Members of a committee set up by the Education Bureau to review the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) for primary three students have different views on whether the exercise should be abolished, Ming Pao Daily reported on Monday.
Kam Yee-ning, convenor of a concern group advocating TSA’s abolition, said the TSA is an unnecessary exercise.
TSA was officially launched in 2004 to monitor the quality of teaching in schools by assessing the students’ academic performance.
But Kam said that unless it is done randomly without recording the names of the schools and students, the exercise will continue to push schools to put pressure on their students in order to get good grades.
Legislator Ip Kin-yuen, who is also vice president of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU), said the education bureau should find the source of pressure for schools and review the mechanism for reporting the assessment results.
The review committee, which was established last October, is composed of 12 members and chaired by Deputy Secretary for Education Catherine Chan Ka-ki.
Committee member Prof. Hau Kit-tai, pro vice chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and chairman of the CUHK’s Department of Educational Psychology, said removing the TSA will not resolve the issue of schools drilling their students to get good grades.
Hau said members of the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools should inform parents of the number of TSA and non-TSA exercises and the number of hours of after-school tutorial classes they hold for students.
Commenting on Hau’s suggestions, Leung Siu Tong, honorary chairman of Hong Kong Aided Primary School Heads’ Association, said parents should allow schools and teachers to exercise their professional judgement on teaching.
Leung said in one to two years’ time, schools would make the appropriate adjustments after the issue has drawn so much public attention.
Professor Magdalena Mok Mo-ching, chair professor of assessment and evaluation, Department of Psychological Studies, and co-director of the Assessment Research Center at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, said she understands the concerns of parents.
Mok said the TSA should be reviewed after several years of implementation.
Mok is against its abolition but suggested a system that will use different examination papers for students of varying levels. This would eliminate the pressure on students and the results cannot be directly compared.
Ambrose Chong Siu-man, principal of Lai King Catholic Secondary School who also sits on the review committee, said the TSA should be retained as it serves as an assessment tool to help in formulating education policies.
However, he agreed that the specifics of the assessment could be improved and optimized.
Another committee member who asked not to be identified said the TSA should be abolished as it is way too early to assess students when they are only in primary three.
If the TSA is retained, the number of test papers should be reduced.
– Contact us at [email protected]