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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.
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.
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.