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Agency Cites Texas Competency Tests As Unfair for Minority, Older Teachers

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A minimum-competency test that Texas educators were forced to pass in 1986 in order to keep their jobs discriminated against blacks and people over the age of 40, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled last week.

The civil-rights agency's ruling came in response to a complaint filed by four Texas teachers and supported by the Texas State Teachers' Association.

Brad Ritter, a spokesman for the teachers' union, said the organization applauded any action that would provide relief for the estimated 1,800 teachers who lost their jobs after failing the Texas Examination of Current Administrators and Teachers, or tecat.

More than 200,000 Texas educators took the test in May 1986, and more than 99 percent passed. In their complaint, the teachers4contended that the test had a discriminatory effect on blacks and people over 40 because smaller percentages of individuals in those groups passed it.

William N. Kirby, the state commissioner of education, criticized the eeoc ruling, noting that both a state court and the U.S. Education Department's office for civil rights had rejected similar allegations of discrimination.

He also said that the passing rate for blacks was 98 percent, just slightly under the rate for all test-takers, and that the passing rate for those over 40 was 99.6 percent.

The commissioner said that the civil-rights agency has agreed to review such data submitted by the Texas Education Agency and may reconsider its decision.

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