Term Paper: Culturally Biased Intelligence Assessment

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[. . .] (Myers 1995) This test was created by David Wechsler and is composed of 11 subtests that report overall intelligence and separate verbal and nonverbal scores. This intelligence test can determine whether or not an individual has a learning disability and it can also show an employer the strengths and weaknesses of an employee. (Myers 1995)

Morris (2002) explains that "The Bell Curve," "continues to propagate the notion in the academy and popular culture that a major reason African-Americans do not achieve in schools might be more connected to rank-and-file notions of African-Americans' innate intellectual inferiority, than to persistent, concrete structural and historic forces." (Morris 2002) Morris (2002) contends that the assertions made by Herrnstein and Murray have had profound implications upon gifted education in the African-American community. He asserts that the racist notions created by culturally biased IQ tests have taken up residence in America's school systems and prevent African-American students from receiving access to gifted programs in schools. (Morris 2002)

Morris writes that black students are disproportionately overlooked when it comes to placement in gifted programs and programs that are designed to prepare students for college. On the other hand they are disproportionately placed in special education programs in our nation's schools. Morris asserts that this is just one of the lingering effects of culturally biased intelligence assessments. (Morris 2002)

Morris is not the only one that is concerned about the neglect of gifted African-American students in the school system. Patton (1992) writes that the problem of overlooking gifted black students is rooted in the belief that black people are intellectually inferior. Patton explains, "One problem is that there is no systematic, well-defined logic of inquiry for assessing and identifying gifts and talents among African-American learners. Instead, attempts to identify gifts and talents among African-Americans have frequently relied on assessment approaches that are not grounded in African-American worldviews, ethos, and culture and do not consider the types of intelligences African-Americans have developed consonant with tasks viewed important by this group of individuals." (Patton 1992) The ar

An article in the journal of Remedial and Special Education reports similar findings. Townsend (2002) suggests that minority students have been saturated with remedial approaches to learning. Townsend asserts that is approach is not because these students learn at a remedial level but because teachers have preconceived notions about what these students can achieve based on bias intellectual assessments of the past. Finally, the article asserts that this remedial approach to learning prevents certain groups of children from competing with their white peers. (Townsend 2000)

The proliferations of these culturally biased tests have had a great impact on the way that different students are perceived. It seems that the stigma created by Terman has had a lasting impact on the educational system. It is apparent that educators and psychologists have been unable to dismiss these unfound notions although many of them realize that the IQ tests and other standardized tests show cultural bias.

The continued impact of culturally biased testing has also enveloped various professions. Because of the perceived notions of an inferior IQ, minorities are constantly overlooked for jobs that they are more than qualifies to perform. The Fordham Urban Law Journal reports that leading law firms are failing to promote minorities even though minorities are graduating from college at an increased rate. (Brosnan 2001) The author admits that not all of the problems that minorities have in the workforce are related to culturally biased test. Brosnan (2001) concedes that many law firms fail to promote black talent because they believe blacks don't have connections to businesses and lack the mentorship that is needed to climb the ranks at a law firm. (Brosnan 2001) However, Brosnan does conclude that the beliefs about the intellectual inferiority of minorities.

An article entitled, "A threat in the air," explains that culturally biased IQ testing has resulted in a school system that places stereotypes upon students. Steele (1997) explains that the stereotypes that are place on many students causes them to under perform on standardized tests because they do not believe that they can do just as well as a white student. (Steele 1997) Stereotypes condition these kids into thinking that they are unable to achieve specific goals. In addition, many students are in classrooms with teachers that have given into the notion that only white students can excel in academia and do not challenge minorities to obtain a good education. (Steele 1997)

Shwartz and Wehmeyer (2001) explain that in addition to cultural biases pertaining to race there are also cultural biases that pertain to gender. The author contends that one of the reasons that boys out number girls in special education classes has to do with gender roles and gender bias in our culture. The article published in Education and Treatment of children asserts that assessments of intellect and admission into special education programs is biased towards girls because there are preconceived notions that girls are good and gentle. Schwartz and Wheeler (2001) concluded that girls are often denied access to special education classes that could be of benefit to them simply because it is believed that females possess the intellect to adapt better to whatever environment that they are placed in. (Schwartz and Wheeler 2001)

Implications of using Psychometrics and the ethical implications of not creating a culturally unbiased test

According to Ceci (1994) psychometrics is a field of measurement theory created by Lloyd Humphreys. Humphreys believed that IQ was related to heritability. (Ceci 1994)The implication of this theory is that an individuals' IQ has nothing to do with culture or the forces at work in the environment. Implying that very important variables can be ignored when measuring intelligence is a falsehood and full of contradictions. Many who concede that this notion is correct have no concept of the effect of culture and environment on the human psyche. (Ceci 1994)

If a culturally unbiased test is not created the results could be devastating. Minorities in America will continue to be stereotyped because of the culturally biased standards that are presented in many of the current IQ test. These stereotypes cause students to perform poorly in school creating a cycle of poverty in their communities. (Steele 1997) These culturally biased tests must begin to embrace racial and cultural differences incorporate these differences into the test. Culturally unbiased test will also aid all of us in understanding one another better and embracing our difference.

In addition, if a culturally unbiased test is not created many gifted students will continue to be denied the right to have access to the level of education that they need to properly develop their skills and excel in academia. (Morris 2002) Excelling in academia could provide these students with profound opportunities to study abroad and positively impact their communities. Culturally unbiased test could serve to boost the self-esteem of millions of people and give them confidence as they face the world.


Our literary review has shown that IQ test have been culturally biased for decades. We found that many of the scientists that created the tests all ready had preconceived beliefs about minority groups and believed in the supremacy of their own groups. Psychologists such as Terman actually believed that 80% of new immigrants were intellectually inferior to western and northern Europeans and their beliefs helped to shape immigration laws. Our review found that IQ assessment had a profound effect upon the way that individuals perceived and treated one another.

We also found that cultural bias in IQ testing involved shaping questions to fit a euro-centric world view. In doing this the psychologists that created the test made it impossible for anyone that lacked their worldview to excel on the test. These psychologists totally ignored cultural and environmental factors that contribute to an individual's intelligence quotient.

Our literary review also indicated that many different psychologists including Robert Williams have attempted to dispel the myth that minorities are intellectually inferior. Williams wanted to demonstrate that intelligence was relative to culture and that the intelligence is not genetic. He seemed to believe that if individuals were given IQ tests based on their culture then their intelligence could be properly measured.

With this being said our literary review also found that there are individuals that still believe that intelligence is genetic and has nothing to do with culture. The book "The bell curve" was at the center of our discussion and we found that the authors of this book believed that those with inferior intelligence should be made wards of the state and not be allowed to live with the general population. The authors believed that these intellectual inferiors would somehow taint American Society and our ideas about individualism. The thoughts that these authors project and the venom that they spew is cause fro great alarm and should not be taken lightly.

Our research also found that the most common intelligence that is used today is the WAIS -- R. The test was created by David… [END OF PREVIEW]

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