Part II Career-oriented Studies (COS)
Chapter 5 Recognition of and Quality Assurance for COS
5.6 A COS Committee will be established to oversee the development of C&A Frameworks for the six areas of studies by individual working groups. The Committee will also assess COS proposals from potential providers, oversee the QA of COS, and advise EMB on the implementation of COS as an integrated component of the NSS.
5.7 The Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation (HKCAA) will monitor course delivery, and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) will be responsible for the moderation of assessments made by individual course providers to assure comparability of assessment results within individual courses, and across the six COS areas of studies.
5.8 Schools regard quality as a key factor for the successful implementation of COS. They strongly support the QA framework. Similarly, a single COS committee to oversee the entire suite of COS courses was strongly supported.
5.9 Recognition arrangements are also supported in principle. School councils / educational bodies are satisfied that the link between HKDSE and QF can provide dual recognition for student progression for further studies and work.
Principals agree that the recognition for the three levels of performance in COS is sufficient to facilitate students’ academic and career progression. NGOs express confidence in COS recognition because the COC pilots have been recognised to date by the Civil Service Bureau, Federation for Continuing Education in Tertiary Institutions and HKEAA for the purpose of employment and further studies.
(A) COS Committee Concerns
5.10 School sponsoring bodies feel that the COS committee should include
experienced school heads and teachers.
The Way Forward
5.11 The current COS Committee, with school heads, teachers and representatives from various trades/industries as members, is a preparatory committee established to test the role of the committee and its composition before
“334” commences. Both the role and composition of the committee will be reviewed and revised periodically to develop an effective model before 2009.
5.12 In the longer term, this committee will be re-constituted as a Functional Committee of the Curriculum Development Council (CDC). CDC-HKEAA Committee will be set up for each area of studies which is jointly serviced by Curriculum Development Institute (CDI) and HKEAA. Members will be drawn from schools, the tertiary sector, HKCAA and relevant industries and professions.
(B) Roles and Capacities of Agencies Concerns
5.13 There is concern about the capacity of the current QA system as well as the agencies to handle the QA of a wide spectrum of COS courses. Questions are also asked about the different roles of CDI, HKCAA and HKEAA which are not clearly distinguished in people’s minds.
5.14 Others suggest that an independent QA institution should set objective standards of assessment to ensure the quality of courses, and prevent monopolisation by certain course providers.
The Way Forward
5.15 The ultimate goals of the QA mechanism are to ensure that the COS
courses are developed according to the design principles; the curriculum is delivered as planned; the learning outcomes of students can meet the standards which are set. These learning outcomes should be comparable within and across areas of studies of COS, and comparable with the learning outcomes of other NSS subjects.
5.16 These three aspects are being developed during the COC pilots by CDI, HKCAA and HKEAA respectively, under the overview of the COS Committee.
5.17 A fully mature QA mechanism will have additional aspects such as:
well-defined C&A frameworks for COS generally and for each of the six areas of studies;
course designs closely scrutinised by well represented committees;
providers adopting an agreed process for self-review of course delivery and assessment standards; and
articulation to workplace requirements through the QF or via professional qualifications recognised by professional bodies.
5.18 The COC piloting will serve to develop a model of QA which will clearly define the role of each of the agencies involved, and nurture its capacities to perform that role. Establishing a new agency may lead to duplication of work and unclear specification of responsibility.
(C) Assessment Concerns
5.19 There are concerns that 100% assessment by the course provider will lead to unfair assessment and affect the recognition of COS courses. Public examination for the theory elements was proposed.
The Way Forward
5.20 The applied learning within COS courses will be assessed in authentic contexts that allow students to apply their knowledge and skills. The assessment will balance the continuous assessment conducted throughout the duration of the course with end-of-module or end-of-course assessments.
5.21 The assessments will be carried out by the tertiary providers, and in some cases will be conducted within the schools. Tertiary providers will apply their existing professional assessment practices to COS to ensure that they are up to standard. HKEAA will moderate the assessments to ensure that the standards are consistent among different classes and across the years.
5.22 Splitting COS courses into theory and practice elements would be counterproductive for integrated applied learning. Testing the theory element in isolation through a public examination will also create too great a burden for the examination system because there will be a range of courses within the six areas, each with a comparatively small number of students. However, HKEAA is expected to coordinate the development of some common assessments that can apply within the areas of learning to assist in carrying out its moderation responsibilities.
(D) QF and HKDSE Concerns
5.23 Almost all stakeholders want to know more about the relationship between COS qualifications and SRA levels of the NSS subjects, especially the SRA level which will match the COS ‘attainment’ or competency level. Course providers also seek to clarify the relationship between COS courses and the Specification of Competency Standards (SCS) which are being developed by the industries and professions. There are also concerns about the articulation pathways available for
students completing COS courses. Professional bodies think that recognition should be given to the different levels of COC/COS students, particularly where the courses can articulate with the studies leading to professional qualifications.
The Way Forward
5.24 The relationship between COS qualifications and SRA levels of the NSS subjects, especially the SRA level which will match the ‘attainment’ or
‘competency level’ standards for COS, will be the subject of further investigation in the pilots that will continue for three further cohorts until “334” commences in the 2009/10 school year.
5.25 The 2006-08 pilots will begin to test the details of the levels and moderation of assessment. Course providers have been asked to define the learning outcomes of their courses and the assessable components of those outcomes, along with the assessment criteria. The providers are also asked to define the criteria of the award of ‘attainment’. This is a new discipline for course providers, but its refinement over the pilots will lead to the development of very clear standards for COS courses.
5.26 These clear standards will, in turn, provide the information to substantively link COS to the standards of the other subjects within HKDSE, which are under similar processes of development. Transcripts for all subjects, including COS, in the HKDSE will clearly set out the attainment standards met by students with appropriate descriptors to facilitate the articulation of COS to the QF. COS is currently in a piloting phase and in the process of seeking recognition of its qualifications. Universities will keep an open mind on the development and recognition of COS. Further recognition may be given in the admission requirements of certain faculties/departments in universities when COS is in full implementation under the NSS.