Ethical Considerations In Assessment

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The process of instruction involves more than just the appropriate curriculum and its implementation, but also deals with the environment in which it is being transmitted. Teachers are accordingly well-trained to structure the classroom environment and build series of experiences for learners who have a broad range of abilities, interests, and learning needs to succeed.

Instinctively, teachers employ varied instructional strategies, such as lecture method, discovery, inquiry, collaborative, performance, investigation, to help learners become independent, strategic learners. These strategies become learning strategies when learners independently select the appropriate ones and use them effectively to accomplish tasks or meet goals.

Given these wide-ranging instructional strategies that teachers employ, it follows that assessment based on a single instructional strategy is consequentially unethical. Likewise, even the same assessment strategy administered to all learners does not offer fairness because it inherently lacks opportunity to some due to differences in cultural background, learning styles and the rate of learning.

However, when cultural backgrounds differ, differences in what has been learned cannot be attributed to the ability to learn. The reason it is not recommended to administer commercially achievement tests, is because they were developed based on different learners’ culture from those who write them. It is one’s acculturation that leads to a different response from the learner on whom the test was based.

Learners with disability frequently undergo different acculturation, so if they are subjected to the same test under the same conditions with other learners, they are bound to perform lower, simply because they were not afforded the fair opportunity to receive the stimulus and respond accordingly like other learners. Consequently, the skill content area that was measured by the test could not be measured accurately if it is beyond the capabilities of the learners to meet the stimulus and response demands of a question.

Then to the greatest extent appropriate, learners with disabilities should be placed in a setting that would maximize their opportunities to interact with learning experiences. Their assessment too, should be modified to accommodate their needs. Note that courts can keep school administration from testing learners, or at least from giving specific kinds of tests to specific kinds of learners, and the inverse is true.

Because the assessment of learners is a social act that has social and educational consequences, assessment data is used to make decisions about the learners that could significantly affect an individual’s life opportunities. Subsequently, those who assess learners must be committed to the application of professional expertise to promote improvement in the quality of life of the student, family, school and community. This ethical standard means that assessors, including teachers, must have the requisite skills in assessment, including assessing learners of diverse backgrounds.

Information generated during assessment, includes personal information, thence it must be held in strict confidence by those who assess learners. Confidentiality may be broken only when there is clear and imminent danger to an individual or to society. Results of assessment can only be released or discussed to third party with consent. More often than not, learners’ information has been released without consent, to the public and to private agencies that have no right to the information.

All that we are saying is that assessments should not be judged only in terms of their technical adequacy, particularly that of validity and reliability, but also in terms of their likely social and legal implications of their use. Although technical adequacy is important in assessment, the fairness of assessment consequences is even more important.

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