Possible Sources Of Bias

Minority and other psychologists have expressed numerous concerns over the use of psychological and educational tests with minorities. These concerns are potentially legitimate and substantive but are often asserted as true in the absence of scientific evidence. Reynolds, Lowe, et al. (1999) have divided the most frequent of the problems cited into seven categories, described briefly here. Two categories, inequitable social consequences and qualitatively distinct aptitude and personality, receive more extensive treatments in the "Test Bias and Social Issues" section.

1. Inappropriate content. Tests are geared to majority experiences and values or are scored arbitrarily according to majority values. Correct responses or solution methods depend on material that is unfamiliar to minority individuals.

2. Inappropriate standardization samples. Minorities' representation in norming samples is proportionate but insufficient to allow them any influence over test development.

3. Examiners' and language bias. White examiners who speak standard English intimidate minority examinees and communicate inaccurately with them, spuriously lowering their test scores.

4. Inequitable social consequences. Ethnic minority individuals, already disadvantaged because of stereotyping and past discrimination, are denied employment or relegated to dead-end educational tracks. Labeling effects are another example of invalidity of this type.

5. Measurement of different constructs. Tests largely based on majority culture are measuring different characteristics altogether for members of minority groups, rendering them invalid for these groups.

6. Differential predictive validity. Standardized tests accurately predict many outcomes for majority group members, but they do not predict any relevant behavior for their minority counterparts. In addition, the criteria that tests are designed to predict, such as achievement in White, middle-class schools, may themselves be biased against minority examinees.

7. Qualitatively distinct aptitude and personality. This position seems to suggest that minority and majority ethnic groups possess characteristics of different types, so that test development must begin with different definitions for majority and minority groups.

Researchers have investigated these concerns, although few results are available for labeling effects or for long-term social consequences of testing. As noted by Reynolds, Lowe, et al. (1999), both of these problems are relevant to testing in general, rather than to ethnic issues alone. In addition, individuals as well as groups can experience labeling and other social consequences of testing. Researchers should investigate these outcomes with diverse samples and numerous statistical techniques. Finally, Reynolds et al. suggest that tracking and special education should be treated as problems with education rather than assessment.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment