Bias can be present [in standardized tests] but not be detected by even the top experts in the field.
Posted Aug 03 2010 5:50pm
Overturning more than 40 years of accepted practice, new research proves that the tools used to check tests of "general mental ability" for bias are themselves flawed. This key finding from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business challenges reliance on such exams to make objective decisions for employment or academic admissions even in the face of well-documented gaps between mean scores of white and minority populations.
The study, published in the July issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, investigated an amalgam of scores representing a vast sample of commonly used tests, including civil service or other pre-employment exams and university entrance exams.
"Test bias" means that two people with different ethnicity or gender, for example, who have the same test score are predicted to have different "scores" on the outcome (e.g., job performance); thus a biased test might benefit certain groups over others. Decades of earlier research consistently found no evidence of test bias against ethnic minorities, but the current study challenges this established belief.