Throughout the chapters of this book I have been concerned with the purposes and uses of assessment. The importance of the purpose has been highlighted as basic to the what, how and when assessment takes place within the broad formative-summative dichotomy. The relationship of assessment to teacher and school accountability, to pupil motivation, and to elements of social and quality control, are stressed as fundamental features of assessment arrangements and particularly in the new initiatives such as the National Curriculum and ROA. However, in attempting to achieve the purposes and in utilizing assessment practices and results, there are often latent and unintended consequences of assessment. Some unintended consequences are readily seen and experienced, such as the examination 'industry' and the bureaucratic procedures needed to sustain it. These are deemed necessary and unquestioned in the search for fairness, justice, standardization and comparability. However, there are other not so obvious consequences of assessment such as expectations and labelling, and the pervasive nature of assessment and evaluation in teachers' and pupils' lives (Carroll, 1976a). Much of the work looking at expectations and labelling has not been done directly in relation to assessment, although it is, in effect an assessment of the child and consequences of it. It has tended to be divorced from assessment, for example, Hargreaves work on labelling with its roots in deviance theory (Hargreaves, Hester and Mellor, 1975), and Nash's work on expectations (Nash, 1973).
Carroll (1986b) makes the link more directly than most between labelling and assessment:
Labelling is a complex process, and at its heart is an assessment of pupils in the teachers' care. Assessment is an in vogue concept at the moment and is acceptable. An analysis of the labelling process does give us clues as to how the teacher assesses pupils, and this study has shown some of the cues, criteria and consequences of the teachers' assessment and identification. So 'what's in a name?' It means clear identification and status with its resulting consequences, either negatively or positively. It is both a resource and a framework for pupil action. It is more than a mere label. (p. 27)