Minimizing Bias and Student Diversity in Assessment Term Paper

  • Length: 4 pages
  • Sources: 4
  • Subject: Education: Multiculturalism
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #19434182

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Abstract



No teacher can entirely avoid the realities of student standardized assessment. But teachers must make informed choices in the classroom in regards to how students are instructed, based upon individual student needs and awareness of student diversity. There are significant questions regarding the potential biases of many standardized tests, particularly in regards to historically discriminated-against racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups. Teachers must be aware of these questions and biases and act as advocates for their students on a schoolwide and statewide level to ensure fairness.



Ethical Standards in Assessment:

Minimizing Bias and Student Diversity in Assessment



Education is supposed to be a great social leveler. Unfortunately, many concerns have been raised regarding the ability of commonly-used educational assessment tools to provide unbiased information about all students, regardless of students’ demographic characteristics. Teachers must balance the need to prepare students for these highly pressured exam environments with the need for individual instruction and assessment. They must also be aware of the potential concerns raised about such exams in the literature and how to address them.



Needs Assessment



According to the mandatory Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (2015), educators must have a strong sense of mission and values, adhere to educational norms, and be responsive to student needs, including needs for diversified instruction and individual assessment. Yet standardized assessment is often an inevitable part of every educator’s required performance objectives. According to Standard 4: “Effective educational leaders develop and support intellectually rigorous and coherent systems of curriculum, instruction, and assessment to promote each student’s academic success and well-being” (p.1) Historically, according to the literature, many forms of standardized assessments have found to be inadequate in the manner in which they address student diversity.



As noted by Kruse (2016), cultural bias can be expressed on standardized exams based upon results, including “significantly different results for definable subgroups from apparently similar ability levels” as well as “issues with the fair and equitable interpretation and use of test results” (p.23). Cultural biases can include the use of language or references which certain socio-economic groups may be less likely to be exposed to outside of class or unrepresentative reading passages which may generate a sense of exclusion. Teachers must first act as advocates for students if they feel students are being subjected to unfair assessments. They must also strive to use as unbiased materials as possible to facilitate learning not simply for the test but to support student learning in general.



This is in keeping with the other standards articulated in Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (2015), which stress inter-professional collaboration with other instructors to more accurately understand student needs and why deficiencies may be exhibited within certain populations. Also, as noted in the Standards for Advanced Programs in Educational Leadership, (2002), families and communities should also be engaged. If there are concerns about student achievement, parents should be solicited to determine the possible cause of such issues, beyond purely looking at assessment results. Assessments, both standardized and teacher-generated, only paint a picture of student achievement during a narrow point in time. This should limit their use for determining a students’ long-term future. They should be used for informative results, not pass judgement on students, particularly given the absence of any perfect test to fully render an objective judgement about a student. Qualitative as well as quantitative assessments should be used.



Focus Areas of Need



According to Evans (2013), along with an assessments’ validity and reliability, fairness is a critical component in evaluating the ability of an assessment such as a standardized or in-class exam to produce a useful and accurate portrait of student achievement. Cultural biases act as an impediment to this. “Cultural sensitivity is more about including content, scenarios, and contexts that are relevant to people from all sorts of different backgrounds and perspectives” and rather than simply including diverse materials, it must be subject to “rigorous reviews during large-scale assessment development, often including the use of rubrics and checklists” (par. 6). In other words, it is…

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