Alabama education officials say the state has taken a large step toward reinstating federally mandated subject matter tests for new teachers.
Alabama has been unable to give such tests since the 1980s, when a lawsuit was filed claiming the tests were racially biased, but attorneys for the state and the people who filed the suit say they agreed this week on a new court order.
The new order is needed because the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires teachers to be "highly qualified'' in the subjects they teach.
The order still must be approved by the state school board, the people who sued the state, the attorney general and Gov. Bob Riley, but a lawyer for the Education Department says that's a formality.
If approved by everyone, the test would be given as soon as it can be created, estimated to be about 12 to 15 months.