Iowa Tests of Basic Skills
First published in 1935, the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) were recently revised and standardized in 1992. The ITBS is a multilevel battery of achievement tests that covers grades K through 8. A companion test, the Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP) covers grades 9 through 12. In order to expedite direct and accurate comparisons of achievement and ability, ITBS is normed with the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), a respected group test of general intellectual ability.
The ITBS is available in several levels that correspond roughly with the ages of the potential examinees: level 5 and 6 (grades K-1), levels 7-8 (grades 2-3) and levels 9-14 (grades 3-8). The basic subsets for the older levels measure vocabulary, reading, language, mathematics, social studies, science and sources of information (i.e. uses of diagrams and maps). From the first edition onwards, the ITBS has been guided by a pragmatic philosophy of educational measurement. The manual states the purpose of testing as “The purpose of measurement is to provide information which can be used in improving instruction. Measurement has value to the extent that it results in the better decisions which directly affect pupils”.
The ITBS incorporates a criterion-referenced skills analysis to supplement the usual array of norm-referenced sources. For example, one feature available from the publisher’s scoring service is item-level information. This information indicates topic areas, items sampling the topic, and correct or wrong responses for each item. Teachers therefore have access to a wealth of diagnostic-instructional information for each student. Whether this information translates to better instruction, as desired by the test author, is very difficult to quantify.
There has been discussion about the possibility of cultural bias in ITBS as the test utilizes vocabulary and language frequently used by Caucasian Americans, becoming an advantage for the Caucasian Americans. There has been demonstrated to exist huge gap between the score of test corresponding to the income bracket, the questions of the test have been stated to be responsible for this. Hoover and Kolen (1984) studying the ITBS reported a low stability of bias statistics across randomly chosen samples of African-American and Americans in the United States.
The technical qualities of ITBS are also relevant. Internal consistency and equivalent-form reliability coefficients are mostly in the mid .80s to low .90s. Stability coefficients for one year interval are almost all in the .70 to .90 range. The test is free from cultural and gender bias as determined by content evaluation and item bias studies.
Formal Language Assessment of Handicapped and Non-Handicapped Black Children
This test has been conducted on 26 children learning disabled and 26 non learning disabled elementary school black children. The test conducted was test of language development Intermediate (TOLD). The results achieved have been discussed in relation to the performance of children on TOLD, relative performance on language of children, impact of socio-economic factors on TOLD of children. The researchers found noteworthy differences between the learning disabled and non learning disabled children. The differences were analyzed on five subsets. The difference which were significant found on four subsets out of five of TOLD-I. Socioeconomic status of the participants was also analyzed and studies in the research and was found that the participants of superior socioeconomic status displayed close approximation to the test norms. This demonstrates that socioeconomic status of the black children also plays important role in the language assessment tests.
Test of Language Development Intermediate is a test of language development that measures vocabulary and sentence structure by assessing sentence combinations, oral vocabulary, abstract relationships, the ordering of words without sentences, recognition of grammatically correct sentences, and the correction of non-sensical sentences. The children with physical disabilities may have trouble speaking, seeing, hearing, and using the senses. Also, these children may have trouble in speaking and thinking quickly.
The test of language development faces a significant criticism that they are biased in terms of their language, pictures and content in favor of white middle-class children, thereby disadvantaging children from low socio-economic and different ethnic backgrounds. It has also been demonstrated that “both tests and schools stresses on the use of English and incorporates the assumptions of mainstream American society; a test can appear to be psychometrically valid which still overlooking the student’s learning potential” (Conner, 1989, p. 261). A review of the existing literature on assessment of African-American allows examining the assumptions of validity and reliability of the language assessment and the cultural bias associated with it. The test also comprises of the English of the American standard and the children of other ethnicity are not in the proper position to understand it. This gives rise to the chances of cultural bias.
The test of language development conducted on handicapped and non-handicapped black children is also not free of this cultural bias and though every precaution has been taken to remove the cultural bias, still the bias induced from American children oriented pictures, words and sentences incorporates the cultural bias.
Hoover, H. D., & Kolen, M. J. (1984). The reliability of six item bias indices. Applied Psychological Measurement, 8 , 173-181.
Meece, J. (2010). Handbook of Research on Schools, Schooling and Human Development. : Taylor & Francis.
O. Conner & M.C. (1989). Aspects of Differential Performance by Minorities on Standardization Tests: Linguistics and Sociocultural Factors. Test Policy and test performance: education, language and culture , 129-181.