A nearly 30-year-old racial-bias case that revamped the way Alabama tests teachers for certification ended last week after a federal judge dismissed it because no challenges were filed to the subject-matter tests the state resumed giving in 2006.
Teachers in Alabama are required to take the Praxis II exam to get their certificates or to be certified in a new area. The state also has been conducting basic-skills tests since 2000; plaintiffs agreed to let Alabama test new teachers in basic skills so the state could meet requirements in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The case began in 1981, when historically black Alabama State University and some of its students filed suit contending that new subject-matter tests, developed in Alabama, were racially biased. Five years later, the state agreed to drop the tests after the state school board agreed not to use any teachers exam for which the difference in the failure rate between races was more than 5 percent. No teacher-certification tests were given for many years, until later settlements were reached.
A version of this article appeared in the February 03, 2010 edition of Education Week as Ala. Case on Racial Bias in Testing For Teachers Ends After 30 Years