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


School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
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.
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion Researchers Agree the Pandemic Will Worsen Testing Gaps. But How Much?
Without substantial investment in their learning, the life chances of children from low-income families are threatened.
Drew H. Bailey, Greg J. Duncan, Richard J. Murnane & Natalie Au Yeung
4 min read
a boy trying to stop domino effect provoked by coronavirus pandemic
Feodora Chiosea/iStock/Getty Images
Equity & Diversity Opinion The Chauvin Verdict Is in. Now What?
Justice has been served in the murder of George Floyd, but educators must recommit to the fight for racial equity, writes Tyrone C. Howard.

Tyrone C. Howard
4 min read
People gather at Cup Foods after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 death of George Floyd, on April 20, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minn. Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd.
Following the announcement of the guilty verdicts in the George Floyd murder trial this week, people gather outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis.<br/>
Morry Gash/AP
Equity & Diversity 4 Ways George Floyd's Murder Has Changed How We Talk About Race and Education
Floyd’s tragic death and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests evolved the discourse about structural racism in American schools.
9 min read
Tyshawn, 9, left, and his brother Tyler, 11, right, of Baltimore, hold signs saying "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe" as they sit on a concrete barrier near a police line as demonstrators protest along a section of 16th Street that has been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington on June 24, 2020.
Tyshawn, 9, left, and his brother Tyler, 11, right, of Baltimore, hold signs saying "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe" as they sit on a concrete barrier at a demonstration near the White House in the summer of 2020.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Equity & Diversity Opinion Students: Racial Justice Demands More Than a Lawn Sign
Our progressive town is full of “Black Lives Matter” yard signs and Instagram posts. So why do our schools still have huge racial disparities?
Julian Taylor & Phoenix Garayùa-Tudryn
5 min read
A crowd of people of color stand together
Iiulia Kudrina/iStock/Getty Images Plus