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Debra P. v. Turlington

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
644 F.2d 397 (1981)


The State of Florida passed a statute requiring a student to pass a competency examination covering certain basic skills to receive a high-school diploma. This examination was called the Florida State Student Assessment Test, or the SSAT II. Florida conducted several studies regarding the test, including a content-validity study. However, witnesses testified that the Florida Department of Education assumed that certain things were being taught in the classroom. A teacher testified that he did not cover the entire textbook for the subject in his class. When the test was given, many students passed. However, a significant number of students, including a large proportion of black students, failed. A class action was filed on behalf of the failing students (plaintiffs) against the State of Florida, alleging that the test violated the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The trial court ruled in favor of Florida, and the plaintiffs appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Fay, J.)

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