Legal Challenges to the Program, Status Report - 1982


Debra P. v. Turlington Court Case

In response to the decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Department of Education, during the summer of 1982, implemented a study which would answer the question of whether Florida students had received instruction on the SSAT-II skills.

In order to demonstrate that the SSAT-II is a fair test of what is taught in the classrooms, the study involved all 67 local school districts. It consisted of the following components:

  1. An analysis of instructional materials used in each district;
  2. A description of district plans and procedures for teaching the required SSAT-II skills;
  3. A survey of classroom teachers concerning their instruction of the SSAT-II skills;
  4. On-site visitations to each district by a team of educational specialists and, as a part of the on-site visit, a survey of students in a sample of eleventh grade classes.

Materials gathered for the study were based upon what was taught during the 1981-82 school year, including summer school.

District Report of SSAT-II Instructional Activities

The district report provided an analysis of each district's instructional materials and the relationship of those materials to instruction on the SSAT-II skills. The report indicated at which grade level instruction was sufficient for skill mastery. Any remedial programs or any staff development activities that were related to SSAT-II skills were also listed in the report.

Teacher Survey

Surveys were sent to approximately 70,000 teachers of grades two through twelve throughout the State. The teachers participating in the survey were those teaching in academic and vocational areas. Teachers were asked to respond anonymously as to whether they had provided instruction on each of the SSAT-II skills. Further, they were asked if they had provided instruction sufficient for mastery on each skill.

On-Site Visitation of Districts

After the district reports were received by the Department, they were duplicated and given to members of the on-site visit teams. An on-site team consisting of a minimum of three people--one from the Department and two from neighboring districts--was assigned to each district. The team was responsible for verifying the information previously submitted in the district report. The team gathered information from a random sample of schools and completed a written form indicating whether the information in the district report was or was not verified.

Student Survey

During the time of the on-site visits, selected students were surveyed to find out if they had been taught the SSAT-II skills. The survey listed the skills and provided several test questions for each skill. Students were asked to indicate whether or not they had been taught in school how to answer the test questions.

These reports and surveys made a total package of information from each district and were gathered to form the instructional validity study presented to several expert witnesses for analysis. The testimony of the witnesses was part of the evidence presented to the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, during the Debra P. v. Turlington trial in February 1983.

Love v. Turlington Court Case

The Love v. Turlington court case was settled out of court in October 1982. As part of the settlement, the plaintiff was awarded a high school diploma. The plaintiff's attorney filed suit for financial damages from the defendants.