No consensus reached on school assessments

Local | Sum Lok-kei Feb 15, 2018
Committee members reviewing the controversial city-wide school assessments have studied whether the test should be conducted biannually and through randomly selected schools.

However, the committee has yet to reach a consensus as to whether primary three students will need to take the test this year.

Speaking after the Coordinating Committee on Basic Competency Assessment and Assessment Literacy meeting, Sin Kim-wai, chairman of the Hong Kong Subsidized Secondary Schools Council, said numerous proposals had been tabled.

These included suspending the test for primary three students, doing the test biannually, randomly selecting schools to take the test, and ceasing to issue test reports to schools.

The proposals will now be analyzed before the committee files a report to the Education Bureau.

But nothing was concluded at yesterday's meeting, Sin said.

"We have not reached the stage of forming a consensus, but [we discussed] our concerns with the implementation [of the test]," he said.

Asked if the test will go ahead this year, Lam said the committee members failed to reach an unanimous decision. Some are concerned about how prepared the schools are, he said.

Sin also refused to say if the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority have drafted test papers to conduct the test this year.

The BCA was conducted in May last year, in which 510 primary schools participated, while some schools allowed students to opt out.

In the coming two to three weeks, Sin said the committee will organize the proposals and discuss the viable ones at its next meeting.

It will also seek the opinions of experts and scholars on how to conduct the test in a manner that will yield useful data and feedback to schools.

Sin also said the committee will look for ways to remove the drilling culture and ease parents' concerns.

The Education Bureau said it will decide if the BCA test for primary three students will go ahead this year once they receive the report from the committee.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said not every proposal mentioned by Lam could solve the core issues of the test. Despite this, the committee should consider them nonetheless.

Ip said the key issue is that the test creates a comparative culture between schools, leading to over-drilling and distortion in the school curriculum.

Ip reiterated the "Three-Nos" stance held by the Professional Teachers' Union, which is to keep the test anonymous for both students and schools, and not to issue test reports to schools.

If the committee decides that the predecessor of BCA, the Territory-wide System Assessment, should be brought back, Ip said it will spark a lot of debate.

Since 2004, the TSA was administered to primary three, primary six and secondary three students to test their competency in Chinese, English and mathematics.

It was replaced by the BCA in 2016, following reports of primary three students becoming stressed by the drilling culture.

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