Part III New Senior Secondary Academic Structure for Special Schools
Chapter 9 Development of Curriculum and Assessment Framework
9.1 The common curriculum framework developed by CDC should govern student learning through the 12-year primary and secondary education, with emphasis on the concept of whole-person development through a balanced and manageable curriculum relevant to the needs of students. Students with SEN but not ID should aim at achieving the same curricular objective for NSS, and will be assessed on the same criteria but with special accommodation. EMB and HKEAA will put in place appropriate arrangements to help them.
9.2 For students with ID, the NSS C&A framework will only be successful if it can cater for students with different needs, abilities and interests and develop their potential to the full. Therefore, the curriculum design for students with ID will be adapted to meet the specific needs of students.
9.3 Assessment modes to reflect the performance of students with ID based on their capacity, needs and interests under the “334” structure will also be proposed.
Summary of the Proposal in the Consultation Document
9.4 The design principles are:
The seven learning goals of the common curriculum framework will be adapted to suit the characteristics and practical needs of individual students, in terms of content, pace of learning, and expected learning outcome.
Prior Knowledge in Basic Education
The NSS curriculum for students with ID (NSS(ID) curriculum) should help students progress beyond the basic education that they have attained. Evidence-based assessment of students’ prior knowledge and experience already acquired will inform the design of school-based curriculum and Individualised Education Programme (IEP) under the senior secondary curriculum.
The Structure and Learning Outcomes of NSS(ID) Curriculum
Language, mathematics and independent living will form the core of learning to meet the practical needs of work and the life beyond schooling. Where appropriate, the core is complemented by electives or other school-based programmes, including OLE to reinforce the development of positive values and attitudes, and the capability to explore and learn in an authentic environment.
The curriculum framework would be supported by the development of learning outcomes which will indicate what students are expected to achieve. With clear learning outcomes, feedback to learning of students with ID could be given to improve learning, and their achievements could also be recognised.
Each school needs to establish an effective mechanism for developing a school-based curriculum framework, stating the expected learning outcomes with due regard for the characteristics of its students, and monitoring the progress of learning. In this connection, the common curriculum framework provides the building blocks for constructing the school curriculum to prepare students for opportunities and experiences for quality adult life. The curriculum intentions and expected learning outcomes should be aligned to avoid
inconsistencies expectations amongst different components of a student programme.
Interface with Further Education and the World of Work
The NSS(ID) curriculum in general and the IEP in particular should prepare students for independent living and post-school learning opportunities at skills centres, integrated vocational training centres or other forms of training and employment.
9.5 The NSS(ID) curriculum framework comprises the three components of Core, Elective and OLE. The learning targets and broad learning outcomes will be expressed in terms of a continuum to facilitate the planning, development, implementation and evaluation of the school-based curriculum geared to the learning needs of students with ID. Some students with ID could aspire to attain threshold Level 1 in HKDSE for all or some of the subjects. Other students with ID would have educational programmes which cater for their needs and are based on high expectations of progress.
9.6 The broad learning outcomes would initially be developed with reference to overseas experiences and be validated in the local context through a pilot. In the course of development, HKEAA will explore and develop an assessment mechanism that helps recognise the achievements of students with ID.
9.7 COS courses with appropriate adaptation would be developed for students with SEN as electives to provide choice and to help improve the employability of the students. To better cater for the needs of students with SEN, consideration will be given to inviting NGOs which have a proven record of serving these students to be course providers. Students with SEN who follow the ordinary school curriculum, in principle, should take the same COS courses as other students.
Where necessary, special arrangements or support will be provided, e.g. reading aid for students with visual impairment.
9.8 Students with SEN studying the ordinary curriculum are expected to take part in school assessment and public assessment leading to the HKDSE like other students. EMB and HKEAA will provide special accommodations such as seating arrangements, time allowance, tools and assistive technology, format and layout of examination papers, exemptions, etc. to support access to the assessment processes.
9.9 For students with ID, the flexibility provided by the curriculum framework will support schools in customising learning programmes to meet the requirements of a broad and balanced curriculum for all children. It is desirable for these students to have a strengthened IEP at different stages of learning. Each student should have a SLP that recognised his/her full range of achievement.
