News  |  ,   |  July 21, 2020

Global exam grading algorithm under fire for suspected bias

News article by Avi Asher-Schapiro.
Published by Thomson Reuters Foundation.


When Colorado high school student Isabel Castaneda checked her final grades for the International Baccalaureate program in July, she was shocked.

Despite being one of the top-ranking students in her public school, she failed a number of courses — including high-level Spanish, her native language.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program – a global standard of educational testing that also allows U.S. high-school students to obtain college credit – cancelled its exams in May, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of sitting final exams, which usually account for the majority of students’ scores, students were assigned their marks based on a mathematical “awarding model”, as described by the IB program.

“I come from a low-income family – and my entire last two years were driven by the goal of getting as many college credits as I could to save money on school,” Castaneda said in a phone interview. “When I saw those scores, my heart sank.” [ . . . ]