Another cog in the wheel known as the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to combat the Extreme Left-Wing Media.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

How can a math test be discriminatory?

I've been skeptical in the past of claims that some employment exams were culturally biased. However, I understood how some general interest questions could be from areas better known by one segment of the population than another and if the test writer is from that segment of the population it could affect the results. Math is one area which should be free of these issues. In fact, as a kid I preferred math because it was not subjective and answers to questions weren't a matter of opinion but were fact. No matter where you're from or what your ethnic background may be, 2 plus 2 always equals 4.

The Virginia Beach Police Department is being accused of having a discriminatory hiring policy based on the math portion of their entrance exam.
The city requires all recruits to score at least 70 percent on all parts of the written exam – the National Police Officer Selection Test. Between 2002 and mid-2005, about 59 percent of black applicants and 66 percent of Hispanic applicants passed the math test, compared with 85 percent of white applicants, according to the Justice Department letter.
Being unhappy with the results doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem with the test. There may be a problem with the educational background of the applicants.
First administered to Virginia Beach candidates in 1998, the test is designed to assess basic skills of a police officer. It is offered to prospective officers in 20 other states, according to the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. “This is not a test we developed,” Jacocks said. “We are not looking for rocket scientists. This is a basic math aptitude test.”

One sample question framed a problem in the context of police work: “On Tuesday, Officer Jones worked the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. At 10:55 p.m. he was called to the scene of an accident where he remained until 1:30 a.m. How long past his regular shift did Officer Jones work?”
I just called my nine year old son in and asked him this question. He had no problem and he attended Virginia Beach public schools for 1st and 2nd grades prior to our moving to Ohio.

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