Published: 8-05-2011, 10:01

Culture-fair (culture-free) test - American Education

An examination whose questions are not based on cultural experiences and can, therefore, be answered with equal facility by students of different cultures with the same intelligence. Many nonverbal performance tests requiring no language skills often serve as useful culture-fair tests for measuring manual dexterity and reasoning skills. Culture-fair tests date back to the beginning of World War II, when universal conscription drew into the armed forces hundreds of thousands of illiterate men of otherwise normal or superior intelligence. The need for able-bodied soldiers made rejection on the basis of illiteracy impractical. The Army therefore developed two qualification tests to measure intelligence: the Army Examination Alpha, for literate conscriptees, and the Army Examination Beta, for illiterate and foreign-language-speaking soldiers. In administering the Beta test, examiners and test-takers used gestures, pantomime and demonstrations or drew marks and lines instead of using language or trying to write words. Culturefair testing became essential in many American public schools after World War II, when large numbers of Hispanic students of normal and superior intelligence were unable to cope with culturally biased intelligence tests designed for English-speaking American children.
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