Legal Challenges to the Program, Status Report - 1981


As a result of the Commissioner's appeal, the Appeals Court commended Florida teachers and students for the increasing passing rate of students on the SSAT-II. The Court, nevertheless, sent the case back to the original district court indicating students could not be deprived of a diploma on the basis of failing the SSAT-II until the State had demonstrated (1) that the test is a fair test of what is taught in the classrooms, and (2) that any "racially discriminatory impact" is not due to a possible vestige of a previous dual or segregated school system.

The court ruling did not affect the third, fifth, eighth, or eleventh grade basic skills portion (the State Student Assessment Test, Part I) of the Assessment Program. In fact, successful achievement of the eleventh grade Minimum Student Performance Standards was and is a requirement for graduation.

Love v. Turlington

In May 1980, Bay Area Legal Services, Inc., filed the Love case against the state basic skills testing program. The plaintiff's attorneys included the Center for Law and Education at Harvard. These two groups also represented plaintiffs in the Debra P. case.

The Love case was similar to the Debra P. case in its design and intent. The plaintiff's attorneys alleged that the use of the basic skills testing program results in "lasting harmful effects" on the plaintiff, was a violation of due process, results in "adverse stigma," and furthers prior segregation of the schools. Further, the plaintiff's attorneys alleged that the basic skills test had not be properly validated and the implementation schedule was unfair.

Preliminary motions were made to the same court and judge as in the Debra P. case. A trial date was not set, but the judge refused class certification in the case. Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Education requested that school districts not issue a Certificate of Completion to students who lacked certification of the required Minimum Student Performance Standards.