Exam Questions: Those That Are Pure
It is therefore not surprising to see that scores in standardized exams are correlated with factors other than learning (poverty, race, gender) if the background or experiences of a child factor in the exam. There are "pure" questions, those that are assessing something very specific. Unfortunately, as problems become more complex, it becomes difficult to write questions that are independent of a student's background. The following is perhaps one of the very few examples of "pure" questions in math:
|Above copied from W. James Popham, "Why Standardized Tests Don't Measure Educational Quality".|
The important finding of this paper is that questions labeled with strong real-life references (RM+) show a markedly larger difference in performance between service and working children. It is true that there is a difference in performance across the board. Poor children also make more mistakes with "pure" questions, but the difference in performance is much bigger when the questions include elements from real life. Real-life questions seem to test more than the math - these questions seem to perform excellently in assessing one's social class as well.