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Ethics in Assessment

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Larry P. was among the six Black American children who in 1979 underwent the IQ testing for the placement in the educable mentally retarded (EMR) classes at an elementally school in California (Hogan, 2007). As usual, the EMR classes were regarded dead end tracks. The primary goals for the students in the EMR classes did not include writing and reading, but they centered more on personal skills, for instance communication skills, emotional and social adjustment, and hygiene. Larry P. vs. Riles was class-section case in California that centered on the use of IQ tests on young African American children. The class-section case argued that the children had been placed in the EMR classrooms by the use of inappropriate method of assessment which was the IQ testing, and that the IQ tests culturally discriminated against the African American children (Gregory, 1992). According to the arguments by Larry’s attorney, in California, the proportion of African American children in the EMR classes was highest as compared to other races, and that the method of tracking these children, which was the use of IQ tests, went against the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause as well as the California constitution.  This directly indicated that the use of IQ tests as the only criterion to place the EMR children in classrooms was a mere bias, and therefore called for actions to eliminate it.   

The court made an opinion concerning the application of standardized type of intelligence tests for appropriate identification and placement of the young African American children in the EMR classrooms, or any other test that could be equally appropriate in giving reliable outcomes (Hogan, 2007). According to the Department of Education, the young African American children could still undergo testing, but it was advisable for different types of tests to be used on the same individual before the final placement into the EMR classrooms. If the first test showed that the child should be placed into EMR class, an alternative type of placement tests had to be used as well before child could finally be placed into an EMR classroom. According to Kaplan & Saccuzzo (2009), the EMR program was completely removed from the school system of California by 1986. The IQ tests could no longer be used as a placement mechanism, irrespective of whether a Black American child was learning disabled.

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