Question : A New York State task force on
A New York State task force on teacher qualifications decided that all teachers needed a basic understanding of liberal arts and sciences. National Evaluation Systems (NES), a professional test development company, was hired to develop the Liberal arts and Sciences Test (LAST) to measure this knowledge. NES began by establishing two committees of teachers and professors (Committees) to ensure that the LAST was both relevant to the job of a New York public school teacher and free from bias. The Committees reviewed a draft framework, a list of exam subtopics, and sample questions. NES then sent its draft framework and subtopics for review to twelve hundred New York public school teachers and education professors. It also piloted some sample questions on students at various state education colleges. To determine what a passing score should be, the Committees estimated what percentage of test-takers would answer each question correctly. They recommended a passing score of between 38 and 48. The New York State Education Commissioner ultimately established 43 as the required score. Teachers could not be licensed to teach in New York City unless they passed the LAST. Whites succeeded at a higher rate than African-Americans and Latinos. A group of minority teachers filed suit against the Board of Education for the City of New York (Board) alleging that the LAST violated Title VII. Issue: Did the LAST violate Title VII? Excerpts from Judge Wood’s Decision: Under Title VII, an exam is job related if it has been properly validated. The essence of validation is in the requirement that the content of the test be related to the content of the job. There are several flaws in the way that NES developed [the LAST] that prevent the Court from finding that the company conducted a suitable job analysis. First, NES never created a list of the tasks teachers perform, nor determined whether the subtopics identify knowledge needed to perform those tasks. Second, NES representatives testified that the company collected materials from schools and colleges throughout the state, interviewed deans and administrators of liberal arts programs at colleges and universities in New York, and consulted with education experts. The representatives, however, could not describe how the information collected was used or how it supported the choice of subtopics. It also appears that NES actually drafted the subtopics prior to collecting materials and conducting interviews. The third requirement is that the content of the exam must be directly related to the content of the job. The fact that the LAST is related generally to the liberal arts and sciences does not prove that the exam is job related; indeed, the liberal arts and sciences is an extremely broad field that encompasses far more than the basic knowledge all teachers need in order to be competent. Rather, to be job related, the LAST must test for the minimum level of knowledge about the liberal arts and sciences that is necessary to ensure that all teachers are competent to teach. There is no evidence in the record establishing the minimum level of knowledge about the liberal arts and sciences needed by all teachers. Consequently, the Court finds that the Board has failed to establish that the LAST is directly related to teachers’ jobs. [A court must also] determine whether the exam is scored in a way that usefully selects those applicants who can better perform the job. There is no evidence that the committees were given any guidance as to the definition of minimally-competent. At the same time, there was no evidence that higher scores on the LAST correlated with better teacher or student performance in the classroom. In conclusion, the Court finds that the LAST is not job related, and the Board violated Title VII by requiring plaintiffs to pass the exam in order to receive a teaching license. Required: a. What was the purpose of the LAST test? b. What proof was there that the LAST tested this competency? c. What were the defects in the preparation of the LAST?