[EDEQUITY Assessment]Test bias to the economically advantaged.

From: Bauman; Raquel (rbauman@lhs.lowell.k12.ma.us)
Date: Fri Jan 18 2002 - 18:27:17 EST

This message is in reference to the EdEquity Expert Panel discussion on
December 10-14, 2001.

This discussion has long been over but the issue remains a pressing one.
I am not certain that you or other EdEquity members received my comments
here goes. . .Yes tests are biased toward the economically advantaged.
This has always been so. State tests are with us and are not going away
anytime soon. Educators, parents and other interested parties must
continue to demand quality, effective teaching for all students
regardless of their needs. State test might give us the leverage we need
to prove that until the material or skills are learned and made use of
teaching has not occurred. Every eighth grader must have at least a FOUR
YEAR PLAN completed before she leaves middle school. She must know
that she must be present, that she must earn enough credits not just to
graduate but also to get into college. She must know that she must pass
the MCAS OR TAAS or other state assessment, that scholarships and
loans rarely cover 100% of college costs no matter where she attends
college. The path through the academic system has never been easy for
students who have no history with it. Some people imagine that it has
become easier. I do not believe it has. Many students work full time to
help support families. This does not begin in grade 12. It often begins
while the student is still in middle school. Requiring that merit be
redefined so that it is not so closely linked to test scores is a step
in the right direction.

"Bauman; Raquel"

-----Original Message-----
From: Christina.Perez@phoenix.edc.org
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2001 4:11 PM

Hello all,

Sorry for my tardiness in posting these closing remarks. I'd like to
by thanking Hilandia for organizing this panel and inviting me to
participate. I also appreciate everyone's engagement with this issue,
whether you posted something yourself or simply read and thought about
others had to say. And I very much appreciate being on this panel with
Grayson, whose work puts in place authentic and substantial changes that
promote equity.

The past week at FairTest perfectly illustrates the ways that
tests impact equity at all levels of education. We sent a letter to
Florida decision makers (Governor, Board of Education, members of the FL
Senate Education Committee, members of the FL House Division of Colleges
and Universities, and others) calling their attention to the racial
disparities in who receives a Bright Futures scholarship. This is a
state-funded scholarship program that uses high school GPA and SAT or
scores to determine eligibility. The test score requirements result in
disproportionately few African American and Latino students receiving
of the awards (which are worth either 100% or 75% tuition at a state
university, or the equivalent amount at a private college), since
from these groups score on average substantially lower than Whites and
Asian Americans. So we've suggested that the state drop the test score
requirement and in its stead include criteria such as work experience,
teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities, and future goals.
Using such criteria is an important step in breaking the false notion
test score equal merit, as students are able to demonstrate other facets
their capabilities that better reflect their efforts and accomplishments
over four years of high school. If you want to read more about this
I encourage you to visit the FairTest website and read our press release
and accompanying letter at

The scholarship issue is a particularly disturbing one to me, and is
indicative of the troubling place standardized tests have come to occupy
American education. Over the last ten years, the amount of need-based
scholarship money nationally has increased by 100 percent. While that
sound impressive (and is certainly better than a decrease in money
awarded), it pales when compared with the increase in "merit-based"
scholarship awards (which use criteria such as GPA and test scores)
have grown by more than 500 percent. Not surprisingly, these awards are
going to those students who are more likely to go to college (and the
scholarship programs therefore are not pulling new students into the
education pipeline) and who are more likely to be able to afford

Shifts such as the types of scholarships awarded, the dramatic increase
high-stakes testing, and the backlash against affirmative action and
bilingual education in many states make me wonder what's been going on
the last ten years. Quite simply, it seems to me that somewhere along
way the educational system has lost its sense of compassion and equal
opportunity for all. We've stopped talking about public education as a
to level the playing field for all students, and instead have created
policies that make the playing field even more slanted. For example,
rewards tied to test scores (e.g. scholarship money or bonuses for
that do well on state exams) are meted out to students who tend to
be succeeding in the system. Yet the penalties tied to test scores
not receiving a high school diploma, being retained, or not getting in
college) fall heavily on the shoulders of students who already are
struggling to stay engaged and connected to the system. The penalties
with few supports for these students, so genuine gains in learning
elusive. The education bill's testing program that is about to be
in Congress and signed by the President will only exacerbate this trend
tenfold, I fear.

Rather than being discouraged by my perhaps gloomy message, I actually
that people reading this will not take this as a message of defeat but
rather as a call to action. I encourage you to get involved in the
of testing reform if you aren't already. And if you are already
away at your piece of the testing/equity puzzle, please keep up the good
work. Policies away from equal opportunity and a compassionate
system will only continue for as long as we let them.

Thanks for listening to my ranting and ravings. I hope we continue to
messages about testing on this listserv, since we live in a time when
impossible to talk about educational equity without also talking about
standardized testing.

Christina Perez
FairTest (christina@fairtest.org)
TERC (christina_perez@terc.edu)

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