Some people say the TSA tests students’ basic knowledge. I don’t agree. I think some of the TSA questions are too difficult for students. In reality, this exam wants to find out whether they can properly copy model answers.
Students are already stressed, with pressure from their parents and the routine tests and lessons.
On top of this, some schools have been known to force teachers to train their students with TSA exercises. With this added burden, students also have less time to relax.
The TSA, which has been heavily criticised by many parents, is now known as the Basic Competency Assessment (BCA). But things haven’t really changed.
Schools continue to drill students using past papers. It’s just a vicious cycle.
The TSA is not a good way to judge students. I believe Hong Kong needs to get rid of the TSA altogether.
Mandy Mak, Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College
Thank you for your letter, Mandy.
BCA was introduced last year after the original TSA was suspended following an outcry.
I know the tests are unpopular; there is too much memorisation. This does not allow students to hone their critical-thinking skills and enhance their knowledge.
But the annual BCA is really meant to look at how well schools and teachers are implementing the curriculum, and whether students are meeting certain learning targets. It is not a public exam and not related to the allocation of Secondary One places.
The BCA covers Chinese Language, English Language, and Mathematics – three of the four core subjects at the HKDSE.
In the Chinese and English assessments, students are tested on their listening, reading, and writing skills.
Also, many teachers have welcomed the revised TSA, saying it is now more suited to most Primary Three students in Hong Kong’s public schools.
We hope schools use the assessment to raise their teaching quality which would in turn help students lift their academic standards.
Under the new arrangements, there is no need for schools to drill students with extra papers and lessons. This is the main idea behind the reformed version.
M. J. Premaratne, Sub-editor