United States v. South Carolina

445 F. Supp. 1094 (1977)

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United States v. South Carolina

United States District Court for the District of South Carolina
445 F. Supp. 1094 (1977)

Facts

For over 30 years, the State of South Carolina (the state) (defendant) and local school boards in the state (defendants) used scores from the National Teacher Examinations (NTE) in making decisions regarding teacher certification, teacher compensation, and state aid for local school districts. Beginning in 1969, the state required a minimum NTE score of 975 for teacher certification. In 1975, the United States, the National Education Association, and other individuals and entities (plaintiffs) sued the state, various state organizations, and three local school boards, alleging violations of the United States Constitution and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) based on the NTE minimum-score requirement. The plaintiffs demonstrated that the minimum-score requirement disqualified a substantially disproportionate number of Black teachers. In response, the state asked the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to study the validity of the NTE to justify the state’s use of the tests. The ETS study validated the NTE not by comparing test scores to job performance, but rather by measuring the degree to which the content of the NTE matched the content of the state’s teacher-training curriculum. ETS canvassed all 25 teacher-training schools in the state and assembled a group of Black and White credentialed teachers to evaluate the NTE. One group of evaluators compared the content of the NTE to the content of the teacher-training curriculum. A second group of evaluators was tasked with establishing an accurate minimum-score requirement. Each major NTE subject area was reviewed by a teacher who specialized in that subject area. The content-review panels found that the material on the NTE was sufficiently related to the state’s teacher-training curriculum to appropriately assess the candidates. The minimum-score panels’ feedback was used to create scaled scores for each NTE test that reflected a level of knowledge possessed by a minimally knowledgeable candidate on questions that the content-review panels had deemed appropriate for use in the state. The state presented the study to the court and presented testimony from multiple experts who opined that the design of the ETS study met professional standards from the American Psychological Association. Following the study, the state established new teacher-certification requirements in 1976 that included updated minimum-score requirements. The district court considered the content-validity study in deciding the plaintiffs’ Title VII claims.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Haynsworth, Russell, and Simons, JJ.)

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