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Subject: Affirmative Action in Action rss

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Les Marshall
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Big can of worms here.

First off, you are likely aware that your tests for industry certifications are a great deal different from the civil service exams. Your tests likely focus on proficiency relevant to your field. The civil service exam is more of a baseline general knowledge survey. A civil servant can be anything from a desk clerk at the motor vehicle department to the top cop. I frankly don't know if there is a positive correlation between performance on the exam and success in a particular field of civil service.

Secondly, there is some value in a diverse public agency like a police force. Having a racial composition that reflects to community being policed is going to be more accepted by that community than one that is dominated by a single race, especially one that tends to live outside the jurisdiction being policed. Women, while tending to have less physcial capability than males, have shown an increased capability for non violent conflict resolution. Similarly, testing for physical mimimums alone is therefore not the best or only indicator of a good police officer.

Thirdly, the federal government has an interest to the extent that the requirements of equal protection are met. Is the civil service testing used as an instrument to reach a non diverse outcome? There is a lot of research out there regarding the crafting of testing that unnecessarily provides a disadvantage to either ethnic/minority groups and/or women. It's actually a very nuanced task.

Having said all that, I have long argued that ultimately we should, as a nation, seek to attain a colorblind approach to administration of government. Affirmative action is, by necessity, preferential on the basis of race and should come under the same strict scrutiny as those laws which disadvantage a protected class.



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Dane Peacock
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For Dayton Ohio, as well as everywhere else, I believe that it is a good idea to have a diverse police force, including a healthy representation of black people, regardless of test scores. Lowering test scores seems less discriminatory to me than having an all white police force simply from test results. Maybe more training or retraining is in order.

Why exactly do they have to dig lower to get black candidates? This doesn’t make sense to me and is a bit disconcerting.
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Ken
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Ummmmm. This is all well and good, but the City of Dayton entered into a consent decree in 2009 because they were found to be engaging in discriminatory behavior, which included test construction. Past tests had been found to have flawed designs that were actively discriminatory for both police officers and firefighters. The adjustment would appear to be to bring the new test in line with the consent decree and nothing more.

You'll note that if you go back to late February, Dayton lost a high ranking administrator who was responsible for executing the consent decree because they hadn't actually made much in the way of progress.

So if it's been proven that there actually has been discrimination and the tests that were administered can be found to continue that trend, shouldn't those questions get chucked?

ETA: You can find the consent decree on the DOJ web site if you care to look.
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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perfalbion wrote:
Ummmmm. This is all well and good, but the City of Dayton entered into a consent decree in 2009 because they were found to be engaging in discriminatory behavior, which included test construction. Past tests had been found to have flawed designs that were actively discriminatory for both police officers and firefighters. The adjustment would appear to be to bring the new test in line with the consent decree and nothing more.

You'll note that if you go back to late February, Dayton lost a high ranking administrator who was responsible for executing the consent decree because they hadn't actually made much in the way of progress.

So if it's been proven that there actually has been discrimination and the tests that were administered can be found to continue that trend, shouldn't those questions get chucked?

ETA: You can find the consent decree on the DOJ web site if you care to look.


I can't tell if what you said means what it means or means what I think it means. What it usually means is that there was a test created in a fair and objective manner (quizzing recruits in areas they need to excel at to do the job well), then whites passed more frequently than minorities, then the test is 'proven' to be discriminatory due to the correlation (which does not equal causation).

While it is certainly possible that the test is stacked with questions about Little House on the Prarie, Ice Hockey, and Nascar, I doubt it.
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Stew
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The problem with statistics is its all coincidence.

They only give you data about the people that actually took part in it, but people use it to generalise about everyone else.

Its possible that the black people taking this just where not as smart as the white people taking it.

bjlillo wrote:
What will the citizens of Dayton think when they are pulled over by a black police officer in the future?


I cant imagine they'd think they have a compentant police officer, or even worse if it is a white person who tried to become a police officer but was rejected because he cant fill their black quota.

perfalbion wrote:
Ummmmm. This is all well and good, but the City of Dayton entered into a consent decree in 2009 because they were found to be engaging in discriminatory behavior, which included test construction. Past tests had been found to have flawed designs that were actively discriminatory for both police officers and firefighters. The adjustment would appear to be to bring the new test in line with the consent decree and nothing more..


