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Is Assessment Fair?

Is Assessment Fair?

September 2020 | 184 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Fairness in educational assessment has become a major talking point and allegations that assessments are unfair are commonplace on social media and in the press. But what does fairness mean in practice and how can we evaluate it?

This book offers a timely and necessary investigation, exploring the concept through the lenses of: measurement theory, social justice, the law and philosophy in order to put forward a template for fairness in educational assessment.

Drawing on international examples from the UK, US, Australia and South East Asia, this book offers a commentary on fairness that is highly relevant to the changing context of assessment today.

This book will be of interest to anyone with a professional or academic interest in educational assessment, to education policymakers and to all who are working to make assessment fair.

Chapter 1: Introducing fairness
Chapter 2: Fair assessment viewed through the lenses of measurement theory
Chapter 3: Fair assessment viewed through the lenses of professional standards, guidelines and procedures
Chapter 4: Fair assessment viewed through the lenses of the law
Chapter 5: Fair assessment viewed through the lenses of philosophy
Chapter 6: Fair assessment viewed through the lenses of social justice
Chapter 7: Conclusions, challenges and a template for fairness

This is a wide-ranging – from Aristotle to Big Data – view of fairness in educational assessment, that covers usually neglected areas such as philosophical and juridical underpinnings, while carefully explaining technical aspects in accessible terms.  Scholarly and thorough, it never loses sight of the fact that fairness affects real people – teachers, parents, employers, higher education and most importantly students – who sometimes have only one shot at doing well in an increasingly narrow assessment system.

Dr Tina Isaacs
Honorary Associate Professor, UCL Institute of Education

Nisbet and Shaw provide a comprehensive and thoughtful discussion of fairness in assessment, and far beyond assessment, employing multiple lenses (measurement theory, professional standards, law, philosophy, and social justice) to examine fairness from different angles, and their analyses of the concept will certainly enrich discussions of its use in assessment.

Michael Kane
Educational Testing Service

Everyone wants educational assessment to be valid and fair, but what do these terms really mean in practice? Over the last 50 years, a great deal of effort has gone in understanding what we really mean by validity, but what we mean by fairness has received little attention—until now. In this important, timely, and highly readable book, Isabel Nisbet and Stuart Shaw offer us a comprehensive set of perspectives on assessment—theoretical, professional, legal, philosophical and social justice—that enables to see how debates about whether particular assessment practices are fair are often really disguised debates about what fairness means. As issues of fairness assume greater importance in the coming years, the book will be an invaluable guide to thinking clearly about the challenges that all those professionally and personally involved in educational assessment will face in making assessment fairer.

Dylan Wiliam
Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment, UCL Institute of Education

This book was very thought provoking and will widen our trainees's perceptions and understanding of this multifaceted classroom activity I am really looking forward to some session discussions informed by everyone reading this book

Mrs Kim Lawler
Department Education, Bradford College
February 11, 2022

A useful publication which includes a range of perspectives, both domestic and international, allowing students to see alternative viewpoints in the discussion about whether assessment is fair. This publication allowed my students to see the perceived impact of issues surrounding assessment beyond their own experience within the classroom.

Mrs Gabrielle Morley
School of Education, University Centre Blackburn
May 12, 2021

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ISBN: 9781526474926
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