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Academic Test Bias

  • By: Ross E. Mitchell & Stephanie W. Cawthon
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

The claim that a test of academic achievement is biased is often equated with the claim that the test is unfair. From the perspective of Deaf Studies, the bias or unfairness charge typically depends on the examinee’s identity or status group—that a test is seen to favor hearing examinees and disadvantage Deaf examinees. A commonly cited example is when a test includes an item that depends on distinguishing or recognizing sounds in order to answer it correctly. Though such items are rare, they tend to exhibit unequal group-based performance: Hearing examinees outperform Deaf examinees. This group-based difference may signal bias, which points to measurement concerns. Where such a test is used to select, place, or certify examinees, this group-based difference in performance may have an ...

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