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National Education Association v. South Carolina
United States Supreme Court
434 U.S. 1026, 98 S. Ct. 756, 54 L. Ed. 2d 775 (1978)
The State of South Carolina (the state) (defendant) used scores from the National Teacher Examinations (NTE) in hiring, certifying, classifying, and paying teachers. Only two other states used the NTE for certifying teachers, and no other states used the NTE to determine teachers’ compensation. Moreover, the authors of the NTE advised against using the NTE as the only criteria for teacher certification and advised against using the NTE to determine compensation for experienced teachers. The United States and other individuals and entities including the National Education Association (plaintiffs) sued the state, alleging that the use of the NTE scores disadvantaged Black teachers in violation of the United States Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The state commissioned a study to validate the NTE by comparing the content of the NTE to the content of the state’s teacher-training curriculum. Based on the results of the study, the state issued new minimum-score requirements to be used in hiring and certification decisions. However, the revised score requirements disqualified 83 percent of Black teaching applicants compared to only 17.5 percent of White teaching applicants. The score requirements also resulted in 96 percent of newly certified teachers being White teachers and resulted in a greater percentage of Black teachers being placed in lower-paying classifications. A three-judge panel of the district court found that the content-validation study was sufficient to validate the NTE and that it was not necessary to validate the NTE by comparing teachers’ NTE scores to their job performance. Accordingly, the district court held that the state had justified its use of the NTE despite the tests’ disparate racial impact. The National Education Association and other plaintiffs appealed directly to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning
Dissent (White, J.)
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