9.10 As a mechanism for monitoring the learning outcome of teaching, IEP will provide impetus and stimulus for teachers to experiment with new approaches.
The Basic Competency Assessment (BCA) could also be appropriately adapted for students with ID as a means to gauge students’ progress in learning and to identify areas for improvement.
9.11 As a long-term goal, systemic assessment will be developed to give recognition to the achievements and efforts of students with ID. The involvement of HKEAA early in the development of curriculum-related learning outcomes framework (LOF) for students with ID will ensure continuity of experiences in providing public assessment and certification of students with SEN in the long run.
(A) The NSS(ID) Curriculum Support
9.12 The principle of “one curriculum framework for all” with adaptations to suit the different learning needs and capabilities of students with SEN is strongly
9.13 Schools strongly agree that the time allocation of 45-55% for core, 20-30%
for electives and 15-35% for OLE allows sufficient flexibility for the design of the school-based curriculum. A summary of survey findings is provided in Appendix 2.
9.14 Respondents generally support the core, elective and OLE as components of NSS(ID) curriculum and its educational goal of going beyond rehabilitation to whole-person development and independent living. Schools and parents strongly agree that the proposed elements of literacy, numeracy and independent living included in the core component are essential for every student with ID.
9.15 Schools for students with ID generally support the development of NSS(ID) curriculum to be tried out through the Research and Development (R&D) projects from 2006 onwards.
9.16 Parents are concerned about how the curriculum of special schools, particularly the NSS(ID) curriculum, will interface with the ordinary school curriculum and its impact on integration.
9.17 Schools are concerned about the learning time and learning contents of the core and elective subjects, the number of electives to be offered and the enrolment threshold for an elective subject to be offered.
9.18 Some teachers are concerned about the interface between the basic education curriculum and the NSS curriculum in the absence of standardised/recognised learning outcomes across schools. They are also interested in how learning outcomes after 12 years of education will be recognised.
9.19 Schools see the constraints in offering electives to students in special schools with one class at a level.
9.20 Though the functional curriculum is considered essential for students with ID, EMB should be mindful of the limited breadth of such a curriculum and its over-emphasis on independent living.
9.21 The NSS(ID) curriculum should also cover students with ID studying in non-ID special schools for HI and PD and in ordinary schools as well.
The Way Forward
9.22 The NSS(ID) curriculum aims to provide a reference for access to the common curriculum framework and for the development, implementation and evaluation of school-based curriculum. It also provides support for teachers to set targets to meet the diverse needs of students and to structure teaching. The continuum of curriculum targets and learning outcomes facilitates teachers in setting appropriate challenge for the students and enables teachers and parents to assess their performance.
9.23 Since schools for ID students currently do not offer senior secondary curriculum, EMB will conduct R&D projects from the 2006/07 to 2008/09 school years jointly with schools, local and overseas experts in ID to provide the professional and practical knowledge and experiences necessary for finalising the NSS(ID) curriculum framework and learning outcomes. The future NSS(ID) curriculum is not a prolonged programme of the current basic education of students with ID. It will have learning contents and outcomes which are different from those of the previous stage of learning, making them age-appropriate and attainable having regard to the students’ abilities and needs.
9.24 The R&D projects should be able to inform schools and parents of the requirements and expectations of the students upon completing the 6-year
secondary education. The project will undertake to identify and specify learning goals and contents, and to develop practicable assessment procedures which indicate progress towards the specified learning outcomes. It will also shed light on the resources and manpower requirements for the effective implementation of NSS(ID).
9.25 The R&D projects will be launched in overlapping phases commencing in September 2006 to support the NSS(ID) curriculum development:
Phase 1 (the 2006/07 school year)
A trial run of the broad curriculum framework for core subjects. A draft curriculum framework on core subjects with expected learning outcomes will be proposed for schools’ reference. Based on the framework, seed schools of the R&D projects will try out the learning activities and fine-tune the framework having regard to the learning objectives and expected learning outcomes. On-site expert support would be provided to facilitate project development. It is expected that the try-out will also inform the implementation arrangements for schools’ reference.
