Standardized test score differences not due to bias

Whenever standardized test results don’t produce the desired results, the immediate claim is that the tests are racially biased (“Success on the SHSAT is about reading, not race,” The New York Daily News, Oct. 12).  But a closer look at the issue reveals that the more likely cause is weak literacy.

That applies not only to items strictly assessing reading comprehension but also to items assessing math competency.  The reason is that the math section contains word problems that must be understood before students can determine the answer. Therefore, students who are poor readers will almost always perform badly.  These weak readers exist in all races, which explains why bias is not the cause of disappointing outcomes.

Nevertheless, we continue to hear that all standardized tests are racially biased when they don’t provide racially equal results.  The fact is that no standardized test can ever deliver what is hoped for.

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