Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Nasir Hanif

You likely realize that most people have a natural affinity for others who look and think like themselves, meaning implicit bias can imperceptibly affect how a person treats others. 

Therefore, you also understand your responsibility to address implicit biases as you strive to give each pupil fair access to a proper education. By reviewing a few areas and adopting specific practices, you can meet the challenge of accurately assessing student needs regarding literacy and learning disabilities.  

Search for Where Your Hidden Biases May Lie  

Socrates famously stated that the first step to true wisdom is to “know thyself.” Testing yourself can be an excellent way to uncover subtle partialities or favoritism. The Implicit Association Test has become a popular starting point, with over 5 million site visits. However, you might find another tool you prefer. 

Also, ask for the honest comments of a trusted peer. You might not realize that you have lower expectations for boys than girls, or you could learn you aren’t fully aware of an English Language Learner’s capabilities with the right help. The key is to begin by looking in the figurative mirror. 

Involve and Engage with Parents 

The better people get to know each other, the less room there is for misconceptions and implicit biases. It can be easy to assume that parents of a certain socioeconomic status or ethnicity have little interest in a child’s education. However, a parent’s lack of engagement may be due to an unwelcoming environment at your facility. Likewise, a parent’s passion could present as anger or unreasonable demands. 

By doing what you can to express thankfulness for parental engagement and encouraging teamwork, you can more clearly see when a child’s sincere efforts are not getting commensurate results. Then, you can work alongside parents and other educators to use reading assessment tools that objectively indicate the possibility of a learning disability that needs attention. 

Embrace Continuous Training  

A danger lies in believing that the IAT and solo efforts are enough. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that using the IAT is only a starting point for addressing implicit biases. Continual professional development is critical to counteracting the tendency to favor one’s own race, gender, class, or other characteristic. 

Take full advantage of institutional program offerings on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. If there are no programs in your area, you can avail yourself of online groups or resources, such as those from Project Implicit or the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. 

Of course, you have limited time to add to your schedule. Still, you’ll accomplish most by doing a small amount regularly instead of trying to correct everything in one sitting. Set aside at least a half-hour weekly or, even better, 15 minutes daily for self-improvement in this area. 

Regularly Use Assessments to Obtain Objective Student Evaluations  

Fortunately, you also have access to objective assessments as an invaluable tool in discovering which students require aid in special education. Learn more about what WPS offers to support all populations, including its comprehensive (TOD™) Tests of Dyslexia for targeted and efficient learning disability interventions.

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