Home | About | Donate

Standardized Tests are a Form of Racial Profiling


Standardized Tests are a Form of Racial Profiling

Christine Brigid Malsbary

Several days before writing this blog post, I visited a 12th grade class that I have been following since the beginning of their 11th grade year. I am a researcher and I study how education policy affects teachers and students in their daily lives. The youth I work with are all immigrants, students of color, and learning English as a second language. I sat next to student I didn’t recognize and asked the teacher who he was.


I agree with the consequences of standardized testing but am troubled by the implication of deliberate efforts to marginalize.Cultural narratives are often subconscious-social constructions of reality are not often critically examined by policymakers.


It IS quite deliberate, and for the reasons the author mentions. The education standards are used to maintain the status quo that privileges whites disproportionally. Just as few men have the sensitivity to examine their own sexism because misogyny is so entwined in culture, itself, few wish to examine the privileges that come with a dominant race defining what is of value and what can be measured and granted a fit score.

Did you read the concluding paragraphs? A pretty airtight case is made:

"Tests are a form of racial profiling because they provide a way for school districts and education reformers to frame black, brown and immigrant youth as “failing” and target the education services that these youth then receive. When a child’s knowledge, worth and assets are reduced to a test score, assumptions can be made about that child’s intelligence (and by extension the intelligence of the child’s racial group). The low-intelligence of people of color and immigrants is a regular trope in this country. The assumed superiority of the white brain means that we norm all “standards” (aka tests) to bizarre and out of touch expectations that only youth with an array of special services can pass."


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Be careful with that WE.

There is, after all, a WE subset that is boycotting the tests.

Then there is the WE subset that directly profits from these tests.

And then there is the larger WE at the center.... going along with "the program" but beginning to see that it hardly serves students of any color.

(Other "WE's" welcome, of course!)


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


The fact that she makes broad claims as declarative statements does not validate her conclusion. I am in fact surprised that she , as an academic with a supposedly scholarly voice, has taken a stance that she would have to defend as unbiased and supported by evidence. If she has examined the manner in which standardized tests are constructed, and the science behind this type of assessment, she would know that it is not a deliberate conscious effort to marginalize minorities, although (which is what I stated above), it CAN be motivated by inherent cultural biases that are not sufficiently examined (See Berger & Luckmann, 1966). And the consequences are every bit as damaging as though they were intentional. bear in mind, I am not saying that there is zero intentionality, there are plenty of racists out there.


You're just an apologist for Common Core or some other standardized testing program catapulting the propaganda (a la Bush) as standard talking points right here.

Like the dingbats who push for Charter Schools, I smell where you are coming from.

P.S. Your inner "Rush Limbaugh" is showing.


If this article was written in Alabama in the 50s it would be just ho-hum. But this is 2015 and "a postdoctoral fellow with the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation" just claimed that " people of color" are not capable to pass the same test that whites can, and we should "provide these youth with a different kind of test that more accurately assesses what they know and can do and is still rigorous and standards-based".



It's not appropriate to give those tests to anyone. Students are not taught what they really need to know and the tests give them false information about what is important. The tests are designed as a filter to determine who will pass into the upper and upper middle class.


The reason for that is that someone decided to teach the students how to pass the test instead of the actual subject matter.



Neither the title, nor her overarching conclusions are backed up by what she has actually written. Not all people of color speak English as a second language. Not all white people speak English as a first language.

She has built a decent case that standardized tests are hard for students who haven't been in the Unites States a long time...but that's about it.

The larger coalition that she seems to be trying to bring together isn't supported by what she has written.


Education is cumulative. The idea that an immigrant who only has three to four years of formal schooling can "catch up" is a resource drain that negatively impacts actual citizens who were born here. To say nothing of the fact that even after the outsized investment, many drop out because the challenge in a lot of cases is literally impossible.


This article confirms my fears - it is not these counterproductive federally mandated poor-school-and teacher punishing standardized tests that the intellectually lazy, anti-science USAn-liberal-left opposes - it is testing of all forms!

So we should just give degrees to the unqualified? How do you determine if a person has been actually educated except through testing? As was suggested by Cookie's remark, exit exams are the key part of almost all of the education systems in Europe which are manifestly superior to the US. Children from even the best US public schools moving from the US to the UK typically have to be set-back two grades! And in most areas of study, a Masters degree in the US is only equal to a bachelors degree in the UK.


And furthermore, a majority of most of the brightest students going on to universities in the UK and the US are immigrants for whom English is a recently learned second language - including Chinese for whom English is an extremely strange and difficult language. A majority of the engineering staff at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory are zeroth and first-generation immigrants!


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Testing is just an extension of the poison that is compulsory schooling, a product of Industrial Capitalism. Schools cripple our children and subdue them into submission to the status quo. Want a healthy world? End schools.


What exactly is the distinction between "standardized testing" and "plain old" testing? Is SAT or ACT a "standardized test? How about EIT/PE, medical board, or bar exams - are they "standardized tests"?

and it is not like achievement tests at certain grade intervals are anything new. I remember taking such tests every couple years through grade school in Fairfax County, Virginia back in the 1960's-70's nobody made a big deal about them.


High-stakes standardized tests are a form of socio-economic profiling, not just racial.


white and Asian students typically attend middle class schools

If Whites are just being racist, why would they allow Asians into White schools?
Wouldn't they try to marginalize Asians as well as other people of color?