Testing bias

Sep 13th, 2017

40% of 3rd graders in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Schools failed the state mandated “end of grade” reading proficiency test.

Here is a sample Section

Imagine for a second that you live in an apartment complex or public housing and you are trying to understand this example of fiction, and you have no idea what a hummingbird or a crane is.

  1. briand75
    Sep 14th, 2017 at 07:49

    I find the selection is amazing. Third graders are what – 8 yrs old? The subject matter as well as the questions seem more like 6th grade level. Maybe it’s just me. I have been out of school for many years.

    What is the best answer to the last question?

    • Fred Stiening
      Sep 14th, 2017 at 10:30

      The answers are at the end.

      I struggle with these types of tests as I get distracted (which is the purpose) by obviously untrue information. Cranes and hummingbirds do not have different habitats because of a fictional race.

      This is testing your ability to repeat untruthful information coming from an authority figure – not vocabulary, meaning of words and understanding context.

      Here is the list of all the sample questions for all grades / areas


      • briand75
        Sep 14th, 2017 at 11:09

        Agreed – disinformation for the sake of obfuscation. Tests that test: SAT, AP, etc. Tests that test your ability to take tests: GMAT and possibly this little gem 🙂

  2. TheChairman
    Sep 14th, 2017 at 13:08

    Fred, you’ve touched upon something that struck me when reading this piece… a focus on the words ‘race’ and ‘superior’. My answer for question #3 was A, based on paragraph 5… and I would argue that perhaps answers given by children may have been correct, and the test creator is warped. Besides, they plagiarized The Tortoise and the Hare.

    Multiple choice favors some and confuses others, too subtle/subjective for 3rd grade.

    • Fred Stiening
      Sep 14th, 2017 at 15:35

      The eighth grade non-fiction item is about the history of chocolate. It is heavily loaded with white European hegemony over the natives of the Western Hemisphere, and too many microaggressions to count. The swiss added milk to chocolate so lactose intolerant people of color woukd not steal the treat intended for royalty.


      Among the more challenging words and idioms…
      Stimulating, unpromising, treasure trove, regal importance, concoction, aristocracy, agreeable, acclaimed, mass production, hastened, mechanized, fondant, tropical, cultivation, equator, etc…

      The word “husbandry” had an asterisk and explanation in the event children might think the term was related to heterosexual patriarchy oppression.

      • Fred Stiening
        Sep 14th, 2017 at 15:50

        The original was written in 2008 or earlier. Here is the update in 2017


        Today’s website is full of buzzwords like sustainability, stakeholder, collective intent, public-private action

        • briand75
          Sep 15th, 2017 at 07:57

          Gall – lots of it. Today’s bunch of bedwetters is just about to make my head explode (homage to the old Glenn Beck). Could someone stop these morons from rewriting history? Last I checked, this isn’t the Eastern Bloc.

      • CC1s121LrBGT
        Sep 15th, 2017 at 05:32

        > “The swiss added milk to chocolate so lactose intolerant people of color woukd not steal the treat intended for royalty.”

        Maybe next year we will see a hurrucane Irma story of how decedents of white European hegemony in Miami had put bars over their windows so that people of color would not steal from them ?

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