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Latino State News

Basic Skills Test’s New Standards Result in Fewer Minorities Passing

Chicago community groups in Illinois are arguing that standards for new teacher exams, which all college students have to take to get into a teacher-training program, are discriminating against minorities.

As of Sept. 11, 2010, the Basic Skills Test (BST) now requires takers to correctly answer 75 percent of the math questions as opposed to the previous requirement of 35 percent. This new standard, minority groups are claiming, unfairly target minority students.

The number of Latino and black teacher-hopefuls passing the BST dramatically decreased since the September standards change. In all, the number of passing candidates dropped from 85 percent in the previous year, to 22 percent this year. Only 3 percent of black and 7 percent of Latino test-takers passed in September, which is down from the previous year which saw blacks at 56 percent, and Latinos at 68 percent.

While a number of organizations seem outraged at the perceived discrimination, spokeswoman for the Illinois Board of Education, Mary Fergus said the point of the raised standards was to ensure the teachers were adequately prepared for teaching, especially as schools prepare for a more rigorous curriculum.

“It is important to have strong standards,” said Fergus.

On the other side, many argue that the raising of standards will allow for the proposal of higher pay for teachers.