Black educators say they may go to court to test the validity of standardized tests even if the NCAA eliminates or modifies the portion of a new rule requiring minimum scores on such tests for first-year athletic eligiblity.
"Proposition 48 (as the new NCAA rule is known) is a triggering mechanism, bringing about awareness of a more general issue," said Samuel Meyers, directors of the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). "It brings to the floor a broader issue that affects not only blacks, but others from a culture that is not along the lines of the predominant culture.
"We want to look at the broader implications, and they're much broader than Proposition 48. We want to be pro-active rather reactive. We want to do something not only for blacks, black at white institutions and black athletes, but do something to strengthen the underpinnings of these United States."
The black educators contend that standardized tests are culturally biased and discriminate against the black, Hispanic, rural and others from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The president of the Education Testing Service, which administers the SAT, said recently that using the test score as an absolute to determine first-year eligibility, as the new rule does, is not the best idea.
Other standardized test issues include the use of the National Teacher Exam to certify college teachers, especially in Florida and Louisiana, and the use of tests to determine entrance to professional and graduate schools. Blacks received a setback in the 1979 Alan Bakke decision, a reverse discrimation case involving a double standard for evaluating the results of standardized tests for medical school admission.
"In many ways, we blew that one," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of Operation PUSH. "We do not want it to happen again."
At its regular board meeting Wednesday in Atlanta, NAFEO decided to ask the NCAA for evidence that it will eliminate the standardized test requirement from Proposition 48. The NAFEO also asked its legal counsel, Herbert O. Reid of Howard University, to study the legal implications and strategy for invalidating standardized test scores in the courts. He will be assisted by legal counsel from Operation PUSH and the NAACP.
"We intend to develop immediately a position paper for public relations and educational purposes, and as a predicate to a suit," Reid said yesterday. "If matters stand as they do now, we have to rectify it by judicial intervention."
Proposition 48, which takes effect for the 1986-87 academic year, requires a minimum score of 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test or 15 on the American College Test, and a 2.0 average on a 4.0 scale on a core curriculum of 11 academic courses in high school, including three years of math and two years of English.
The ad hoc athletic committe of the American Coucil on Education, which drafted and pushed passage of Proposition 48 at the NCAA convention in San Diego last month, has not met or taken a position since the convention. In a recent interview, Fred Davison, the president of the University of Georgia and a member of the committee, said, "If the standard is abridged, you have gutted the objective ... A standard has to be put into effect not for our sake, but for kids who are being wasted in high school."
A few blacks, including Harry Edwards, a professor at Cal-Berkeley, favor all parts of Propostion 48, because they contend that it will eliminate the tunnel vision of high-school athletes, who dream of big money in professional sports, are nt encouraged by high school coaches in academic pursuits and have nothing to fall back on once their athletic eligibility is finished. CBS News projected recently that only 35 of this season's 400,000 male high school basketball players will paly in the NBA.