The Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination is administered by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Most candidates take four core subjects - Chinese and English languages, mathematics and liberal studies - and two or three elective subjects. Results are divided into five levels, with 5 being the highest. A Level 5 with the best performance will be awarded a 5**.
Exam body to review plagiarism prevention
Focus on cheating comes as lawmaker slams school head's response to revelations
Shirley Zhao and Natalie Wai
The city's examination body will discuss with teachers a spate of plagiarism cases that saw 23 pupils taught by the same teacher at the same private school disqualified from the Diploma of Secondary Education examination this year, authorities say.
The incident will be a case study in an annual review of the exams, in which the Examinations and Assessment Authority plans to advise teachers on how to prevent similar cases in future.
The review would likely be held after the new academic term began in September, a spokesman for the authority said.
On Sunday, the authority revealed it had invalidated the Chinese-language exam papers of the 23 pupils after it found their school projects, which counted towards grades, included plagiarised passages from the internet.
The pupils studied at the same branch of the private Modern College but were not in the same class. Without a score for the subject, they are effectively barred this year from entering a local university.
After the official revelation, Modern College said it had suspended the teacher, whose identity it refused to provide.
"That teacher was too honest" in passing on the pupils' work in its original form to the authority, college chief principal Kason Chan Kay-sang said.
He said it was possible for other schools to refine pupils' work before submitting it for marking.
Education-sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen criticised his response as a "serious accusation" about the education industry, saying Chan implied plagiarism was a common phenomenon.
"If the principal does not have evidence to support his statement, he should take it back and apologise to the education sector," Ip said.
He said teachers at the college had to travel frequently among its four branches, which could easily get in the way of their monitoring of pupils' work.
He also said the teacher had resigned in March, long before the college announced the suspension this week.
Chan insisted the school was not responsible for the plagiarism, blaming the examinations authority for not providing software to check pupils' work.
The authority's spokesman said it had provided principals and teachers with guidelines on procedures and regulations on preventing and dealing with plagiarism. He said it did not plan to require all schools to install plagiarism-detecting software.
Many secondary graduates felt the case had damaged the fairness of the exam and appreciated the authority's decision to disqualify the students involved.
Another three pupils who were disqualified were found to have plagiarised in their projects in history and liberal studies.