In the image above, consider the question, student's response, and teacher's evaluation. This image, to me, represents many of the problems with assessments that are typical in today's educational landscape.
This image appeared recently on my social media feed. I don't know it's full origin. But I obtained it from @teacherman91 with the caption "Full or partial credit?" (For the record, I would grant "full credit.")
I wish that I had more information about the image, because so many questions come to mind:
- What is the curriculum program being used?
- How experienced is the teacher?
- What professional learning opportunities has the teacher been offered?
- How did other students in the class respond?
- What happened before and afterwards in the classroom?
By the same token, it doesn't really matter.
The following episode occurred at a meeting of a state committee in which I participated along with about 8 other educators. The committee's charge involved reviewing questions from the state standardized test that had been field-tested with a random sample of students in the state. We had been looking at the field-test statistics and had encountered a question on which students of color were performing significantly worse—obtaining a much lower percentage of deemed-correct responses—than their peers.
The teacher was perplexed.
"Can't you just tell me how much this question is biased?
“What is the number that shows how biased it is?" She was asking the statistician, who had been hired by the state to oversee the testing development and administration process.
We knew that the question performed differently for different groups. Students of color obtained a much lower percentage of deemed-correct answers than students from other demographic groups.
Because the groups were composed of different numbers of students, though, we couldn't make a simple and definite determination that the question was, in fact, biased.