Equity, assessment and gender
Innovations in assessment practice represent some of the most significant reforms in education in the UK in the last twenty years. Broadfoot (1996:168) argues that ‘prevailing social pressures, both ideological and practical may be analysed in terms of their manifestation in one of the defining characteristics of education systemsnamely assessment’. In her view, assessment techniques provide one of the central mechanisms by which the changing base for social control within the broader society are translated into the educational process. Nevertheless, debates about policy related to equal opportunities rarely consider the role assessment plays in enabling or inhibiting equality in educational opportunities or outcomes. Typically the outcomes of assessment are used to establish the ‘gender gap’ in achievement without making problematic the role that assessment practices play in determining the gap.