High School Level Literacy Tests for Teachers are Racist

Tests are racist. If they have a disproportionate impact, then they are by definition racist. Tests in school are racist. Tests for teachers are racist. When we eliminate all literacy qualifications for teachers and students, truly illiterate social justice will be achieved.

Test Means to Screen Teachers Instead Weeded Out Minorities

I love the headline. It sums up the whole worldview. If minority teacher candidates are more likely to fail a literacy test, it must be the fault of the test.

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.

There you go. Let's also eliminate any laws and tests that have a disproportionate impact. Including traffic laws.

The literacy test was among four assessments introduced in the 2013-2014 school year as part of an effort to raise the level of elementary and secondary school teaching in the state.

So much for that.

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.

It can't be the fault of the teachers. It must be the fault of the test.

Ian Rosenblum, the executive director of the New York office of the Education Trust, a nonprofit that advocates for high achievement for all students, called the literacy test "a 12th grade-level assessment" - something a high school senior should be able to pass.

How dare we require 12th grade literacy from teacher candidates?

But Pace University student Tabitha Colon took the test last year and failed to get a passing score. She likened it to the English portion of the SAT and said it was "pretty difficult." Plus, she said, she was thrown off by the fact that the test was given online, rather than on paper.

"The format on the computer was a bit confusing," she said.

Colon, 21, was still able to pass thanks to a "safety net" provision that lets students demonstrate proficiency by submitting grades from a class. She is now working as a student teacher at a middle school in Ossining.

I can't imagine why our educational system is broken.

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