Phase 2 (2nd term of the 2006/07 school year)
Development of the broad curriculum framework on elective subjects of NSS(ID). The broad framework will be fine-tuned and tried out in the 2007/08 school year.
Phase 3 (the 2007/08-2008/09 school years)
Refinement of the curriculum framework for core, elective subjects and OLE for the production of the C&A Guides of the NSS(ID) curriculum.
9.26 The C&A Guides of core subjects of the NSS(ID) curriculum will be completed by 2008 for schools’ reference, whereas the draft C&A Guides on elective subjects will be developed by mid-2009. Curriculum resource materials such as packages, and exemplars will be collected and disseminated in phases to
schools to support school-based curriculum development.
9.27 The C&A Guides of the NSS(ID) curriculum aim to support schools by providing a reference, inter alia, for measuring the progress of students. The whole set of C&A Guides will be available by the 2009/10 school year (see Chapter 13 for the critical milestones). The continuum of learning needs and outcomes suggested should not be taken as a full description of all that students might and will achieve. The development of the continuum is a necessary step towards the possible development of a systemic assessment for students with ID in future.
The diagram below shows the learning needs continuum and its relation to different Key Stages of the curriculum and the learning outcomes continuum. The sub-level outcomes would be supported by descriptors and exemplars.
9.28 Given that such measurable learning outcomes need to be widely adopted and agreed through extensive consultation with the stakeholders in the special education sector, the development of systemic assessment for students with ID in collaboration with HKEAA is expected to begin by 2012 the earliest.
9.29 The R&D projects will also shed light on the curriculum orientation and contents for Liberal Studies for students with ID. Depending on its relevance to students, schools can broaden the “independent living” to include general studies that embrace skills and values.
9.30 In the transition to 2009, to reap the benefit of the Extension of Years of Education (EYE) programme, it is essential for schools as a first step to identify
and review what their current students have learned and achieved. This will help them determine areas of work, prioritise and set targets for the EYE programme in the transition to NSS. Professional judgments would be needed on whether the current school-based curriculum is setting appropriate levels of learning outcomes and having reasonable expectation for students. In the quest for continuous improvement, special schools of similar characteristics are encouraged to work together to agree on the use of common learning outcomes. EMB will assist in networking schools to prepare for the implementation of the NSS(ID) curriculum.
9.31 A Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide (SSCG) will be available to all schools in December 2006 to provide guidance for schools to develop a whole-school curriculum relevant to the needs of students and to deliver effective learning and teaching. Supplements to the Basic Education Curriculum Guide (BECG) and SSCG will be prepared to help teachers make adaptation to suit the diverse learning needs of students with reference to the priority and emphasis of the school curriculum.
9.32 As schools are at different starting points in NSS in terms of experience gained in EYE programme, professional capacity and facilities, they should also make decision on strategic implementation of the NSS curriculum.
(B) The Position of Adapted COS in the NSS(ID) Curriculum Support
9.33 Schools and school sponsoring bodies consider that the goals and directions of adapted COS courses would better prepare students with SEN for vocational training and continuous learning after NSS.
9.34 There is support for the piloting of adapted COC for students with ID to explore the feasibility of the courses for students with ID. Some principals and teachers request the development of a sub-level outcomes framework for COS.
However, there is also a general agreement that qualifications or accreditations of adapted COS courses for students with ID should be a long-term goal.
9.35 It is generally agreed that adapted COS is not for vocational training. It is to promote students’ vocational awareness and provide some related experiences of work. It is also generally agreed that students with profound ID can be provided with such experiences under OLE rather than through formal involvement in adapted COS.
9.36 Both parents and schools express concern about the course fee and accreditation of adapted COS for students with SEN.
9.37 Another concern is the types and choice available for students with SEN.
To ensure that adapted COS can maximise the benefits to students with SEN, including students with ID, schools consider that the class size, mode of service delivery, course fees, recognition, articulation with vocational training after the NSS, etc. are issues to be addressed.
9.38 Principals opine that networking with other schools to allow students to access an adapted COS would be difficult in view of accommodation and transportation problems.
