Fairness and Equity Considerations When Creating and Administering Assessments: Part 3

Thursday, May 30, 2013 -- Shane Dennison

Encourage all levels of educators and standardized assessment creators to abide by ‘fairness and equity considerations’. 

We need to urge all professional education organizations to embrace fair assessment practices. Some organizations have already done so according to ‘practice statements’ they have released, but many more have not. As the release of Common Core assessments grows nearer, many educators will be required to take a closer look at their own internal assessment practices and see where there is room for improvement. Hopefully, educators will adhere to fair and equitable assessments practices during this transition.

When we see unfair or unjust assessment practices or issues with assessment (especially high-stakes exams), we need to speak up and reach out to the sponsors of those exams and offer to help them identify and resolve issues. Participating in research when possible is another great way to encourage fair assessment practices. Creating fairer assessment tools is not something that always has to be looked at from a ‘macro’ level. Teachers at all levels can utilize the current research available to ensure that their classroom, school, and district assessments are fair and equitable to all students.

Where do we begin?

Sharing what we know and what we come across is paramount. Start by sharing such research and methods with fellow disciplinary and grade level teachers. Next, share fair and equitable assessment checklists with your department and entire school. Ask your school administrators to share such checklists with principals and teachers from other schools within the district. These are great steps towards putting a lot of the great research we know is already out there into actual practice. Those who work at the post-secondary level have a unique opportunity of placing research around fair and equitable assessments into the hands and minds of those faculty members who are responsible for releasing young educators into K-12 classrooms.

Newer rubric and electronic portfolios are coming onto the scene each year. Such tools can be easily adapted in ways that make assessments as fair and equitable as possible for all students. It is important for young educators to learn fair and equitable assessment practices early on during their post-secondary education so they will not have to “unlearn’ less desirable assessment practices after they have started their careers in the field.