Equity & Diversity

Groups Win Stay Against Texas Teacher Exam

By Lynn Olson — September 04, 1991 2 min read

A federal judge has temporarily barred the state of Texas from excluding students from teacher-education programs solely on the basis of their failure to pass the state’s pre-professional-skills test.

Judge William Wayne Justice of the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas last week approved the preliminary injunction in United States v. State of Texas.

He wrote that evidence “strongly suggested” the state intended to discriminate in adopting the P.P.S.T., and that plaintiffs’ claims that their 14th-Amendment rights had been violated were likely to succeed.

Since the P.P.S.T. was first given in March 1984, some 6,000 students have failed to pass the test, including 78 percent of blacks, 66 percent of Hispanics, and 27 percent of Anglos.

The Texas Education Agency is seeking a stay of the judge’s order and is planning an appeal.

14th Amendment Rights

The suit was brought by three civil-rights groups—the N.A.A.C.P., the G.I. Forum, and the League of United Latin-American Citizens—and 14 black and Hispanic college students who had failed the exam.

In addition to arguing that the students’ 14th-Amendment rights had been violated, lawyers for the plaintiffs alleged that the state violated the students’ right to due process by not giving them sufficient notice of the test’s contents.

“The indifference displayed by the defendants to the massive adverse impact of the P.P.S.T. requirement, and the lack of any coordinated attempt to institute an organized program of remediation targeted at helping students to pass the P.P.S.T., seem to have sprung from an attitude that minority students were themselves to blame for their poor performance,” the judge wrote.

Test Not Invalid

Judge Justice cautioned that the injunction does not invalidate the test. If the case is not settled in the plaintiffs’ favor, he wrote, students could still have to pass the P.P.S.T. to become certified as teachers.

Meanwhile, he has ordered the state education department to assist colleges of education in informing students who have failed the examination that they may sign up for education courses this semester.

In a statement released the day after the judge’s decision, Commissioner of Education William N. Kirby said he will stand by the “validity and necessity of the test,” which he called “a crucial element” in the state’s efforts to improve teacher quality.

He maintained that the lower passing rates among minorities stem from the fact that Texas has “fallen short” in the past in educating these students, and not from intentional discrimination.

The P.P.S.T. was developed by the Educational Testing Service and is used by institutions of higher education, school districts, and state agencies in 27 states.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 04, 1985 edition of Education Week as Groups Win Stay Against Texas Teacher Exam


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

[2021-2022] Founding Middle School Academic Dean
New York, NY, US
DREAM Charter School
Hiring Bilingual and Special Education Teachers NOW!
Newark, New Jersey
Newark Public Schools
DevOps Engineer
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Senior Business Analyst - 12 Month Contract
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion The Scary Truth About Student Radicalization: It Can Happen Here
How do children grow into hate-filled adults? Researcher Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, a Bosnian genocide survivor, explains.
Amra Sabic-El-Rayess
5 min read
A Hooded teenager standing in a misty forest filled with spiderwebs
Equity & Diversity Why Are Black Teachers Being Vaccinated at Lower Rates Than Their White Peers?
The discrepancies are about more than vaccine hesitancy, says one union leader.
6 min read
A nurse prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine in London.
A nurse prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. Teachers of color in the U.S. are being vaccinated at lower rates that their peers.
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP-File
Equity & Diversity Opinion Which of My Students Were Freezing in the Storm?
As power outages gripped the state, a Texas teacher reflected on the stark opportunity gaps some students face year-round.
Holly Chapman
3 min read
Eithan Colindres wears a winter coat inside on Feb. 15, 2021 after the apartment his family lives in lost power following an overnight snowfall in Houston. With the snow and ice clearing in Texas after the electricity was cut to millions as temperatures plunged as people struggled to stay warm in their unheated homes.
Record-breaking cold and ice brought Texas electricity grids to the breaking point. Many families, including this one in Houston, struggled to stay warm in their unheated homes.
Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP
Equity & Diversity Opinion Don't Teach Black History Without Joy
The Black experience is not one-dimensional. Why do we teach it that way?
Jania Hoover
4 min read
Joyful figures raise their hands and sparkle inside the profile of a smiling woman
Edson Ikê for Education Week