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Why Public School Teachers Flunk - Cultural Bias

 
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peripatetic_soul



Joined: 20 Oct 2013
Posts: 292

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 3:45 pm    Post subject: Why Public School Teachers Flunk - Cultural Bias Reply with quote

Those who pursued a Foundations in Education course learned that standardized tests lack true validity and reliability because of inherent cultural biases. For one, the "representative sampling" for SATs was not representative of the general population, but instead, was comprised of upper middle class Caucasians in New England. I remember my professor cautioned teachers to put little stock in the Stanford-Binet (back in the 70s). To illustrate, the professor commented that just because an underprivileged child in an urban ghetto may not know what a VCR or a microwave is (talking of the 70s here) does not mean the child lacks intelligence. As cultural diversity increases in the U.S., standardized tests become even more flawed. Do you think they need to be revamped or eliminated?

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/when-teachers-flunk/ar-BBlO4sd?ocid=spartandhp

PS
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esl_prof



Joined: 30 Nov 2013
Posts: 2006
Location: peyi kote solèy frèt

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Why Public School Teachers Flunk - Cultural Bias Reply with quote

peripatetic_soul wrote:
To illustrate, the professor commented that just because an underprivileged child in an urban ghetto may not know what a VCR or a microwave is (talking of the 70s here) does not mean the child lacks intelligence.


In my state, even the mandatory test for English language proficiency is culturally biased. What would refugee kids, raised in the jungle, possibly know, for example, about using a library card? When I pointed that out at a parents' meeting, the school district's ELA administrator simply replied, "The test is fair and unbiased." Yeah, right.

I'd hesitate to say that standardized tests should be dispensed with completely, but they should be just one of several measures of student progress. Likewise, a lot more questions about bias need to be asked while said tests are being designed in the first place. And testmakers should be more transparent about what measures they are taking to reduced cultural bias and disclose what kinds of biases may be present in a test so that administrators and teachers can more readily evaluate students' scores in light of potential bias.


Last edited by esl_prof on Tue Aug 18, 2015 6:29 pm; edited 2 times in total
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 1186
Location: 24.18105,-103.25185

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Why Public School Teachers Flunk - Cultural Bias Reply with quote

peripatetic_soul wrote:
Those who pursued a Foundations in Education course learned that standardized tests lack true validity and reliability because of inherent cultural biases. For one, the "representative sampling" for SATs was not representative of the general population, but instead, was comprised of upper middle class Caucasians in New England. I remember my professor cautioned teachers to put little stock in the Stanford-Binet (back in the 70s). To illustrate, the professor commented that just because an underprivileged child in an urban ghetto may not know what a VCR or a microwave is (talking of the 70s here) does not mean the child lacks intelligence. As cultural diversity increases in the U.S., standardized tests become even more flawed. Do you think they need to be revamped or eliminated?

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/when-teachers-flunk/ar-BBlO4sd?ocid=spartandhp

PS


You would think after all these years these tests would be revamped. But as recently as 7 years ago I was administered standardized tests that were full of cultural assumptions - that there were books in the home, that there were 2 parents in the home (and of the same sex, to boot), that there was a dog or a cat, just so many things that seem like small details, but to poor - or even middle/upper middle class, but from a different culture - kids they would be confusing. Things that people take for granted in one culture. For example, I live in Mexico, my father is Mexican, and while my mother is Irish, we either lived in Mexico, or in Mexican neighborhoods in the US, all my life. Culturally, it is not expected that women change their last name when they get married, in fact, there is not even a legal way to do so. The only thing you can do is add your husband's last name. So my name could be Teresa Lopez de Rodriguez if I chose to go that route. However, that too, is pretty rare, about the only time you see that is in society people. So many people assumed I was not married when my son was born (in the US) because we didn't share the same last name, yet in Mexico my son carries both my last name and my husbands (Noe Rodiguez Lopez), also, I have been called Mrs. Rodriguez and my husband has been called Mr. Lopez. And it works both ways, I had a student in Mexico City who had some Canadian co-workers who got married, and he commented on it to me, and said, the woman changed her last name to that of her husband for some strange reason, and was surprised when I explained that it was not at all uncommon. But it seems foreign to me. That is just one small example. Not sure how the tests could be made culturally unbiased, as far as reading and writing sections go, math, science and history could be done, but yeah, I find them largely useless. I was always a good test taker and sometimes even scored well on things I had not covered. Some people aren't good test takers, or get nervous under pressure, or whatever, so I would usually take the results with a grain of salt, personally. I think a more valid general test of academic achievement is observed work, not sure why a test given on one single day is more important that a classroom teacher's observations over the course of many months.
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 1186
Location: 24.18105,-103.25185

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Why Public School Teachers Flunk - Cultural Bias Reply with quote

peripatetic_soul wrote:
Those who pursued a Foundations in Education course learned that standardized tests lack true validity and reliability because of inherent cultural biases. For one, the "representative sampling" for SATs was not representative of the general population, but instead, was comprised of upper middle class Caucasians in New England. I remember my professor cautioned teachers to put little stock in the Stanford-Binet (back in the 70s). To illustrate, the professor commented that just because an underprivileged child in an urban ghetto may not know what a VCR or a microwave is (talking of the 70s here) does not mean the child lacks intelligence. As cultural diversity increases in the U.S., standardized tests become even more flawed. Do you think they need to be revamped or eliminated?

