TUCSON, Ariz.—Arizona’s upcoming high school graduation test is discriminatory because minority students are less likely to pass it than their Anglo peers, a researcher testified.
Gene Glass, associate dean for research at Arizona State University’s College of Education, told a federal judge that an analysis found that if 10 percent of Anglos fail the AIMS test, then more than a third of Hispanic and black students will fail.
Glass’ testimony came during the last day of a trial Wednesday for a class-action lawsuit that charges the state discriminates against students with limited English proficiency.
The suit, which was initiated in 1992 by two parents in the Nogales Unified School District, seeks to force the state to help improve programs for limited-English students.
Glass said he came to his conclusion after analyzing Anglo and minority students’ results on the Stanford 9 – the state’s current standardized test. He said 75 percent of the standards used in the AIMS test are shared by the Stanford 9.
“They are twins of different mothers,” Glass said.
Roger Hall, the state’s attorney, disagreed that other tests’ results can show how students will do on the AIMS, and that race alone determines performance on standardized tests.
“You can’t point to a person’s race or national origin and say that person will do worse on a test,” Hall said.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Bill Morris said the state should kill the graduation requirement.
But if it doesn’t, the state must provide funds for tutoring programs so minority students can perform as well as Anglos on the test, he said.
U.S. District Judge Alfredo Marquez will rule on the case after both sides submit memos, due within 30 days. The two sides are working on a consent decree on other issues.
After Glass’ testimony, defense witnesses spoke about the case’s other main issue – whether the state is providing enough money to carry out required programs for limited-English children.
Currently, the state gives about $ 150 in additional funds per limited-English student.
On Monday, consultant Sidney Borcher testified the state itself estimated in a 1988 study that it costs $ 450 more to educate a limited-English student than it does to teach an English-proficient student.