Closing the Gap Without Lowering the Bar
• What: Testing protocol which requires students to fill in information regarding race, gender, and parent education levels before test, can unintentionally cause students to think about negative stereotypes of groups they belong to and consequently perform lower. A small alteration to testing procedures-- placing demographic questions at the end of standardized tests rather than at the beginning-- can reduce the impact of the threat enabling all takers to perform at full capacity. Changing the testing procedure will hurt none, but will help many. Actions for narrowing the achievement gap must be taken and this is one of them. • Why: ○ "Stereotype threat [refers to] being at risk of confirming, as self-characteristic, a negative stereotype about one's group… Making African American participants vulnerable to judgment by negative stereotypes about their group’s intellectual ability depressed their standardized test performance relative to white participants, while conditions designed to alleviate this threat, improved their performance" (Claude Steele). ○ Women and students of low socioeconomic backgrounds are also affected by stereotype threat. ○ The presence of stereotype threat maintains achievement gaps. • Who: This petition will be sent to Educational Testing Service (ETS), the leading standardized test developer. • Resolution: We, the undersigned, believe that testing protocol should be altered by placing questions regarding race/ethnicity, gender, parental education level, and income, to the end of examinations.