A secret congressional study of the pass-fail rates for the government's primary job test for college graduates shows that whites are 80 times more likely to get passing scores than are blacks or hispanics.
That data, if correct, could have a major bearing on a pending court case demanding that the government scrap the Professional Administrative Clerical Exam (PACE) on grounds that it screens out minority group job applicants. More than 200,000 people take the PACE test each year. About 12,000 pass and are hired at jobs in the Grade 5 ($10,507) to Grade 9 ($15,920) range. Most are college graduates.
Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) who has been briefed on the General Accounting Office study says the figures are "shocking" and, if true, indicate the PACE should be "junked immediately."
Schroeder heads the civil service subcommittee of the House Post Office-Civil Service Committee. She has written GAO director Elmer B. Staats asking that he release full details of the study. She has already scheduled hearings to begin April 10 on the validity of the PACE.
GAO officials refused to comment on the study. They say it is still at least 60 days from official release, although they agreed that Schroeder has been given a "detailed briefing" on the study. To complicate matters, the congressional watchdog agency has been subpoenaed for PACE data in connection with a suit (Luevano vs Campbell) filed in U.S. District Court here. It charges that the PACE exam discriminates against non-whites, and serves to exclude them from even being considered for federal employment.
GAO refused to confirm or deny specifics of the report pending its official release. But Schroeder says the data shows that 58 percent of all white test-takers studied got passing grades of 70 or better. Schroeder said the GAO report shows that only 12 percent of blacks passed it.
Federal job applicants are not required to list their race. But Schroeder said GAO obtained the racial information from social security records (which do list race) of individuals who took the test. The survey, sources say, included a random sample of "thousands" of recent PACE tests and test scores.
Since competition for the beginning federal professional jobs is so keen, a test score of 90 or better is a must for consideration. Schroeder said that 16 percent of the white applicants got scores of 90 or better, while less than 1 percent of the blacks who took it scored that high.