AA in action (Test Scam)

Topics: AA
22 Jan 1991


I posted this last week, though you might not all have seen it.
The Virginia Employment Commission tested (in '89) people seeking employment
with a test called the GATB. The scores returned to the job seeker
and the job provider were the percentile score (relative to other
applicants) and not the raw score. But no, some AA proponents decided,
that since Blacks are equal in practice and not just in potential,
to norm the scores within each racial group instead of overall. So,
blacks looked better than they actually were and whites looked worse.
The VEC told no one that this was how the test was scored. The truth
had to wait for a whistle blower to tell a local newspaper. The irony
is that companies used the GATB because many of their self administered
tests were found to be discrimanatory!

I am losing count of how many things are wrong with this. For one,
some whites that did not get jobs were told they did not get the jobs because
they were not qualified, when they were. Some Blacks which were not
qualified were given the job under the expectation they were. At the
very least that was not to the benefit of the companies involved since
they hired inferior employees based on a rigged system. It possibly
is not beneficial to the lucky individuals because they are now
expected to work beyond their capacity. They are therefore more likely
to be fired. It certainly leads to the impression that Blacks are
inferior because under this system they actually are on the average
for any given company. The system rewards failure. By norming the
scores it assumes that all of the inequity in Black hiring is because of
prejudice and none of it is due to the actual lower abilities of Blacks
(unjust perhaps, but true). Therefore, no matter how low the abilities
of the Black community sink the GATB system would provide them with
the same jobs.

Finally, I want to get back to my big question number 3. Why just norm
for race? Why not norm for sex? Religion? Sexual preference?
Handicap status? How about the guy (also posted last week) that filed
a discrimination case because he lost a job because he was fat?
There tends to be a thread of socialist thinking to assign blame for
what is wrong in person's life to circumstances or society and not to
the individual's own volition. The argument as usually stated does
not admit to a line being drawn. Let's just norm for every factor
we can find on the test. After we have normed for all the usual things
plus childhood poverty status, quality of education, quality of parents,
etc. We can show that everyone is really equal after all. Some of
the janitors and professors can trade jobs since there is not any
real (post normed) difference in their ability after all.