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Bias in Testing and Judge Peckham’s Decision

According to experts, an intelligence test can be considered biased when the scores of one group are significantly different and have higher predictive validity, which is the extent to which a score on an assessment predicts future performance, than another group. An IQ test can be considered culturally biased based on the extent to which it has offended or personalized some students due to their ethnicity, gender or socioeconomic status (Argosy University, 2014).

Respectively, there are four types of biases in testing:

Bias in Construct Validity

Bias in construct validity is present when a test is shown to measure different hypothetical constructs or traits for one group than another; this type of bias also exists when the test measures the same trait for groups but with different degrees of accuracy (Argosy University, 2014).

Bias in Content Validity

Bias in content validity is present when an item or subscale is relatively more difficult for members of one groups than another after the general ability level of the two is held constant (Argosy University, 2014).

Bias in item Selection

Bias in item selection is present when the items and tasks selected are based on the learning experiences and language of the dominant group. This bias is closely related to content validity, but addresses more directly concerns regarding the appropriateness of individual items (Argosy University, 2014).

Bias in Predictive or Criterion-Related Validity

Bias in predictive or criterion-related validity is present when the inference drawn from the test score is not made with the smallest feasible random error or when there is constant error in an inference or prediction as a function of membership in a particular group (Argosy University, 2014).

Language Issues

Language differences can also be an issue for the test taker’s performance, as a result, this may lead to bias against non-native English test-takers for instance. For example, a non-native English test-taker may struggle with reading comprehension, which obstructs their ability to understand questions and answers well. The issues of culture and language are particularly important to take into consideration when assessing minority groups, especially African American children who are predominately speakers of African American English (AAE) or whose language socialization experiences may cause them to test differently on standardized measures of intelligence and language (Ford, D. Y., 2007).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Judge Peckham’s Decision

With Judge Peckham’s ruling of 1971, African American children were no longer being discriminated against because of test results that were wrongly given and administered. The benefits of this ruling are; a large number of African American children would not be placed into Educable Mentally Retarded category in order to get educational services that they don’t need. This, in fact, did harm them more than it has helped them. Being wrongly diagnosed can be more damaging than not being diagnosed at all, it can derail a person’s life. When misdiagnosing a person, not only he/she would be categorized as something or someone that he/she’s not, but he/she also in some cases would be forced to participate in activities that are irrelevant to his/her real situation (Argosy University, 2014).

One must always keep in mind that the purpose of evaluating a person’s IQ is not to categorize that person, but to determine the most appropriate way to help that person (Argosy University, 2014). Unfortunately, with the superintendent practice in California, minority group, especially African American children weren’t getting that kind of assistance. As a result, Judge Peckham had to intervene the way he did, which wasn’t the most effective way he could intervene.


The disadvantages of not having African American children taking the IQ test is that those who might need special educational services may not be qualified for it. As a result, those who need special educational services might be left on their own without any government help for a costume-built education, which raises the possibility for them to fail academically and in life in general (Ford, D. Y., 2007).

So the point is, banning African American children from taking the IQ test because of many culturally biases that involves in it was not the correct answer to the situation. The IQ tests should be modified or custom-built to any and every cultural background and race or ethnicity group in order to avoid the least biases possible IQ tests or any other form of test that might involve diversity (Ford, D. Y., 2007).


Argosy University (2014). Theories and Individual Tests of Intelligence and Achievement. Data Retrieved on 09/06/2014, from:

Ford, D. Y. (2007). Intelligence testing and cultural diversity: The need for alternative instruments, policies, and procedures. In VanTassel-Baska, J. L. (Ed.), Alternative assessments with gifted and talented students (pp. 107–128). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press and the National Association for Gifted Children.

Williams, R. (1970). Danger: Testing and dehumanizing Black children. Clinical Child Psychology Newsletter, 9(1), 5–6.

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