Then why lower the pass mark of the test? Why not create a colourblind test with the previous higher mark.
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J
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ejmowrer wrote:

While it is certainly possible that the test is stacked with questions about Little House on the Prarie, Ice Hockey, and Nascar, I doubt it.

"Exam questions that favor whites"

This thread or another? Sounds like a fun game.

Here are a few:
How many shots of espresso come standard in a venti latte from Starbucks?

What is the towing capacity for the 2011 model Chevy Silverado?
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Ken
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ejmowrer wrote:
I can't tell if what you said means what it means or means what I think it means. What it usually means is that there was a test created in a fair and objective manner (quizzing recruits in areas they need to excel at to do the job well), then whites passed more frequently than minorities, then the test is 'proven' to be discriminatory due to the correlation (which does not equal causation).


No, tests can be constructed in such a way that they actually discriminate. There's a whole field of study and specialization that deals just with this called psychometris. One of the issues with test construction for the various states for NCLB is that there weren't enough psychometricians (I think that's the right word) to make sure that the tests passed a number of fairness criteria before they were administered (and evaluating the results to confirm it after they were).

I know positively zilch about what they study, how they determine if a test is fair, etc. I do know that they exist and have been involved in just about every major standardized test you've ever heard of to make sure that they are fair.

Was Dayton's test fair? I dunno. Apparently there was enough question that they were investigated by the DoJ and signed a consent decree about the tests and other things.
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Heartbreak, you know, drives a big, black car. Swear I was in the backseat just minding my own..
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As part of a feature story I wrote for a newspaper, I took all the written and physical exams for prospective police officers. The written portions were so easy that a brain-damaged rodent would have a shot at passing them.

I failed the psychological exam. Something to do with spiders, or insanity, or something.
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Les Marshall
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mistermarino wrote:
As part of a feature story I wrote for a newspaper, I took all the written and physical exams for prospective police officers. The written portions were so easy that a brain-damaged rodent would have a shot at passing them.

I failed the psychological exam. Something to do with spiders, or insanity, or something.


Unfortunately, I think what you have demonstrated is not how easy the tests are but how poor is the pool of potential test takers. It shouldn't be surprising that the posters here on BGG and the RSP forum would find such tests easy. In the greater US, a lot of kids are getting out of HS without significant skills in reading and math. But, how many of us in this forum angle towards jobs as police?

I think it is a shame that BJLillo has already labelled this thread as a failure since the discussion is both interesting and useful. The bigger issue here is not whether to dumb down civil service exams but, how to raise the standards of those who take the tests.
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Brett Kildahl
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Rulesjd wrote:
I frankly don't know if there is a positive correlation between performance on the exam and success in a particular field of civil service.


Then what's the point of the test?
 
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Brett Kildahl
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perfalbion wrote:
I know positively zilch about what they study, how they determine if a test is fair, etc. I do know that they exist and have been involved in just about every major standardized test you've ever heard of to make sure that they are fair.


You don't know who they are or what they do, but are prepared to vouch for their credibility?
 
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Ken
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BrettK wrote:
perfalbion wrote:
I know positively zilch about what they study, how they determine if a test is fair, etc. I do know that they exist and have been involved in just about every major standardized test you've ever heard of to make sure that they are fair.


You don't know who they are or what they do, but are prepared to vouch for their credibility?


Well, I don't have my M.D. but I like the doctor I have right now and would recommend them to others. I don't have my D.D.S. but I'd do the same for my dentist. I'm not a statistician, but I'd point you towards Space Ghost here on the forums if you had a question there with confidence that he could handle the problem. I'm also not an air conditioning technician or mechanical engineer but I know some good A/C companies and engineers.

There are plenty of fields of study I couldn't perform a review of and do much more than rely on information from others. Psychometrics is merely one more of those. Given that the literature available on the field would indicate that they've done their job quite well, I'm prepared to accept their value. Just like a "good poll" will be phrased quite differently from a "bad poll" or a "push poll." I don't understand all of the subtleties of how to construct a good poll, but it's pretty apparent which ones return the most consistent and valuable results.
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BrettK wrote:
perfalbion wrote:
I know positively zilch about what they study, how they determine if a test is fair, etc. I do know that they exist and have been involved in just about every major standardized test you've ever heard of to make sure that they are fair.


