Many examples can be given for the biases in testing based on culture. Cultural biases have been in testing as long as testing has been around, whether intentional or not. With each passing year, however, it seems that cultural bias is more examined and those who create the tests are using stricter guidelines to insure that the tests they create are not biased towards one student more than another. For example, in New York City, students were given a question asking, “what were ways the British improved the lives of Africans?
” it was prefaced with a passage from 1922 stating “We are endeavoring [trying] to teach the native races to conduct their own affairs with justice and humanity, and to educate them alike in letters and in industry…”. This testing question has a clear cultural bias and shows “outright racism” according to one parents group (Rammohan, 2007). It’s ridiculous that questions like this are still showing up in standardized testing at all. Although, imperialism should be taught, it could have been presented in a less biased way.
Jay Rosner in On White Preference from The Nation states another example of bias towards white students over others, “On the October 1998 SAT, for example, every single on of the 138 questions (sixty math and seventy-eight verbal) favored whites over blacks. By favoring whites, I mean that a higher percentage of white than black students answered correctly every question pre-screened and chosen to appear on that SAT…SAT forms are designed to very strongly correlate with one another. And the pattern I’ve identified is a predictable result of the way the tests are constructed.
Latino test-takers are similarly affected, faring only a bit better than blacks. ” Obviously, test takers are being gypped when it comes to standardized testing, and the tests are being biased towards white students. This example of white students performing better on all 138 pre-screened questions gives the indication that the system that is used to screen questions is in and of itself, biased, and therefore, in need of examination. Rosner goes on to give another example of the biases of test creators.
On a pre-testing question where minority students actually performed better than white students, the question was thrown out, an obvious example of bias towards white students. Interestingly enough, Rosner’s entire reason for looking into the SAT and other standardized testing questions formulated by the ETS, the Educational Testing Service, was due to the fact that white students had filed a suit against the University of Michigan because they were allowing black students into the college with a lower SAT score and not accepting white students who may have a higher score.
While it does not show test bias, it’s an interesting example of how the colleges may be cognizant of testing bias and how they are trying to rectify the discrepancies, i. e. allowing minority students who may have a lower SAT score into the college. As stated by Rosner, there is in fact, a twenty percent gap in performance on standardized testing between white students and minority students, displaying bias on the part of the ETS as their company formulates and screens questions before putting them onto the tests (Rosner, 2003).
If they were, in fact, unbiased, why did they not allow the question where black students performed better than white? If they had allowed the question, then maybe we could state that they were at least making an effort towards being unbiased regarding test formulation and administration, unfortunately, all actions point to the contrary. As long as those formulating the tests are using biased criteria, our tests will continue to be biased and white students will continue to perform better than minority students.
References Rammohan, Yasmin Tara. (9 May 2007). Advocates say standardized tests often flunk cultural bias scrutiny. Medill Reports Chicago. Retrieved from http://news. medill. northwestern. edu/chicago/news. aspx? id=35935. Rosner, Jay. (27 March 2003). On white preferences. The Nation. Retrieved from http://www. thenation. com/doc/20030414/rosner.
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