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Test Bias Essay

1596 words - 6 pages

In the helping professions such as psychology, counseling, social work and education, it is imperative that we as professionals understand tests and be able to administer them properly to our clients or students. Tests should be carefully selected, as each has a purpose and as we are aware, there are biases within various tests. A biased test is one in which there are methodical distinctions in the meaning of test scores correlated to different groups. Most tests are well-formulated; however none are absolute. Tests are often administered to make substantial conclusions that will affect the lives of the test-taker. The test-taker is unaware of these biases that are in favor of or in opposition of specific groups of people and the results could have a major effect on the test-taker.

Testing has become a major aspect of the American society. In academic settings, tests scores are used in determining if a student will graduate high school, selecting students for admission to college, placing students into special education, and various other reasons. Within the corporate arena, businesses may use testing to select individuals for job placement. In the United States, testing is inescapable, and test results could have an extensive influence on individuals.

Despite the commonality of testing there is a large discrepancy of results between individuals of certain races, social class, and geographical locations. It was previously suggested that the generous gap in test scores were due to differing educational systems, however researchers now seek other justifications. Is it possible that these tests are erroneous? Did they measure what they were intended to measure? Individuals in the field of education, who agree that individuals of certain races, social class, or geographical locations are being undereducated, argue that data shows that various groups of students are not learning, and that certain tests are prejudiced and biased.

When discussing biases in testing, intelligence tests are highly discussed especially when addressing cultural bias. Culture, which is defined as the belief systems and value orientation, including customs, norms, practices, and social institutions (Fiske, Kitayama, Markus, & Nisbett, 1998) has a significant influence on all aspects of the individual, and problems can occur with instruments that do not consider cultural differences (Whiston, 2009). Many researchers have studied cultural bias of intelligence tests as they relate to African-Americans. As known, many instruments including intelligence tests were designed to be administered to white or European Americans. Although cultural bias in testing does not focus only on African-Americans, it is one focus group.

Intelligence tests, which are also identified as cognitive ability and ability tests, are psychological tests that were created to calculate cognitive abilities, such as reasoning, comprehension and judgment. However, they are often affiliated with...

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