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/when-teachers-flunk/ar-BBlO4sd?ocid=spartandhp

PS


You would think after all these years these tests would be revamped. But as recently as 7 years ago I was administered standardized tests that were full of cultural assumptions - that there were books in the home, that there were 2 parents in the home (and of the same sex, to boot), that there was a dog or a cat, just so many things that seem like small details, but to poor - or even middle/upper middle class, but from a different culture - kids they would be confusing. Things that people take for granted in one culture. For example, I live in Mexico, my father is Mexican, and while my mother is Irish, we either lived in Mexico, or in Mexican neighborhoods in the US, all my life. Culturally, it is not expected that women change their last name when they get married, in fact, there is not even a legal way to do so. The only thing you can do is add your husband's last name. So my name could be Teresa Lopez de Rodriguez if I chose to go that route. However, that too, is pretty rare, about the only time you see that is in society people. So many people assumed I was not married when my son was born (in the US) because we didn't share the same last name, yet in Mexico my son carries both my last name and my husbands (Noe Rodiguez Lopez), also, I have been called Mrs. Rodriguez and my husband has been called Mr. Lopez. And it works both ways, I had a student in Mexico City who had some Canadian co-workers who got married, and he commented on it to me, and said, the woman changed her last name to that of her husband for some strange reason, and was surprised when I explained that it was not at all uncommon. But it seems foreign to me. That is just one small example. Not sure how the tests could be made culturally unbiased, as far as reading and writing sections go, math, science and history could be done, but yeah, I find them largely useless. I was always a good test taker and sometimes even scored well on things I had not covered. Some people aren't good test takers, or get nervous under pressure, or whatever, so I would usually take the results with a grain of salt, personally. I think a more valid general test of academic achievement is observed work, not sure why a test given on one single day is more important that a classroom teacher's observations over the course of many months.
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peripatetic_soul



Joined: 20 Oct 2013
Posts: 292

PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 7:44 pm    Post subject: Why Public School Teachers Flunk - Cultural Bias Reply with quote

I definitely concur. I was thinking more about the ramifications for aspiring teachers who must take the state licensure exam. I think one of the examples cited in the article was knowing who Gloria Steinem is. As you mentioned, how would one growing up in a Mexican culture, for example, know who she is and how does that tap the ability to teach and be well versed in the designated content area? As the article also mentioned, teaching applicants, esp. in ESL and bilingual programs, may come from other countries so how fair are these "standardized" tests? Seems like a misnomer to me.


What's your consensus on a "standardized" test for public school teachers?

Cheers,
PS


Last edited by peripatetic_soul on Wed Aug 19, 2015 8:24 am; edited 2 times in total
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BadBeagleBad



Joined: 23 Aug 2010
Posts: 1186
Location: 24.18105,-103.25185

PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

By that I am assuming you mean a certification test. I have taken two, the Praxis and a state generated test. The Praxis, I have to say, isn't too bad, but the IL state one, at the time, was full of middle class type questions. And it isn't even a socio economic thing. I went to college with a girl whose parents were Indian, both doctors, she was US born, but they had no TV, she was only allowed to have friends her parents approved of (somehow I passed muster), lived in an almost entirely Indian neighborhood (the rest of the area was Hasidic Jews, go figure). So while she was highly educated, I bet her cultural norms weren't the same as mine, no where near. So while some of it is socio economic, I think, even for second generation kids from affluent families there is a huge cultural disconnect. Even for me, and I had friends from all over, there are whole fads and things I was never exposed to, or was never interested in. And having lived the largest part of my adult life in Mexico, I feel like the US is the foreign country, not Mexico. I don't really read US news, and am pretty ignorant of what is going on, aside from what is on the news here.
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RedLightning



Joined: 08 Aug 2015
Posts: 121
Location: United States

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is the answer then?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11505
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In my state, even the mandatory test for English language proficiency is culturally biased. What would refugee kids, raised in the jungle, possibly know, for example, about using a library card? When I pointed that out at a parents' meeting, the school district's ELA administrator simply replied, "The test is fair and unbiased." Yeah, right.


I suppose that the aim is to make a test that reflects the context the kids are assumed to be living and studying in. With eslprof's example above, any kid who messes up the library card question probably needs a catch-up unit or course.

But making assumptions based on last names, who constitutes a family, whether they watch tv, etc. should definitely be at least minimized. Classroom teachers do this in the real world of education with a fair degree of proficiency in most cases.

I suspect the tests don't go through a very rigorous process of real consideration by first-hand stakeholders. Like textbooks, they are far too subject to political views and processes which are actually at a remove from classrooms.

In a nutshell, some of the people in control of these things have agendas unrelated to learning, some mean well but are simply clueless, and some are going to make money on the process Rolling Eyes
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