Our continued commitment to change

At our 2020 Admissions Summit, we started providing updates on our commitment to change, which includes making our assessments more equitable and fair. This is important to us because our partners and everyone at Altus are collectively striving to create a world served by exceptional professionals from all walks of life.

At this year’s Admission Summit, we provided three major updates:

Fairness and equity:

We are proud of Casper and our new assessments, Snapshot and Duet. Though we strive to deliver fair and equitable assessments, we acknowledge that we fall short of this goal. Over the past year we’ve made positive strives in this mission:

  • We continue to work with our partner programs, applicants, and external experts to do the work and research necessary to make our assessment more equitable. This includes implementing intersectionality in assessment design delivery. We also have exciting partnerships that we are eager to share over the next little while.
  • We’re running a number of experiments, including testing the feasibility, reliability, and fairness of different response formats in Casper.
  • We’ve increased our research team over the past year, and have shared our updated demographic differences data in the 2021 version of The Altus.

Although no assessment is perfect, we should never stop working on improving them. We look forward to keeping you updated on our general research plans, and of course, sharing these outcomes with the community to make all assessments more fair, not just ours.

Implicit bias:

More than ever, we’ve been relying far more on video during COVID-19, making the understanding of implicit bias more important than ever. We offered some tips:

  • Acknowledge it: implicit bias is real
  • Take time to make informed decisions: are you using the data that you have, or is something else influencing you?
  • Focus on the individual: not race, not gender, not what they’re wearing, not even what’s hanging on the walls behind them
  • Understand and address it on a regular basis: you don’t just learn it and that’s it – you need to keep working on it

We are proud to contribute to this conversation with additional resources and material, including an upcoming video on how to identify and avoid implicit bias. We will encourage you and everyone on your team to watch it.

At this year’s Admissions Summit, one of our themes was diversity and inclusion, which included a powerful keynote from Valerie Alexander based on her TEDx talk “How to outsmart unconscious bias in recruitment and admissions“.

Kamloops residential school:

Lastly, we need to acknowledge and honor the 215 children whose lives were horrifically taken at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC. The discovery of this mass grave, and all the mass graves and lives of Indigenous peoples that are still unaccounted for, have haunted each and every one of us. This nation, like many, was built on the displacement and ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples and systems that were put in place to erode Indigenous histories, cultures, languages, and self-actualization. The residential school system was a tool of genocide and colonial violence that formed the foundation of the Canada we know today as we remain settlers on this land. It is important for us to acknowledge that the violence and displacement of Indigenous peoples is not a figment of the past as is often stated, but rather an active and ongoing act of colonization. The last residential school in Canada was closed in 1996, meaning that there are many Indigenous families today who continue to face the trauma experienced in those schools, and the perpetrators of those acts have still not been brought to justice for their crimes. Indigenous peoples remain marginalized and oppressed in our societies, and violence against Indigenous communities persists. 

At Altus, we are engaging and building relationships with Indigenous teachers and consultants to explore the structures and barriers to entry into health sciences for Indigenous people. Our goal is to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing into the blueprint of our assessments and develop content that is safe for Indigenous applicants.

Our hearts go out to all the residential school victims’ families and survivors, including those unaccounted for. Mourning together is also to heal together. As a way of showing our support, we will be making a donation on behalf of the team at Altus and the Admissions Summit attendees to various local charities that support Indigenous issues.

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress, and welcome feedback to help us on this continuing journey.

– The team at Altus Assessments

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash