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Criticisms Of testing and Test Bias

Invasion Of Privacy

Whether tests represent an invasion of privacy depends in part on how they are used. There is no invasion of privacy when subjects are told how test results will be used and then volunteer.

The code of ethics of the American Psychological Association(APA) states the following: Psychologists have a primary obligation to respect the confidentiality of information obtained from persons in the course of their work as psychologists. They reveal such information to others only with the consent

of the person or the persons legal representative, except in those unusual circumstances in which not to do so would result in clear danger to the person or to others. When appropriate, psychologists inform their clients of the legal limits of confidentiality.(APA, 1981, 635-636)

The probability of invading privacy is high whenever testing or measurement is designed for the benefit of someone other than the person being tested or observed. Teachers who administer test to their students solely to gather information for a professional paper, thesis, or disertation may well be encroaching upon the rights of

their students to privacy unless they obtain the informed consent of the participants, their parents and school authorities. In 1974 the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act ( The Buckley Amendment) legislated the rights of parents to inspect and review the education record of their children

The Buckley Amendment makes the following points: No student shall be required to submit to psychiatric or psychological examination, testing, or treatment, in which the primary purpose is to reveal information concerning: 1 Political affilation

2 Mental and psychological problems potentially embarrassing to the student and his or her family. 3 Sex behavior and attitudes 4 Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating and demeaning behavior. 5 Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationship.

6 Income (other than that required by Law to determine eligibility fo financial assistance. The implications of the Buckley Amendment might be far reaching indeed. 1 Teachers cannot postgrades of students. 2 Teachers cannot display the works ofstudents.

3 Teachers cannot permit students to grade or correct any other students paper. 4 Teachers cannot ask students to raise their hands if they responded correctly or incorrectly to any item. 5 Teachers cannot distribute testpapers in any manner that permits other students to observe the scores of their classmates.

6 Teachers cannot assume that letters or recommendation requested by students will be kept confidential. Are Art teachers violating the law when student drawings are displayed. Can English teachers no longer read student compositions to the class.

Are Arithmetic and Mathematics teachers in violation of the law when they asked students to solve problems at the blackboard in view of the other students. Are oral reports illegal.

Tests Create Anxiety and Interfere with Learning

A common criticism of tests is that they create anxiety and thus interfere with learning. Studies have shown that about 60%-75 % of students are not affected by anxiety. An excellent summary of how tests affect students(Kirkland 1971) are as follows:

1 Mild degree of anxiety usually facilitate learning, whereas high anxiety levels hinder learning in most instances. 2 The less able student incurs a higher level of test anxiety than the more capable one. 3 Being familiar with the type of test to be administered reduces test anxiety.

4 High anxious students do better than less anxious ones on tests measuring rote recall: they perform less well, however, on tests requiring flexibility in thought. 5 Test anxiety increases with grade level. 6 Although no relationship appears to exist between sex and anxiety among elementary school children, junior high school girls indicate that they experience more anxiety

Motivating students without creating anxiety

Emphasize tests for diagnosis and mastery rather than as a mean of punishing students who fail to live up to the expectations of teachers or parents. Avoid the sudden death examination in which passing or failing is a function of performance on only one test, such as a final examination.

Avoid paraphrasing letter grade, instead tell students what they do know and what they need to learn to improve.(Krampen,1987) Be sure each item has face validity, that is, it measure some important aspect of life as perceived by the students. Avoid unannounced examination,

Schedule personal conferences with students as often as necessary to reduce anxiety and to redirect learning. Avoid invidious comparisons among students. Emphasize student strengths, not deficiencies.

De-emphasize the role of competitive examinations when some students are unable to compete. Treat each students grades and records confidentially. Allow students to choose among activities of equal instructional value.

Prepare students to take examinations by providing them with pretests, which they can complete and score on their own. Teach students how to take examination and how to prepare for them. Provide opportunities for students to improve their grades through retesting after they have mastered course content.

Dont overemphasize the importance of any one test. Remind students that tests are a part of learning that can provide feedback and guidance to help them improve. Give test relatively often to reduce the effects that any single test might have. If possible, test content should be cumulative throughout the semester or year.

Make sure that students have plenty of time to complete the test if it is designed as a power test.

Tests Categorize Students

If educational and psychological tests are misused, they do much to permanebtly scar some pupils by rigidly categorizing or pigeonholing them by allowing the teachers to use these classification relentlessly. If they know that a childs IQ score is low, some teachers may decide that the child is unteachable and may assign menial tasks to keep that student occupied.

Tests Penalize Bright and Creative Students

in the Tyranny of Testing (1962) Banesh Hoffmann, a theoretical Physicist, argues that, the tests deny the creative person a significant opportunity to demonstrate his creativity and favor the shrewd and facile candidate over the one who has something to say.

Test Bias
One of the most persistent and serious allegations against tests is they discriminate against minorities as African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Tests failed to consider the childrens background in language , motivation and they are denied admission because of unfair tests and testing practices.

A test is biased against ethnic minorities if it: Fails to eliminate realistic socioeconomic differences. Yields differences in average scores between groups. Contains content that facilitates the performance of one group over another.

Predicts different success rates between groups. Leads to different social consequences between groups.

Socioeconomic bias. Average score bias Content bias Success bias Social consequence bias

Ethical Testing Practices

1 Informing students in advance that they are about to take a standardized test and telling them something about the nature of the test. 2 Teachers should feel free to explain the mechanics of taking a standardized test. 3 Encouraging students to do well as they can is perfectly as long as they are not threatened or made anxious about their

4 Keeping all standardized test materials secure before, during and after the examination is essential. 5 Combining classes for testing is ethical as long as there is and adequate number of proctors to safeguard the test. 6 Once an examination has been administered and scored, teachers may examine results and determined areas of

Unethical Testing Practices

1 Teachers should not tutor on the specific subject matter of an expected examination. Such coaching destroys the standardized procedures of test administration, makes scores uninterpretable, and wastes students time. 2 Teachers should not examine the content of standardized tests to determine what is to be taught in the classroom.

3 Teachers should not use standardized test items on their own examination. 4 Teachers should not try to improve student performance by developing items that parallel those on standardized tests, nor should teachers administer a second form as a part of its testing program.

5 Excluding some students from participating in districtwide testing is unethical. 6 Neglecting the instruction of any student for the purpose of increasing test score of other pupils is unethical. 7 Altering in any way the directions, time limits, and scoring procedures of any standardized test is unethical.

8 Creating anxiety and rivalry about standardized tests among students and between classes or schools is unethical.