Assessment and Social Justice

John Gardner, Bryn Holmes, Ruth Leitch

01 January 2009

This review examines the role that educational assessment plays within a social justice context. It relates mainly to educational assessments for school-age students but draws on examples and experiences across the whole spectrum of ages and phases. Our concept of assessment is all-embracing. It covers assessments that range from the ad hoc classroom interaction between students and teachers at the formative end of the spectrum to high-stakes selection for jobs and university places at the summative end. The pursuit of social justice is viewed as a process that aims to ensure that differences in people’s opportunities to access society’s benefits are recognised and addressed in order to maximise equity of outcome. Assessment for social justice therefore takes in any form of assessment that has the potential to reduce the effects of a variety of disadvantages that learners may experience.

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