Test Bias

By Kelly Martinek, Kendall Hitch and Esther Seawell

The ACT is inarguably one of the most important tests of a student’s high school career.
But what people do argue on is whether or not the ACT is biased.
In a survey conducted by the Highlander, 81% of people answered that they were an English/Social Studies learner as opposed to a Math/Science learner. Students that are not as advanced in math often feel that they are unprepared.
“I do think it’s unfair because by the time I took it for the second time, I still had not learned all the math on it and I’m in regular math for a junior,” junior Gabrielle Dulberg said. “They expect us to know math that we never learned.”
The ACT website reinforces the idea that anything on their test is something students should learn in school.
“The test questions on the ACT are directly related to what you have learned in your high school courses in English, mathematics, reading, and science,” ACTstudent.org said on their website. “Every day you attend class you are preparing for the ACT. The harder you work in school, the more prepared you will be for the test.”
A way to try to get a better score is by hiring a tutor or taking the ACT multiple times.    However, this option is not available for all students.
According to a student rights group, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, outcomes of standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT are often directly correlated to family income.
“A lot of it depends on your economic situation. And if you can’t afford to take the test a lot of times or to get a tutor, you don’t have as much room for improvement,” junior Olivia Ruiz said. “Plus, if you don’t go to a really nice school your chances of doing well on the ACT and getting into a good college are decreased.”
According to Seaholm Principal Dee Barash, the students that typically do not perform as well on the ACT are not only those with lower social economic status, but are also minority students and students with special needs.
“Those very subgroups are the ones where we tend to have an achievement gap,” Barash said.
However, on the ACT website, they self-reported that low income high school students that graduated high school in 2012 were 15-21% less ready for college than their peers.
But some survey respondents reported believing the ACT is impartial.
“The ACT has little/no bias,” one anonymous survey respondent said. “People just get pissed when they find out that they’re not smart.”
Regardless of bias, the ACT is here to stay. For now, some may just have an easier time than others.

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