Hong Kong schools

Hong Kong schools ready for boycotts as pupils sit revamped tests

Member of committee reviewing controversial exam reveals she quit after her suggestions to solve the problem of overdrilling were ignored

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 May, 2017, 10:19pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 May, 2017, 10:55pm

The first pupils sat rebranded tests on Thursday, with schools prepared for anyone boycotting the exams.

On the same day, it emerged that a member of a committee tasked with reviewing the controversial assessments of Primary Three pupils had quit three months ago, citing health reasons and complaints that her ideas were ignored.

In a random selection from the 500 schools scheduled to take part in the Basic Competency Assessment (BCA), 24 pupils from each school were selected for the English speaking assessment, 24 for the Chinese speaking assessment and 30 for the Chinese audiovisual assessment.

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More tests will be held on Friday.

The BCA replaces the Territory-wide System Assessment, which was designed to enhance learning and teaching but became synonymous with the city’s high-pressure drilling methods. Some educators claimed the test was used as a basis to determine school closures, but the Education Bureau repeatedly denied such claims.

Around 50 schools took a revamped and less demanding format last year.

The bureau said the revised test had eliminated the incentive to overdrill, adding that all government-subsidised schools would have to take part in the rebranded exercise this year.

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But parents said overdrilling was still present in schools and called for a boycott of the tests.

Lee Yiu-po, principal of Grantham College of Education Past Students’ Association Whampoa Primary School, which let parents choose if they wanted their child to take part, said the school was prepared if any pupil did not want to be tested.

“Out of our 141 Primary Three students, the parents of 20 chose not to take part,” the principal said.

“So if these pupils are picked for assessment, we will replace them with other students marked as reserves.”

Three other schools told the Post they would let parents decide.

Separately, Professor Magdalena Mok Mo-ching from Education University said she had quit the government-tasked committee because of poor health.

But she also felt her views had not been heard. She had suggested the tests be conducted without naming the school, which she believed would eliminate the incentive for drilling.

Another committee member, who spoke anonymously, said other members had views accepted and rejected.

The member also believed that the committee decided on keeping the names of schools to ensure they could get data on their students’ performance to improve learning and teaching.

The written assessments for Chinese, English and mathematics, taken by all Primary Three pupils at the schools, take place on June 13 and 14.