9.39 Schools want more implementation details including minimum enrolment for participation in an elective/COS course, assessment of ID students’ performance in COS courses and connection to the QF, the timing for Junior Secondary Education Assessment results and application for adapted COS courses, as problems may arise in the case of transfers from special schools to ordinary schools.
The Way Forward
9.40 EMB will liaise with course providers and coordinate existing resources to ensure students taking the adapted COS(ID) courses will benefit. In the piloting of COC(ID) courses to pave the way for COS(ID) courses, EMB will coordinate with service providers to review course content, to ensure better articulation and consult schools on the mode of delivery for proper deployment of manpower and resources. In the phase 1 piloting starting from 2006-08, only students with mild grade and higher-end moderate grade ID will be involved.
9.41 The adapted COC pilot for ID students will commence in 2006. It is not intended to provide pre-employment training but to achieve the objectives of whole person development, enhancement of vocational awareness and generic skills through vocational education. For those with higher capabilities in the mild grade, it also aims to provide an initial experience of the requirements of a professional or vocational field and enhance the preparedness of students to proceed to post-secondary pathways. Two course providers, namely Hong Chi Association and Vocational Training Council (VTC) will offer four courses, Hotel Housekeeping, Food Preparation, General Duties, and Western Bakery and Pastry to mild grade and higher-end moderate grade ID students in 2006-08.
9.42 EMB will work in collaboration with service providers to explore the possibility of offering a wider range of adapted COS courses for students with SEN including students with ID. It will ensure effective deployment of resources that no student is deprived of the opportunity for education in NSS.
(C) Assessment Support
9.43 Stakeholders support the rationale and direction of building up a systemic assessment for students with ID as a long-term goal.
9.44 Schools generally support the development of sub-levels of LOF for students with lower abilities. They also support using SLP to indicate the achievement of students with SEN.
9.45 Respondents agree that IEP should be formulated in collaboration with parents for better monitoring of students’ learning progress.
9.46 There are concerns about the assessment accommodations required for students with SEN at NSS level.
9.47 Schools are concerned about using BCA to measure the learning progress of students with ID as they consider that BCA is too demanding for these students.
9.48 There is a suggestion that EMB should work in collaboration with HKEAA, special schools and other local or overseas experts for the development of a systemic assessment.
The Way Forward
9.49 Assessment is an integral part of the teaching process to provide information for the improvement of learning and teaching. In this regard, one of the challenges for schools is to assess the students’ performance against the objectives set for the learning programmes. It is also important for schools to consider how the assessment criteria, the data collection arrangements and record keeping can be improved.
9.50 The development of a common set of learning outcomes that will provide reference for comparison to be made among students with similar learning characteristics will enable schools to learn from one another on how to improve students’ performance.
9.51 The development of LOF for students with ID will start in the 2007/08 school year, capitalising on the experiences gained from the R&D projects to be launched in September 2006. The initial LOF will pave way for commencing the preparatory work in 2012 for the development of a systemic assessment. In view of the diverse learning needs and characteristics of students with ID, the first level of the LOF could be further developed or fine-tuned to describe performance at sub-levels of Level 1 in collaboration with HKEAA. The levels and the contents of LOF should be measurable and reflect both students’ generic skills and knowledge required for further training and transition to adult life. Extensive consultation with stakeholders in the special education sector will be conducted during the developmental process.
9.52 Schools should make the best use of the flexibility provided by the curriculum framework to construct a purposeful and challenging school-based curriculum that will take care of the needs for whole-person development. It is essential that the curriculum should provide an appropriate starting point from which students can build on the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes they have already developed, and provide relevant and appropriate contents that match students’ need, and purposeful activities to provide learning in an authentic environment.
9.53 Setting targets for individual students in special schools for the ID is as important as providing age-related and group programmes. IEP is intended to address the specific and individual educational needs of students. They are set to help meet individual priorities and may address basic skills and aspects of behaviour, rather than strategic whole-school target. Each IEP should be tailor-made to cater for the unique needs of a particular student. It should cover specific, measurable and attainable targets and include achievement criteria, strategies, parties involved and the date of interim review. Tracking the progress and performance of students through IEP enables teachers to identify specific areas in which students need to be given appropriate support for improvement.