"We must never discount the persistent rump of disingenuous educationalists and assessors who consider that the primary role of assessment is to separate the ‘chaff from the wheat,’ the weak from the able, the malingerers from the stalwarts of tomorrow’s society. For them, assessment can categorise and organise; it is simply inevitable that those who have will get more, and those who have not – tough luck.
As we have indicated earlier, we see assessment as being a process that should be used primarily in support of learning. In all that assessment does it must be fair and seen to be fair, as expressed by the AERA Standards (AERA et al. 1999). Camara and Lane (2006) express fairness as a lack of bias in items and tests, examinees having comparable opportunities to demonstrate their standing on a construct, there being comparable outcomes across groups, and individuals and groups having adequate opportunities to learn.
Social justice aims to create circumstances in which society’s current inequities are eradicated, or at least their worst disadvantages are mitigated. If a high-stakes assessment is being used, for entry to university for example, social justice demands that students should not be disadvantaged by circumstances and influences that have nothing to do with the constructs under examination. Plummer (2003) would see these circumstances as the ‘Big 8’ dimensions of diversity: race, gender, ethnicity/nationality, organizational role, age, sexual orientation, mental/physical ability, and religion. At the risk of discriminating against some of these, we will look briefly at disability; the
combination of language, culture, race, ethnicity, and poverty; and gender."
Excerpt from Assessment and Social Justice - Report 16 by John Gardner, Bryn Holmes, and Ruth Leitch, prepared for FutureLab.org.uk