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Katherine Degener, Stephanie Flores-Koulish, Ph.D.

An Equity Audit of 5th Grade Literacy Assessments

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In the current landscape of modern education, high-stakes testing is unavoidable. Throughout an average school year, students are often required to take state assessments, in addition to the other, more commonplace, district and school-wide assessments. However, one aspect that is often overlooked in this area is how these assessments reflect the racially diverse population of students who are taking them. It is important to delve deeper into who these assessments are geared toward or against. Despite wide usage across the nation, standardized assessments within each state are often accessed by students from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. This means that it is crucial to examine how the systems of standardized assessments favor or disadvantage the racial groups of students taking them.

There is a large body of research that showcases the different experiences of students based on their racial backgrounds. This research points to an inequity around standardized testing based on the factors of race and ethnicity. Due to all of this information, one must consider how these acts of racism may exist in their own personal educational experience. That is the case in this study. Most upper-elementary school students in the state of Maryland are required to take a variety of standardized assessments throughout each school year. It is vital that these assessments be audited for their standard of equity on behalf of the students who will take them. In this study, standardized literacy assessments in the state of Maryland will be audited based on a multitude of equity criteria.

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