Saturday, December 10, 2011

You Think You Know Ghetto?

After walking out of my Sociology class on Thursday, I questioned myself about the standardized intelligence tests we take throughout school and university. Thinking about it, the education we receive is mostly based on our wealth, culture and ethnic background. It is extremely difficult to come across a standardized test without having the exam be culturally and ethnically unbiased. Standardized exams tend to be culturally biased since the ones who write them are usually white, middle-class, individuals. This is not necessarily done intentionally, but the people who are most eligible to attend university are middle and higher-class individuals in our society. As Sociology insists, we do not have control of which family or which social class we are born into, and the education we get is based on that. In other words, richer people tend to have greater chances of better education, whereas lower class individuals get inferior education. Representative of this case would be in America where it is stereotypically known that most whites and Asian people get the better education, while the African Americans and Latinos get less.

Tracking in schools play huge role in this situation. Tracking is when education systems sort students into distinct instructional groups according to similarities in their past academic performance, results on standardized tests, or even anticipated academic expectations. In most cases, students are grouped based on their test scores and past performances. Research suggests that this special curriculum exaggerates and widens the gap among students and continues the belief that intellectual ability varies according to social class and ethnic group. Thus, at most times, this influences the chances of a student’s dropping out of high school based on their racial and ethnic classification.

Halfway through class, our professor gave us a “You Think You Know Ghetto?” test. At first, I was surprised and wondered as to why he made us take the test. After completing it, it made me realize how if not all, but most tests I have taken are culturally biased! I realized that most standardized tests go to the extent of creating educational inequality and institutional racism, and reveal how most white students are privileged. The test gave me an opportunity to put myself in the same shoes as black students after taking a standardized test. The test “ You Think You Know Ghetto?” is a more contemporary version of the Adrian Dove’s famous “Chitling Test of Intelligence” first published in 1971. The test illustrates how cultural language differences affect objective measurements of intelligence in tests.

Some sociologists argue that African Americans demonstrate poorly in intelligence tests in comparison to white students. This gap is more evident in regards to African American language, attitudes, cultural backgrounds and even lifestyle. At most times, cultural content within intelligence tests leads to culturally biased results. As most of the people who design these tests are white and educated, their tests are culturally unfamiliar for dissimilar test takers. For instance, African American students do not use the same language, nor do they have the same cultural background. From this, we may also infer that dominant cultures set the parameters for minority cultures.

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