Reporting Race and Ethnicity in International Assessment

Reporting Race and Ethnicity in International Assessment

Mya Poe (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-667-9.ch023
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The study of racial-ethnic group differences on educational tests has yielded a substantial body of research internationally in the last decade. In this chapter, I map current research about racial-ethnic minorities and educational testing in the English-language educational assessment literature. From an initial search yielding 420 articles, 78 were identified for further analysis. The results show that (1) although researchers often do not define terms like race or ethnicity, the socially constructed nature of race and ethnicity is assumed (2) racial-ethnic group categorizations shift depending upon national context and (3) comparative studies can result in focusing attention on racial-ethnic groups while drawing attention away from testing policies that are implicated in creating such results. Such results underscore how crossnational literature reviews can enrich studies of race-ethnicity and educational test performance.
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Internationally, the last decade has brought enormous changes in the field of assessment. While many countries have long-held domestic assessment procedures, there has been a global movement towards national standards and international comparative test data (Oakland & Hambleton, 1995; Davies & Guppy, 1997; Lowe, 2000). These changes in educational testing are potentially important given the changes in the demographics of student populations in many countries and the internationalization of higher education (Apple, 1999; OECD, 2007). While several important reviews have been conducted to examine the frameworks being used to understand racial-ethnic group performances in specific country contexts (Stevens, 2007), the role of testing companies (Clark, Madaus, Horn, & Ramos, 2000), how demographic changes impact racial-ethnic1 groups (Suarez-Orozco, 1991), and the impact of government testing policies (Tomlinson 1997, 1998, 2005), these reviews have tended to not take a cross-national perspective. My goal in this chapter is to map current conversations about racial-ethnic groups and educational testing in the English-language educational assessment literature. In undertaking this review, my research questions were as follows:

  • What frameworks are being used to address racial or ethnic student test performance?

  • What discourses are embedded in those discussions?

  • How might we extrapolate future research directions from these findings?

In this chapter, I first describe several important changes in higher education that provide a rationale for the study of cross-national discourses on racial-ethnic student achievement. Reforms initiated from the 1960s through 1980s in numerous countries have opened access to higher education to groups who were previously excluded (Coates & Krause, 2005; Healy, 2008). At the same time, changes in immigration patterns have brought new immigrant populations to Europe as well as traditional “receiving” countries such as Canada, Australia, and the United States. These changes have resulted in the diversification of the student population in schools. Along with these changes, governments have adopted policies to address the diversification of their populations. Finally, in this changing landscape, we have seen more attention to internationally comparative studies of student achievement and government “accountability” demands, resulting in an increased demand for educational test instruments and the subsequent growth of the testing industry. Following this background discussion, I then describe the results of a literature survey that I conducted of the English-language testing literature found in academic journals. Following discussion of the research results, I then suggest several implications for researchers and test designers regarding the reporting of test data by racial-ethnic groups.


Government Assessment Policy And Diversity

Traditionally, educational testing has been the subject of domestic policy, with countries developing assessments that reflect the structure of their national educational system (For good reviews of national assessment systems, see regular profiles in the journal Assessment in Education). However, since the 1980s there have been a number of significant changes in educational systems internationally as UNESCO and the World Bank have promoted educational reform in developing countries (Jones, 1992). At the same time, the United States, United Kingdom, and other Western governments have taken a more active role in domestic educational policy.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Racial Stratification: “The differentiation of a given population into hierarchically superimposed racial groups. Its basis and very essence consist in an unequal distribution of rights and privileges among the members of a society” (Zuberi & Bonilla-Silva, 2008, p. 15).

Ethnicity: “Human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be important for group formation; furthermore it does not matter whether an objective blood relationship exists. Ethnic membership (Gemeinsamkeit) differs from the kinship group precisely by being a presumed identity, not a group with concrete social action, like the latter. In our sense ethnic membership does not constitute a group; it only facilitates group formation of any kind, particularly in the political sphere. On the other hand, it is primarily the political community, no matter how artificially organized, that inspires the belief in common ethnicity” (Weber, 1978, p. 389).

Race: “A concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies” (Omi & Winant, 1994, p. 55).

Racial Formations: “The socio-historical processes by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed” (Omi & Winant, 1994, p. 55).

Racism: “A fundamental characteristic of social projects which create or reproduce structures of domination based on essentialists categories of race” (Omi & Winant, 1994, p. 162 n2).

Minority: “an ethnic group occupying a subordinate position in a multiethnic society, suffering from the disabilities of prejudice and discrimination, and maintaining a separate group identity” (Gibson, 1997, p. 318).

Race-Ethnicity: A combined term to signify that race and ethnicity are not two discrete entities but the two registers of racism (Hall,1996).

