The Hong Kong Institute of Education is joining forces with eight countries in a project aimed at establishing a local student work standard. The Schools Around the World project has been launched by the Council for Basic Education in the United States in collaboration with the Centre for Children and Technology to establish a professional development model to improve teaching and learning methods. Institutions in Australia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Portugal, France, Britain and the US are also participating. Phase one of the pilot scheme was launched last Saturday with professional training workshops for teachers who will be required to collect work samples from nine-year-old pupils in general studies, Chinese and maths. Phase two of the programme will start in secondary schools next year when work samples in history, biology, maths and Chinese will be collected. The main studies will begin in the middle of next year for three years and will include secondary and primary students. Three levels of student achievement with varying degrees of accomplishment will be drawn up for teachers to make comparisons and gain a better understanding of student requirements. Senior lecturer Dr Francis Cheung Wing-ming, project leader for Hong Kong, said the SAR could develop a world-class student work standard and learn from the experience of other partner nations. 'Teachers are expected to set performance targets for students,' Dr Cheung said. 'However, it should be noted that both the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement studies and the present TOC [Target Oriented Curriculum] practice in Hong Kong schools do not provide enough knowledge and information . . . so the project is crucial to help us define a Hong Kong standard of student achievement and provide the framework of reference for policy-makers and teachers.' He believed the project would allow Hong Kong to gain access to base line information for further development of student performance standards in the context of the TOC reform. 'Hong Kong needs to know what student performance standards are at 'typical' schools in Hong Kong and in other parts of the world,' Dr Cheung said.