Measurement and Assessment: Conservations with Professional People of Color in the Field of Education
Marbley, Aretha Faye, Bonner, Fred, Berg, Rachelle, Multicultural Education
With the increased focus on issues of diversity and multiculturalism in the United States and abroad, educators and clinicians have become more and more concerned about the feasibility and validity of their assessment instruments and practices for children and adults from nonWhite backgrounds. Many researchers (e.g., Brown, Lipford-Sanders, & Shaw, 1995; Sue & Sue; 2003) emphasize that when working with racially diverse groups in multiple settings, issues relating to their cultures often differ from those of the dominant group and thus warrant different approaches and considerations. Therefore, the need to foster a multicultural perspective within educational and psychological assessment that embraces more than just test instruments is evident and paramount (D'Andrea, Daniels, & Heck, 1991; Ivey, Ivey, & Simek-Morgan, 1993; Johnson, Torres, Coleman, & Smith, 1995).
For people of color, the negative and harmful effects of assessment practices reaches far beyond mere measurement and focuses on more critical issues than just testing bias. For people of color, a cultural approach to assessment must begin with a dialogue on multicultural standards, competencies, guidelines, training, and with the relevant profession for which the education and assessment is intended.
Thus, a multicultural approach necessitates a moral and ethical responsibility for higher education institutions to be proponents of diversity and to prepare culturally sensitive professional educators to work with the diverse groups in our society.
As a result of this call to professions to embrace a sense of ethical and moral responsibility to people of color, researchers from multiple disciplines in education have reiterated the importance of development of culturally appropriate and culturally sensitive assessment instruments as well as the development of ethical standards and training guidelines to prepare competent professionals who choose to work with culturally diverse people (e.g., Krishnamurthi, 2003; Lindsey, 2000; Suzuki, 2001; Wall & Walz, 2003).
The Impact of Assessment, Measurement, Testing, and Research on Marginalized People
This need for a cultural approach in educational assessment also reaches beyond a mere awareness and knowledge of racial and ethnic differences to encompass broader areas such as assessment, practice, training, ethics, and research related to working with people from diverse backgrounds, specifically people of color (Miller-Jones, 1989; Ridley, Hill, & Wiese, 2001; Roysircar, Sandhu, & Bibbins, 2003; Suzuki, Ponterotto, & Meller, 2001; Valencia & Suzuki, 2001). A prime example is professionals acquiring competencies and culturally sensitive skills necessary to work with diverse groups in multiple settings, where issues relating to their race, ethnicity, and culture often differ from those of the dominant group, and thus may warrant different approaches and considerations than those of the dominant group (Roysircar et al., 2003).
A cultural assessment approach must also include the appropriate and responsible use of the dissemination of research and measurement instruments, including their selection, administration, scoring, interpretation, and communication, as well as recognition of the preponderance of bias existing within the practice of the field of educational measurement and other disciplines within the academy.
Therefore, a comprehensive understanding of the importance of the role culture plays in educational assessment requires examining assessment in light of its importance to race, culture, ethnicity, gender, and other diversity variables. In addition, there needs to be input on the bias and the negative impact of assessment on people of color from multiple sources and from a variety of disciplines within education, such as counselor education, higher education, educational psychology, teacher education, special education, educational technology, and educational leadership. …