Huge Racial Disparity in Results on the Teacher Licensing Examination in Massachusetts

Each year more than 16,000 people take the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure. But more than half of the African Americans who take the test fail to achieve a passing grade. More than 75 percent of whites who take the examination pass the test and receive their teaching license.

The racial disparity in testing results has produced a shortage of minority teachers for public schools in the state. In addition, educators at teaching colleges in Massachusetts say that increasingly blacks are declining to pursue a curriculum leading to a career in teaching for fear that they will not pass the state licensing examination.

The state has convened a panel to examine if the licensing examination is in any way culturally biased. The panel will also discuss alternative means of qualifying teachers and will evaluate how teacher training for minority students can be improved.