Reading Reflection #3: Bias, Directions

Ch5 p. 135-136 #1: If you were asked to support a high school graduation test you know would result in more minority than majority youngsters being denied a diploma, could you do it? If so, under what circumstances?

To adequately answer this question, I would first look at the test to see why it would result in more minorities being denied a diploma. Is this outcome being expected because the test contains bias against minorities? Does it contain language and questions that one group of people would better relate to than another? If the answers to these questions continue to be “yes”, then I would not support that high school graduation test. The next step would probably be to talk to my administration and present my opinion. Hopefully they would have ears to listen and then the necessary changes could then be implemented. I think that a challenge would occur if this test were a statewide requirement because the powers that be would be much harder to get a hold of. On the other hand, after careful study of the test, what if no biases were found? If the students have been correctly taught the information but choose not to utilize it, then that is on the student’s shoulders. Under these circumstances, I think that it would be completely fine for students to take this test. However, it seems like this is a fine line that is being walked on between the existence of bias and the absence of bias. I think that the answer is for testing specialists to devote time and effort into taking these tests apart piece by piece, and teachers also need to be aware of these circumstances.

#5: What is your view about how much effort a classroom teacher should devote to bias detection and bias elimination?

I think that teachers should put a great deal of effort into bias detections and bias elimination. America is a diverse nation, and our schools hold so many different groups of people. All students should have an equal opportunity to do well on a test. If a student does badly on an assessment, if should not be because of any bias in the classroom. I think that this starts with teachers being aware of their classroom and unassuming of their students. It takes time and effort to go over assessment devices with a fine-tooth comb, but it is well worth it. If teachers truly want their students to succeed, then they need to give them every possible opportunity to do so. Bias detection and bias elimination is going to help students reach the high expectations that teachers are laying before them; why wouldn’t teachers want to put effort towards that?

#6: What kind of overall educational assessment strategy can you think of that might make the testing of students with disabilities more fair? How about LEP students?

When discussing the educational assessment strategies that teachers should take concerning students with disabilities, I think that it is important to make sure that the assessments are still aligned with the curricular goals for the rest of the class. The text made an important point about the testing of students with disabilities by explaining that teachers need to understand that “…the education of all but a very small group of those children must be aimed at precisely the same curricular targets as the curricular targets teachers have for all other students” (Popham, 2011, p. 124). I believe that educators easily fall short in this area and lower the classroom expectations for students with disabilities or LEPs because they do not want those students to fail. I would challenge teachers to develop assessments that allow for flexibility in it’s implementation, but the different forms would still align with the overall curricular goals. I think that formative assessment lends a helping hand to educators with this challenge. Formative assessment would allow teachers to have the same end goal to an assessment, but have different forms  it comes in that would work for students with disabilities and LEPs. I think that the word “fair” is a really hard thing to reach in education. Honestly, it is not all “fair”.  If all students are given the same test across the board, then it is not fair for students with learning disabilities and LEPs. If some students are given one test and then other students are given a different tests with accommodations that is also technically not fair. I think that we should move away from the focus being on fairness and move it towards answering the question, “How are all of my students learning and growing?”

#7: Can bias in educational assessment devices be totally eliminated? Why or why not?

I believe that steps to eliminate bias in educational assessment devices should always be taken. Since we live in a broken world with flawed humans running things, I honestly do not know if bias will ever be totally eliminated. On the other hand, I do think that we can get pretty close. The more effort that teachers, administration, and assessment specialists put into eliminating bias, the better assessment is going to be. Since society is always changing and growing, I think that it is a bit unrealistic to say that we can eliminate bias both now and forever more.  The text said that the more that teachers work to become “sensitive to the existence of assessment bias and the need to eliminate it”, the closer that we will come to the end goal (Popham, 2011, p. 119). Do I think that we will reach that goal and stay there? No, but do I think that an effort to reach that goal will be highly effective in changing student’s lives for the better? Yes.

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