By Casey Quinlan
A federal judge ruled that a New York Teachers exam is racially biased because it did not properly measure skills relevant to all teachers. For black and Latino candidates, the pass rate ranged between 54 percent and 75 percent of white candidates’ pass rate.
The Liberal Arts and Sciences Test, LAST-2 “was not properly validated as job related, because the exam’s designers did not employ procedures to identify the specific areas of depth and knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences that any competent teacher would need to understand,” Kimba M. Wood wrote in her decision.
This was the latest salvo in a court battle that has been going on since 1996. In 2012, the same federal judge ruled that an older teachers’ exam, LAST-1, which was discontinued in 2004, was also racially biased. The decision to test teachers this way began in 1988 when a New York task force that studied teacher qualifications concluded that “all teachers should have a basic understanding of the liberal arts in order to be competent to teach,” and the LAST-1 test began being administered to teachers in 1993.
One of the issues with the exam was its focus on liberal arts, and the assumption that all teachers should be familiar with those subject areas in ord