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EDITORIAL: New York gets rid of state teacher literacy test in the name of diversity

For those still unsure whether the nation’s public school system could use a reset, consider the recent news from New York.

Four years ago, the state introduced a literacy exam for prospective teachers — and for good reason. Studies show that an effective, quality teacher is one of the most important factors when it comes to student achievement. They also reveal that too many education colleges accept students with subpar academic records. A 2016 report by the National Council on Teacher Quality “found that 44 percent of the teacher preparation programs it surveyed accepted students from the bottom half of their high school classes,” the Associated Press reported this week.

New York’s Academic Literacy Skills Test was designed to ensure that those charged with educating the state’s children had acquired basic reading and writing skills.

The test results have been astounding. The AP notes that just 46 percent of Hispanics, 41 percent of African-Americans and 64 percent of white candidates passed the exam on the first try. The fact that virtually half of those seeking to become educators couldn’t successfully navigate a test that the New York Post described as a “something a high school senior should be able to pass” is another stunning indictment of teacher prep programs.

All of this, however, is apparently of no concern to New York education officials. Instead of applauding the examinations for identifying teachers who were likely to struggle in the classroom, the state Board of Regents on Monday voted to abolish the test requirement altogether thanks to the racial disparity reflected in the scores.

“There’s not a test in the country that doesn’t have disproportionate performance on the part of blacks or Hispanics,” said Katie Walsh, the president of the National Council on Teacher Quality.

This is political correctness run amok. Certainly the state should strive to implement ways to improve the performance of minority candidates or to lure better minority students to the profession. But turning a blind eye to reality in an effort to promote diversity is to condemn thousands of New York kids to classrooms led by teachers ill-prepared for the rigors of the job.

Obviously, it’s not really about “the children.” Who knew?

 

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