Posts Tagged ‘test discrimination’

Chicago pays $78.4 million fine for stupid job test

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

People are getting more and more concerned about the cost of testing — and we really have no idea what we’re spending.

But here’s a big number everyone can understand: a $78 million compensation award for Chicago African-American firefighter applicants who, according to a federal judge, were denied job opportunity as a firefighter because of the city’s discriminatory entrance test.

The Sun-Times reported:

“The 1995 firefighters entrance exam was drafted by an African American with an eye toward diversifying a Chicago Fire Department with a long and documented history of discrimination. When results for minorities were disappointing, the city established a cutoff score of 89 and hired randomly from the top 1,800 “well-qualified” candidates. In 2005, a federal judge ruled that the city’s decision had the effect of perpetuating the predominantly white status quo, because 78 percent of those “well-qualified” candidates were white.”

As for the costs of the nation’s rapidly growing test and test prep programs, we may have to look for answers to legislation like this resolution passed by the New Mexico Senate, which expresses concern that testing is eating into instructional time, and requires a report on

  • the number and kinds of tests required by various entities, such as the federal government, state government, district and school or classroom assessments;
  • the per-student cost of assessments;
  • the amount of instructional time spent both on preparing students to take assessments and on the time spent by students taking assessments; and
  • the ways in which the data are used.

Teacher Adam Heenan shared this with me after our testing panel at St Xavier last night (more on that later). He reports that the resolution passed the NM Senate and similar language was adopted by the NEA and AFT this past summer. Adam says that the proposal was written with Xian Barrett and Elaine Romero along with input and inspiration from George and Sharon Schmidt.

Check out Adam’s blog here.


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.