In an opinion today, Judge Wood ruled that a revised version of a test given to aspiring teachers – called Liberal Arts and Sciences Test (or “LAST-2”) – was, like its predecessor, LAST-1, unlawfully discriminatory:
[T]he Court holds that the [Board of Education] unfairly discriminated against African-American and Latino applicants by requiring them to pass the LAST-2. Like its predecessor, the LAST-2 had a disparate impact on African-American and Latino test takers. And like its predecessor, the LAST-2 was not properly validated as job related, because the exam’s designers did not employ procedures to identify the specific areas and depth of knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences that any competent teacher would need to understand. The BOE’s use of the LAST-2 was thus unfairly discriminatory under Title VII. In reaching that conclusion, the Court does not suggest that it would be unhelpful or unwise for the BOE to test applicants’ knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences with a properly validated exam. It may be the case that all teachers, whether they instruct kindergarteners or high school seniors, must understand certain areas of the liberal arts and sciences (separate and apart from the particular subject matter they teach) in order to be competent in the classroom. But the Court is not permitted to simply intuit that fact; test designers must establish it through adequate validation procedures. In that regard, both the LAST-1 and the LAST-2 were deficient, which renders them indefensible under Title VII.