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.

Introducing fairness

Introducing fairness

‘These men ask for just the same thing, fairness and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.’ (Abraham Lincoln)

‘Life is not fair; get used to it.’ (Bill Gates)

Purpose of the book

‘“That’s not fair” is one of my daughter’s regular sayings’. So wrote one long-suffering mother on a consent form for an academic psychological study of children’s reactions to different scenarios (Evans et al., 2001, p. 212). Sensitivity to unfairness – particularly in the way we are treated ourselves – does seem to manifest itself early in our pre-social development. And that deep-rooted emotional response reappears in some of the comments made on social media by teenagers before and after their exams.1 However, ...

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