race norming

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the process of statistically adjusting the scores of minority job applicants on job-qualification tests by rating each test-taker's score against the results of others in his or her racial or ethnic group.
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Origin of race norming

First recorded in 1991
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does race norming mean?

The term race norming refers to the practice of using a person’s racial classification as a factor in adjusting the results of medical, psychological, neurological, or other similar tests or assessments.

In assessments that use race norming, such as aptitude tests or calculations of risk for certain conditions or diseases, the test subject’s racial classification is typically considered along with other factors, such as age and sex, with the stated aim of providing a result that’s more accurate due to accounting for demographic differences.

The practice is also sometimes called race adjustment, race correction, race-based score adjustment, or ethnic adjustment.

Early uses of the practice that became known as race norming involved adjusting the scores of aptitude and skills tests to account for biases thought to be contained in such tests. The practice has since been applied to medical and other assessments in different ways.

Race norming has come under widespread criticism due to evidence that it is often based on inaccurate data or assumptions and that it leads to overall poorer outcomes (especially health outcomes) for Black people and other people of color.

In such criticism, race norming is often cited as an example of systemic racism and as contrary to the understanding of race as a social construct that is not a reliable indicator of biological differences.

The practice of race norming became the focus of widespread media attention in 2021 due to reports that the practice had been used (under the name “demographic correction”) in tests to determine the level of cognitive decline in former National Football League (NFL) players. Specifically, these tests were alleged to have assumed a lower baseline level of cognition for Black players than for white players, making it more difficult for Black players to prove a loss of cognitive ability due to brain and head injuries (notably concussions) and the conditions linked to such injuries (including dementia). Some Black former players and their families sued the league, claiming that test results deprived them of the settlement they would have received if they had been white. The NFL later announced it would no longer use race norming in such tests, but litigation and aspects of the settlement are ongoing.

Where does race norming come from?

In the term race norming, the word norming is another word for adjusting, specifically the adjusting of test results based on certain characteristics of test subjects. It’s primarily used in the context of medical and psychometric testing.

The term race norming has been used since at least the early 1990s. Early uses of the term referred to a practice first used around the early 1980s by the U.S. Department of Labor. At that time, the scores of aptitude and skills tests for potential employees were adjusted due to the belief that biases within the tests had historically led to lower scores among test takers identified as Black and Hispanic.

The issue became a source of debate, with some opponents arguing that it constituted anti-white employment discrimination. Legislation made the use of the practice by government agencies illegal in 1991.

However, outside of government, forms of race norming have been applied in psychoneurological and other medical tests. Critics of such practices have shown evidence that such use, regardless of intent, is often detrimental to Black people and other people of color. Notably, critics have demonstrated in many cases that the adjustments made via race norming are based on unscientific foundations, and some institutions have ended such practices.

The term gained more widespread use and awareness in 2021 following reports that the practice had been used in the testing of former NFL players in a way that many claimed had disadvantaged nonwhite players.

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What are some synonyms for race norming?

  • race adjustment
  • race correction
  • race-based score adjustment
  • ethnic adjustment

What are some words that share a root or word element with race norming

What are some words that often get used in discussing race norming?

How is race norming used in real life?

The term race norming has historically been used in the context of psychometric, neurological, and medical testing. It is now commonly used in the context of criticism of the practice as being an example of systemic racism in healthcare and other fields.



How to use race norming in a sentence