Absence-of-Bias is just as the name implies, there is no bias present. It is the last of the three essential criteria for evaluating educational assessments. The other two are reliability and validity. Assessment bias is a part of an assessment that disadvantages a certain group of people because of their gender, race, socioeconomic status, or any other group-defining characteristic. It occurs when an element of an assessment “distorts a student’s performance”(Popham 2014 p.128). The initial judgments that a teacher makes can be extremely important considering the future success of the student (Blankenship, Hubbard, Johnson, 2009). Educators need to recognize so that they can free their tests of as much bias as possible.
Offensiveness is the first form of assessment bias. It occurs when an element of an assessment is offensive to a group. Offensiveness happens when a negative stereotype is presented in an assessment. Not only can this affect one question, but also it will distract the student for the remainder of the assessment and have a negative affect on the student’s abilities. The student might become distraught enough to answer incorrectly or not to the best of their abilities. Students become so offended that they forget about doing their best on the test and focus on how offensive the test is. Other offensive content includes blatant or implied slurs based on stereotypical behavior of certain groups. Most national tests employ people to care of this problem, classroom teachers often do not realize that their tests are offensive until it is too late. (Popham, 2014, p.128-129)
Unfair penalization is the second form of assessment bias. It occurs when the content of the question is not offensive but places the student at a disadvantage because of his or her group membership. Popham gives an example of a problem in which the content focuses on local operas that only students with high socioeconomic status can afford. Students with less affluent parents will not be able to answer the question as well as the richer students if they can answer the question at all. Students that are unfamiliar with the opera will be unfairly penalized. (Popham, 2014, p. 129-131)
Teachers must remember that different cultures react differently to authority figures. For example, Arab American students have hard times following female leadership because they are not used to female authority figures. Another example is that American Indian or Native Hawaiian students do not respond well to competition because “their cultures emphasize cooperation and collaboration” (Blankenship, Hubbard, Johnson, 2009).
A disparate impact refers to assessment items that appear to be unbiased that produce a disproportional result from certain groups of peoples. Because an assessment item produces a disparate impact does not necessarily mean that the test is biased. Questions cannot be thrown out because of...