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Christopher S. Schreiner
Christopher S. Schreiner
Chapter 1
Melissa A. Dyehouse, John Y. Baek, Richard A. Lesh
This chapter describes a model for evaluating complex organizations or systems. The design assessment model the authors propose is a response to... Sample PDF
Multi-Tier Design Assessment in the Development of Complex Organizational Systems
Chapter 2
Hedva Lewittes
In this chapter critical thinking is assessed using two critical thinking learning outcomes that were required for the State University of New... Sample PDF
A Critical Thinking Rubric as the Basis of Assessment and Curriculum
Chapter 3
Suzanne Pieper, Erika Edwards, Brandon Haist, Walter Nolan
The purpose of this chapter is to review literature over the past ten years regarding technology tools that are being used in higher education to... Sample PDF
A Survey of Effective Technologies to Assess Student Learning
Chapter 4
John Baer, Sharon S. McKool
The Consensual Assessment Technique is a powerful tool used by creativity researchers in which panels of expert judges are asked to rate the... Sample PDF
Assessing Creativity Using the Consensual Assessment Technique
Chapter 5
Christine Charyton, Zorana Ivcevic, Jonathan A. Plucker, James C. Kaufman
This chapter discusses creativity assessment as a means for evaluating skills required in higher education. Creativity is assessed in the context of... Sample PDF
Creativity Assessment in Higher Education
Chapter 6
Asao B. Inoue
This chapter articulates writing assessment as a technology, theorized with three aspects (power, parts, and purpose), accounting for the ways in... Sample PDF
The Technology of Writing Assessment and Racial Validity
Chapter 7
Sheila S. Thompson, Annemarie Vaccaro
The purpose of this chapter is to address epistemological and methodological approaches to assessing assessment. The authors’ intent is to show how... Sample PDF
Qualitative and Quantitative Methods as Complementary Assessment Tools
Chapter 8
Teresa Flateby
The development of the Cognitive Level and Quality of Writing Assessment online system is described in this chapter. Beginning with needs identified... Sample PDF
Effects of Assessment Results on a Writing and Thinking Rubric
Chapter 9
Barbara D’Angelo, Barry Maid
Outcomes-based assessment provides data for programs to demonstrate student learning as a result of their enrollment in the program and to assess... Sample PDF
Assessing Outcomes in a Technical Communication Capstone
Chapter 10
Sonya Borton, Alanna Frost, Kate Warrington
As Jacqueline Jones Royster articulated at the 2006 Conference on College Composition and Communication, English departments are already assessing... Sample PDF
Assessing the Composition Program on Our Own Terms
Chapter 11
Joan Aitken
This chapter uses a case study to exemplify one approach to assessment of three instructional delivery formats: (a) online, (b) distance, satellite... Sample PDF
A Case Study of Instructional Delivery Formats
Chapter 12
Victor W. Brunsden
The author present a case-study of a classroom technique that allows assessment and some remediation of several shortcomings of college student... Sample PDF
Inverting the Remedial Mathematics Classroom with Alternative Assessment
Chapter 13
David A. Eubanks
This chapter describes Coker College’s subjective performance assessment program to rate student thinking and communication skills. It uses a... Sample PDF
A Case Study of Authentic Assessment
Chapter 14
P. Tokyo Kang, David Gugin
This chapter reports an outcomes assessment study conducted at the University of Guam. The assessment project was conducted during the 2006-07 and... Sample PDF
Outcomes Assessment in Japanese Language Instruction
Chapter 15
Barika Barboza, Frances Singh
This chapter describes an outcomes assessment study completed in a basic composition course at a small urban open admissions community college. The... Sample PDF
Assessing the Effectiveness of a Basic Writing Course
Chapter 16
Lorraine Gilpin, Yasar Bodur, Kathleen Crawford
Peer assessment holds tremendous potential to positively impact the development of preservice teachers. The purpose of this chapter is to describe... Sample PDF
Peer Assessment for Development of Preservice Teachers
Chapter 17
Charlotte Brammer, Rhonda Parker
In 2002, Samford University began working on a long-term learning assessment plan designed to evaluate its undergraduates’ competencies in written... Sample PDF
Workshops and E-Portfolios as Transformational Assessment
Chapter 18
Daniel F. Chambliss
This chapter describes how the trend favoring assessment initiatives of a system-wide scope such as program review and collegiate learning... Sample PDF
A Neglected Necessity in Liberal Arts Assessment: The Student as the Unit of Analysis
Chapter 19
Deirdre Pettipiece, Timothy Ray, Justin Everett
Perhaps due to its applicability as a performance of skill sets in virtually all disciplines, writing as a mechanism for measuring student success... Sample PDF
Redefining Writing Reality Multi-Modal Writing and Assessment
Chapter 20
Sean A. McKitrick
This chapter introduces methods that can be used to engage faculty in the assessment process, working within a shared governance structure in... Sample PDF
Engaging Faculty as a Strategic Choice in Assessment
Chapter 21
Steven M. Culver, Ray VanDyke
There is much in the assessment literature about the necessity of developing a culture of assessment and mandates from accrediting bodies include... Sample PDF
Developing a Receptive and Faculty-Focused Environment for Assessment
Chapter 22
John Wittman
This chapter argues that as primary stakeholders in writing program assessment, students and instructors need to be included proactively in... Sample PDF
New Collaborations for Writing Program Assessment
Chapter 23
Mya Poe
The study of racial-ethnic group differences on educational tests has yielded a substantial body of research internationally in the last decade. In... Sample PDF
Reporting Race and Ethnicity in International Assessment
Chapter 24
Joan Hawthorne, Tatyana Dumova, April Bradley, Daphne Pederson
In this chapter the authors describe a method developed to assess the outcome of a “cultural familiarity” general education goal. Challenges in... Sample PDF
Method Development for Assessing a Diversity Goal
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