Chapter 5 Assessment
5.5 Public Assessment
5.5.2 Assessment Design
The table below shows the assessment design of the subject with effect from the 2025 HKDSE Examination. The assessment design is subject to continual refinement in the light of feedback from live examinations. Full details are provided in the Regulations and Assessment Frameworks for the year of the examination and other supplementary documents,
which are available on the HKEAA website
Component Weighting Duration
Paper 1 Compulsory Part 55% 2 hours
Paper 2 Elective Part (choose two options only)
2B Web Application Development 2C Algorithm and Programming
25% 1 hour
School-based Assessment (SBA) 20%
5.5.3 Public Examinations
In the public examination for the ICT curriculum, a standards-referenced approach will be adopted for grading and reporting student performance.
Different types of items are used to assess students’ performance in a broad range of skills and abilities. The types of items include multiple-choice questions and structured data-response questions. Schools may refer to the live examination papers regarding the format of the examination and the standards at which the questions are pitched.
5.5.4 School-based Assessment (SBA)
In the context of public assessment, SBA refers to assessments administered in schools and marked by the student’s own teachers. The primary rationale for SBA in ICT is to enhance the validity of the assessment by including the whole range of dimensions of learning in the curriculum: knowledge and understanding, generic skills and practical skills.
There are, however, some additional reasons for SBA in ICT. For example, it reduces dependence on the results of public examinations, which may not always provide the most reliable indication of the actual abilities of candidates. Assessments based on student performance over an extended period of time and developed by those who know the students best – their subject teachers – provides a more reliable assessment of each student.
Another reason for including SBA is to promote a positive “backwash effect” on students, teachers and school staff. Within ICT, SBA can serve to motivate students by requiring them to engage in meaningful activities; and for teachers, it can reinforce curriculum aims and good teaching practice, and provide structure and significance to an activity they are in any case involved in on a daily basis, namely assessing their own students.
With effect from the 2018 HKDSE Examination, in the SBA, students are required to complete two guided tasks focusing on ‘Design and Implementation’ and ‘Testing and Evaluation’ in the development of an information system. The context of the guided tasks is related to both the Compulsory Part and the Elective Part chosen by individual students.
Teachers are encouraged to inform students of the assessment criteria/guidelines before they start the guided tasks, and to provide regular feedback to them on ways to improve their learning.
Thirty hours of curriculum time have been allocated for SBA. While teachers should give students advice and guidance on their work, it is essential that each piece of work is clearly that of individual students. Very often, skills for completing SBA can be integrated into daily learning and teaching activities without imposing much extra workload on students and teachers. The following example is intended to illustrate this point.
Example 1 – Project skills incorporated into lessons Module: Computational Thinking and Programming Topic: Algorithm Design
Knowledge/generic skills to be assessed:
i) Outline the input and output requirements of a problem
ii) Design and construct standard algorithms involving basic control structures Activity description:
In a timed learning task, students are required to design an examination score calculator program to fulfil the following requirements.
let students input their examination scores by subject
assign a grade based on the score of each subject
calculate the average examination score
output the above results on screen.
Upon completion of the task, students should document the solution for presentation to the class later. In solving the problem, students will go through the following steps, with teacher guidance:
Testing and debugging
During the process, students are actually acquiring the essential project skills for completing their ICT coursework assessment, which include:
It should be noted that SBA is not an “add-on” element in the curriculum. The modes of SBA above are normal in-class and out-of-class activities suggested in the curriculum. The requirement to implement the SBA has taken into consideration the wide range of student ability, and efforts have been made to avoid unduly increasing the workload of both teachers and students. Detailed information on the requirements and implementation of the SBA and samples of assessment tasks are provided to teachers by the HKEAA.
5.5.5 Standards and Reporting of Results
Standards-referenced reporting is adopted for the HKDSE. What this means is that candidates’ levels of performance are reported with reference to a set of standards as defined by cut scores on the mark scale for a given subject. Standards referencing relates to the way in which results are reported and does not involve any changes in how teachers or examiners mark student work. The set of standards for a given subject can be represented diagrammatically as shown in Figure 5.1.
Figure 5.1 Defining levels of performance via cut scores on the mark scale for a given subject
Within the context of the HKDSE there are five cut scores, which are used to distinguish five levels of performance (1–5), with 5 being the highest. A performance below the cut score for Level 1 is labelled as ‘Unclassified’ (U).
For each of the five levels, a set of written descriptors has been developed to describe what the typical candidate performing at this level is able to do. The principle behind these descriptors is that they describe what typical candidates can do, not what they cannot do. In other words, they describe performance in positive rather than negative terms. These descriptors represent ‘on-average’ statements and may not apply precisely to individuals, whose performance within a subject may be variable and span two or more levels. Samples of students’ work at various levels of attainment are provided to illustrate the standards expected of them. These samples, when used together with the level descriptors, will clarify the standards expected at the various levels of attainment.
In setting standards for the HKDSE, Levels 4 and 5 are set with reference to the standards achieved by students awarded grades A–D in the HKALE. It needs to be stressed, however, that the intention is that the standards will remain constant over time – not the percentages awarded different levels, as these are free to vary in line with variations in overall student performance. Referencing Levels 4 and 5 to the standards associated with the old grades A–D is important for ensuring a degree of continuity with past practice, for facilitating tertiary selection and for maintaining international recognition.
The overall level awarded to each candidate is made up of results in both the public examination and the SBA. SBA results for ICT are statistically moderated to adjust for
students as determined by the school.
To provide finer discrimination for selection purposes, the Level 5 candidates with the best performance have their results annotated with the symbols ** and the next top group with the symbol *. The HKDSE certificate itself records the Level awarded to each candidate.