You don't know who they are or what they do, but are prepared to vouch for their credibility?


This is all encompassed under Item Response Theory in modern psychometrics. The actual area of study focusing on this is called Differential Item Functioning (here is a decent summary from wikipedia)

Quote:
Differential item functioning (DIF) occurs when people from different groups (commonly gender or ethnicity) with the same latent trait (ability/skill) have a different probability of giving a certain response on a questionnaire or test.[1] DIF analysis provides an indication of unexpected behavior by item on a test. An item does not display DIF if people from different groups have a different probability to give a certain response; it displays DIF if people from different groups of same underlying true ability have a different probability to give a certain response. More precisely, an item displays DIF when the difficulty level (b), the discrimination (a) or the lower asymptotes (c) – estimated by item response theory (IRT) – of an item differs across groups. Thus, when one or more item parameters differ across groups, an item displays DIF


The tricky part is estimating the latent trait. If you are still interested I can provide you some good references for how this all works. Big testing companies, like ETS, pay a swarm of psychometricians quite a bit to ensure that this doesn't happen on things like the GRE and SAT.
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James King
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bjlillo wrote:
Dayton, Ohio needs more police officers. They have a test that potential officers must take to determine their eligibility for the job. Apparently, not enough black people passed that test to satisfy the Obama Administration.

Quote:
DAYTON -- The city’s Civil Service Board and the U.S. Department of Justice have agreed on a lower passing score for the police recruit exam after it was rejected because not enough blacks passed the exam.


Wow, that's outright racism from the government. So what did they do to the test?

Quote:
The original passing scores determined by Civil Service required candidates to answer 57 of 86 (66 percent) questions correctly on one portion and 73 of 102 (72 percent) on the other. The lowered benchmark requires candidates to answer 50 of 86 (58 percent) questions correctly and 64 of 102 (63 percent) of questions on the other.


The original percentages don't seem like that high of a hurdle to get over. Most of the tests I take for industry certifications these days have to exceed 80%. The new passing percentages were both F's for me back when I was in school. These are the people that the Obama Administration wants policing the mean streets of Dayton.

A couple of thoughts come to mind immediately upon reading this article. Why does the Obama Administration have a say in the qualifications for Dayton's police? What will the citizens of Dayton think when they are pulled over by a black police officer in the future?

Are you suggesting that white citizens of Dayton, Ohio would need to fear about being pulled over by a black police offer for "DWW" -- Driving While White"?

The Dayton Daily News newspaper's editorial said it best.

The Dayton Daily News wrote:
Dayton is in desperate need of black applicants. There are roughly 650 Dayton police and firefighters and less than 40 are black in a city with 62,000 black residents. The fact a smaller percentage of blacks passed the police exam in November doesn’t help Dayton’s chances of improving those numbers.


In other words, only about 6.5% of Day's police and firefighters are African-American. The city's 62,000 black residents constitute 37% of the city's actual in-city population. (The population of the entire Dayton, Ohio metropolitan area is around 844,000.)

Moreover, this matter originated on September 11, 2008 -- which was during the final months of the Bush/Cheney administration.


Back on Sept. 11, 2008 on its website at http://www.whiotv.com/news/17447627/detail.html , Jill del Grecco, reporter for the Channel 7 TV station WHIO, wrote:
The letter (from the U.S. Department of Justice) states, "...the City's written examination for police officer (sic) and the City's requirement that firefighter applicants have EMT-Basic and Firefighter I and II certifications to be considered for hire - has resulted in a disparate impact upon African Americans."...

Randy Beane, the president of Dayton's Fraternal Order of Police, said he does not believe there is any discrimination in hiring officers, but believes there are fewer minorities on the police force because of a flaw in recruitment.

"We don't believe it's the test, we believe the test is a good instrument," Beane said. "(The problem is) that we are unable to get minorities to take the test. We need more African-Americans, we need more Latinos to take the test, and we need to develop an interest in becoming a police officer or firefighter."


So, apparently, the African-American community of Dayton, Ohio continues to perceive they're not wanted for consideration of hiring for such jobs. Until that perception is either duly addressed or convincingly corrected, the problem will persist.

 
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