Over the course of the last few years there have been more and more calls to remove or lower standards. The reason most often given is that the results of standards is not equitable.
The math goes something like this. If you have a 1000 people/institutions being tested and the break down of that population is 597 Pink, 186 Blue, 126 Cyan, 59 Green and 32 purple and you give a standardized test that is suppose to select the 100 best you would expect to get 60 Pink, 19 Blue, 13 Cyan, 6 Green and 2 purple.
If that standardized test instead gives you 65 Pink, 16 Blue, 5 Cyan, 9 Green and 2 purple something is wrong.
This is the problem. What happens if the Pink group consistently scores better than expected and the Green group as well. Regardless of the sample size or when the sample is picked in less random ways. What does it mean when the sample is skewed to have more Cyan and less Pink and still the Pink dominate those being chosen as best?
What does it mean?
In one sample, of nearly 400, there were 35 Pink, 364 Cyan, 1 purple. When standards were used to select “best” 29 Pink, 1 Cyan were picked as “best”.
Is the test biased to the Pink group?
Well the answer is often times “yes, it is biased.” But not based on color. It is based on objective measurements. It turns out that different groups value different things at different levels. Because of this differentiation different groups perform better when objectively measured.
Standards must be evaluated to see if they have a bias. If a test is asking about history and it focuses on the civil war students that live in the south are more likely to do better than people in the north. If on the other hand it focuses on the revolutionary war, people in the north are more likely to do better. Because of this, having tests with an unbalanced focus can result in unbalanced, biased, results.
What we know is that certain groups score better on standardized tests and when judged by objective standards. A standard that requires a certain number of pull ups in a given time, humping a certain amount of weight a specific distance or height will show a bias towards males over females.
Does this mean that females can’t meet those requirements? No, it doesn’t.
One of my younger friends was over along with his wife. His wife was in the US Army and was talking up how well they had done in PE and how much they could lift. This women was strong. She was in great shape. She is showing me her bicep development and is telling me to squeeze it to see just how strong she was.
I did. I’m old. I’m fat. I’m out of shape. I did squeeze. And she was on her knees squealing in pain. My hand grip is a little more than she expected. I knew this. So the first squeeze was gentle. She demanded that I actually squeeze. Nobody had ever actually done that to her. I’m an ass. I know this too. I showed her that there was a difference.
She was by and far the most physically fit and strong woman I’ve ever met. She was the best in her unit, all females. She looked down at the “soft bodies” of the other women in her unit that didn’t even try to meet male standards. She still wasn’t as strong as an old man. (Ok, sneaky old man, I do know where all those pressure points are.)
Unfortunately, bias is sometimes required. If what you are looking for is the best students you are going to be looking for students with good scores in standardized tests as well as good grades. If one group doesn’t perform as well as another group they are not going to be represented within the selected group at the same rate as in the applicants or population at large.
Consider Nobel prizes, Israel has 12(13?), Egypt which is larger in size and population has 4, Turkey 2, Iraq 1, Iran 1, Palestine 1, Yemen 1. 12 v. 10? Why? Is there discrimination based on religion for Nobel prizes? Or is there a cultural difference?
Source: Nobel Prize Winners By Country Wikipedia claims Isreal has 13, WorldAtlas says 12.
Should Israel have been denied Nobel prizes until the Muslim countries have received their “fair share” of Nobel prizes?
This has moved into education in a huge way. I’ve watched our local gifted and talented program be destroyed. It doesn’t exist any longer as it wasn’t fair. Having all those smart kids, all from the same cultural group be pulled out of class harmed those that didn’t meet the standards. They modified the standards three or four times and kept ending up with the same group of smart kids. Until they removed standards and it was “who wants to join this club?”
We saw it when magnet schools stopped using standardized criteria and suddenly had students that were just not as good.
Now we have this from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Philadelphia school board Thursday night began a process to pull the charters of three schools it cited for academic, operational, and financial flaws.
They accused the district of using an unfair evaluation process that had resulted in the closures of a disproportionate number of Black-led charters — both Laboratory and Southwest Leadership Academy have Black leaders — and board members of ignoring the needs of Black communities.
— Philly board moves to close 3 charters amid allegations of bias against Black-led schools
Once again, standards are under attack as being racist. We didn’t get equality of outcome so the standards used must be biased.
This totally ignores the possibility that it could be something else. Especially as there are operational and financial flaws listed.
How come the other charter schools can meet the standards but these schools can’t?
We don’t know, it is just easier to scream “RACIST!” and leave it at that.
UPDATED: Spelling/grammar fixes.