CHAPTER 5 : ATTAINMENT TARGETS AND RELATED ASSESSMENT IN SCHOOLS
5.7 IMPLICATIONS OF INTRODUCING A FRAMEWORK OF ATTAINMENT TARGETS AND RELATED ASSESSMENTS
domains would be tried out, standardised and kept centrally in the ED for use by schools. It may be necessary at the later key stages to create assessments at different levels of difficulty to cover the range of achievements among students.
5.7 IMPLICATIONS OF INTRODUCING A FRAMEWORK OF ATTAINMENT TARGETS AND
be conducted and commissioned by ED* to establish and put into effect a framework of attainment targets and related assessments in those subjects to be developed first, that is, Chinese, English and Mathematics.
5.7.4 Attainment targets and levels will need to be described and then rigorously tried out in a number of pilot schools against the actual performance of students at the various key stages. It will be essential to ensure that the final attainment targets and levels are in line with the reality of student progress.
5.7.5 Assessments will also have to be designed and tried out, in order to ensure that they are valid and reliable, that they provide the sort of information needed by the various users and that they have a healthy and not a distorting influence on teaching and learning.
5.7.6 In paragraph 5.3.9, we examined the relationship between assessment and other elements in the curriculum. In order to enable teachers to implement the framework, it will be necessary to
-(i) produce new syllabus guidelines to help teachers to create their own appropriate schemes of work leading through the targets;
(ii) elaborate organisational and methodological guidelines to help teachers to cater for students of differing levels of ability and achievement;
* In paragraph 2.4.6 we recommended that, after its establishment, the CDI take on the task of developing further the framework of attainment targets and related assessments.
(iii) develop assessment guidelines to help teachers to understand and implement the framework and to work towards making all internal assessments target-related and based on criterion-referencing principles;
(iv) set up teams and identify publishers to produce new materials in those areas of learning not adequately covered by commercially available resources; and
(v) upgrade existing equipment in schools where necessary.
5.7.7 In paragraph 5.5.4 we recommended the development of a framework of attainment targets and related assessments. We now recommend, in addition, that the appropriate attainment targets and levels be drawn up and tried out, the related assessments based on criterion-referencing principles involving internal and external components be designed and tested, the appropriate guidelines and materials be produced, and the means to enable teachers to implement the framework outlined above be developed.
(b) Implications for teacher education
5.7.8 As we mentioned earlier, it is most important to secure the support of principals, heads of departments and teachers for the framework. We suggest, therefore, that they be involved as much as possible in the planning, research and development work. The ED and institutions concerned with teacher education will need to devise and conduct courses for new and existing teachers on using attainment targets, assessing students against these targets, preparing teaching materials and assessments, developing appropriate teaching methods and so forth.
5.7.9 We recommend that teachers be involved in the planning, research and development work relating to the framework. We also recommend that institutions concerned with teacher education should design courses to enable new and existing teachers to implement the framework.
(c) Effects on existing Hong Kong assessment practices and implications for the future
5.7.10 We would not wish the proposed new framework to increase the burden of assessment on students. We therefore recommend that the new target-related assessments based on criterion-referencing principles at Primary 3, Primary 6 and Secondary 3 should replace as far as possible existing assessments.
5.7.11 As in Section 5.4 we will examine each of the current assessment practices in turn with a view to recommending whether they should or should not be replaced.
(i) Internal school assessments
5.7.12 We believe that target-related internal school assessments based on criterion-referencing principles will provide better information on students' strengths and weaknesses than many forms of currently used internal school assessment. We believe that the former will encourage both higher and lower achievers to stretch themselves by enabling them to see the progress they have made against target rather than comparing themselves against others. We therefore recommend that schools should work towards making their internal assessments target-related and based on criterion-referencing principles at both primary and junior secondary levels.
(ii) The Hong Kong Attainment Tests
5.7.13 As the new target-related assessments based on criterion-referencing principles are expected to exert a more healthy influence on teaching and learning, and provide better performance indicators for the monitoring of standards, we recommend that they should gradually replace the HKATs.
(iii) The Secondary School Places Allocation
5.7.14 The SSPA arrangements currently involve school internal assessments scaled against the results of the AAT (which comprise verbal and numerical reasoning tests). We consider that the upper primary curriculum may be distorted if the SSPA system were only to take account of the new target-related assessments in Chinese, English and Mathematics. For this reason, we recommend that for the SSPA system, the assessments for Chinese, English and Mathematics be used in conjunction with the results of internal assessments for other subjects. We are of the view that this would probably provide an adequate basis for putting students into bands to assist placement in secondary schools as well as providing much useful information on students' strengths and weaknesses for teachers receiving them in Secondary 1.
5.7.15 We are concerned that even if TRA have been developed for all subjects, some predictive information obtained from the AAT might be lost if the former were used without the AAT. We recommend therefore that research be conducted to determine whether the Secondary School Places Allocation system should include the Academic Aptitude Test in the long run.
5.7.16 In Chapter 6, we will be proposing that information derived from target-related assessments in Chinese and English be used for grouping students for medium of instruction purposes.
(d) Timing implications
5.7.17 We recognise that the length of time required for the implementation of a comprehensive framework of attainment targets and assessments will be considerable. In the UK, we note, they are planning to take 10 years to implement their framework. As stated in paragraph 5.5.4, to begin with, we will concentrate our efforts and resources on the framework of targets and assessments for three subjects only : Chinese, English and Mathematics. Subject to further research, we estimate that this could be completed by 1994. In the longer term and subject to the effectiveness of the framework and assessments in Chinese, English and Mathematics, we recommend that targets and related assessments in other subjects should be considered.
(e) Teaching and learning strategies
5.7.18 The proposed framework of attainment targets and target-related assessments, will, as explained, have implications for organising teaching and learning in the classroom. For example, it is likely that classes will contain students at different levels of attainment. This will necessitate research to establish the best way to organise effective teaching and learning. The effectiveness of various approaches will need to be examined. It may be helpful, for example, to look at Mastery Learning. This involves the breaking up of the content of a course into discrete learning units or phases, each with clearly specified learning objectives. Phases are arranged in order of difficulty. A diagnostic test is administered at the end of each phase to establish whether students have mastered its content or not, and to identify the areas in which they experienced difficulty. Those who have mastered the particular unit or phase move on to the next one. Those who have not are given the curricular materials and support to overcome their difficulties. Thus, students acquire the
necessary foundation knowledge at each phase before moving on to the next.
5.7.19 We are aware from research that this technique has proved particularly beneficial in the following circumstances
-(i) for use in remedial teaching; and
(ii) for helping students master basic skills, such as literacy.
In Chapter 2, we have recommended that the CDI, when established, should take on the task of examining the feasibility of using Mastery Learning. In the meantime, we understand that the ED intends to set up a working group to conduct an early examination of all the implications of adopting the Mastery Learning approach.
5.7.20 An alternative strategy worth examining would be to promote Individualised Learning through the provision of appropriate resources and equipment to help students to learn to as high a level of attainment as they can reach.
5.7.21 We recommend that these and other techniques be further examined.
(f) Financial implications
5.7.22 The expenditure involved in developing the framework of attainment targets and related assessments in Chinese, English and Mathematics is estimated as follows ($ million at current prices)
1991-92 1992-93 1993-94 1994-95 1995-96
Recurrent 11.76 15.21 15.92 15.64 18.06
Non-recurrent - - 3.44 1.50
-Total 11.76 15.21 19.36 17.14 18.06
These estimates include the cost of developing the framework with trail runs, but not the cost of its general application to the school system on a permanent basis.
5.8 SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS