what assessment bias is...
Example: Suppose a high stakes math test that must be passed contained a lot of word problems based on competitive sports examples that many more boys than girls were familiar with. The girls may have a lower performance than the boys because they are less familiar with the sports contexts of the word problems, not because they are less skilled in math (Popham 128).
An assessment can be biased if any of the content is deemed offensive to a subgroup of students. Offensiveness occurs when negative stereotypes of subgroups are presented in the test. Other types of offensiveness include slurs based on negative stereotypes about how members of an ethnic or religious group act.
- Example: Suppose in most test items in an exam, men are shown in high-paying, respectful careers, and women are portrayed in low-paying jobs. Many women would be offended by this and may perform less well than they normally would have (Popham 128-129).
Unfair penalization arises when a student's test performance is distorted because of content that, although not offensive, disadvantages the student because of the student's group membership (Popham 129)
It is important to understand that unfair penalization occurs when it is not the student's ability that causes low performance, but the student's group membership does (Popham 130).