State, has voted to scrap the test.

The NY Times misleadingly includes the claim of discrimination in the title, Regents Drop Teacher Literacy Test Seen as Discriminatory:

The Board of Regents on Monday eliminated a requirement that aspiring teachers in New York State pass a literacy test to become certified after the test proved controversial because black and Hispanic candidates passed it at significantly lower rates than white candidates.

The Regents also moved forward with a proposal that would allow some students who failed another test, aimed at evaluating practical skills like lesson planning and assessment, to be certified as teachers based on their grades and professors’ recommendations.

Together, the steps signal how much the Regents’ approach has changed under the current chancellor, Betty A. Rosa, after several years of efforts to raise the bar for entering the profession.

The webpage for the literacy test now has a Notice that it no longer applies:

https://www.nystce.nesinc.com/TestView.aspx?f=HTML_FRAG/NY202_TestPage.html

The victims of this move will be minority students. National Council for Teacher Quality (NCTQ) President Kate Walsh released this statement:

“Getting rid of this recent licensing test is a big step backwards, not just for New York but for the country. This test, first implemented in 2013-14, put the academic needs of students above the employment interests of teachers. Rather than lowering standards by removing the Academic Literacy Skills Test, we should work to educate future teachers to reach this level. Otherwise, it is our students, especially those from traditionally disadvantaged and minority backgrounds, who will suffer most in the long run.”

Scraping non-discriminatory, relevant testing is part of a trend that has been going on for a long time. Just recently, Harvard Law to Accept Applicant GRE Scores in Place of LSAT for Diversity.

Where does it stop when equal opportunity no longer is that standard, and “fairness” becomes racial quotas in the name of diversity?