HUMAN DIVERSITY AND EQUITABLE ASSESSMENT
Edmund W. Gordon
Yale University and The College Board
The topic of human diversity and its implications for assessment is extremely complex. In this chapter, I will address just four of the major issues arising in this contentious domain. The first issue concerns the relationship between assessment and pedagogy itself. The second issue has to do with the implications of assessment that grow out of an assertion that the problems of diversity are probably not primarily problems for assessment but problems for education. Third, I will discuss the complexities of diversity as distinct from pluralism, both of which have implications for education and assessment. Finally, I explore some notions of how educational assessment can be made more sensitive and more appropriate for persons from diverse cultural backgrounds.
With respect to the first issue, I argue that the most fundamental problem concerning human diversity and equity in educational assessment has to do with the effectiveness, sufficiency, and adequacy of teaching and learning. When teaching and learning are sufficient, when they are truly effective, most of the problems posed for equitable assessment as a function of diverse human characteristics become manageable. The problems are not eliminated but they at least become manageable when the educational work on the front end is appropriate. Unfortunately, it often is not. It is when teaching and learning are insuf