NY Dropping Teacher Literacy Test… BECAUSE RACISM!
The United States is falling further and further behind when it comes to global education rankings and Americans have been stressing over how to improve education in the country. Donald Trump’s new Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, wants to implement greater school choice, supported by most conservatives. Liberals, on the other hand, want to lower standards even further for teachers. Just look at New York state.
The New York Board of Regents has announced their plans to scrap the Academic Literacy Skills Test for prospective teachers, based on the recommendations of a task force, after complaints that large percentages of black and Hispanic applicants were failing.
“We want high standards, without a doubt. Not every given test is going to get us there,” Leslie Soodak said. Soodak served on the task force that made the recommendation and is a professor of education at Pace University. The literacy test was introduced in 2013 after years of complaints that students entering education programs in New York colleges and universities were unqualified. A December 2016 study by the National Council on Teacher Quality found 44 percent of the teacher-preparation programs were accepting students who were in the bottom half of their high school classes.
The test was accused of being racially biased, after it was found that only 46% of Hispanic applicants and 41% of black applicants passed, while 64% of white applicants passed. Critics also point to the $131 fee to take the test, saying it was too high. A federal judge ruled that it was not discriminatory in 2015. But it didn’t matter. “Having a white workforce really doesn’t match our student body anymore,” Soodak said. Kate Walsh, the president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, argued that the reason minorities don’t do as well on the test is because of 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.
A $20 practice exam, a potential replacement, has been introduced on the New York State Education Department website. Charles Sahm, the director of education policy at the Manhattan Institute, was strongly critical of the new test. “I do agree that it’s not a great test,” Sahm said. “I found the reading comprehension section to be kind of infuriating. I only got 21 out of 40 right.” Ian Rosenblum, the executive director of the New York office of the Education Trust, said it was something that a high-school senior should be able to pass.
Do you support scrapping the literacy exam?