School-based assessment will be dropped for three subjects in the Diploma of Education (DSE) and deferred for nine other subjects in the coming school year.
The assessment system was brought in to ease the pressure of a single exam determining a pupil's results in a subject.
But the Education Bureau denied the move was a U-turn after it was criticised for throwing resources at the school-based assessments with little result.
Deputy education secretary Catherine Chan Ka-ki said yesterday that the decision was made because of "concerns on the workload" of frontline teachers. The proportion of school-based assessment would be cut for 12 of 24 DSE subjects, she said.
Assessment for 11 subjects would be streamlined, she said.
"[This is] the outcome of a very long period of consultation and evaluation of the work of the new senior secondary academic structure," Chan said, adding that universities had been commissioned to carry out several studies on curriculum and assessment, with more than 100,000 teachers interviewed over four years. "They expressed concerns on workload, about the breadth and depth of the curriculum, and … on how to conduct school-based assessment," said Chan. The move was a response to the schools' needs, she said.
Professional Teachers' Union president Fung Wai-wah welcomed the move but said it did not go far enough.
"The school-based assessment system is so half-hearted. It uses a lot of manpower and resources, but the marks contribute very little to the pupil's final grade," he said.
"It's just more pressure for the pupil, and doesn't really minimise exam pressure."
Fung said the government should consider cutting school-based assessment for new subjects that had yet to begin instead of just deferring it. He said it could be kept for the few subjects where it was helpful for pupils.
"This time, the government did its research, gathered information and sought suggestions from many in the profession, which we commend them for. But to what degree they will be willing to take the necessary action remains to be seen," he said.
Other amendments from a review report on the new senior secondary structure released yesterday included lowering mandatory lesson time from 2,700 to 2,400 hours, with the option to add or subtract an extra 200 hours. Each subject would have a requirement of 150 hours.
A list of Chinese-language "model literature" to give teachers more direction was also being considered. Guidelines and extra subject materials would be available online in August, Chan said.