1 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Liberal studies structured enquiry approach independent enquiry Study Report Covering Page enquiry Question: Should the TSA assessment for Primary 3 students be abolished in HongKong ? Year of Examination: 2017 Name of Student: Class/ Group: Class Number: Name of advisor: Number of words in the report: 3971 Notes: 1. Written reports should not exceed 4 500 words. The reading time for non-written reports should not exceed 22 minutes and the short written texts accompanying non-written reports should not exceed 1 100 words. The word count for written reports and the short written texts does not include the covering page, the table of contents, titles, graphs, tables, captions and headings of photos, punctuation marks, footnotes, endnotes, references, bibliography and appendices. 2. /andidates are responsible for counting the number of words in their reports and the short written texts and indicating it accurately on this covering page.
2 3. Lf the Lndependent 9nquiry Study weport of a student is selected for review by the School-Based Assessment System, the school should ensure that the student s name, class/ group and class number have been deleted from the report before submitting it to the Iong Yong 9xaminations and Assessment Authority. Schools should also ensure that the identities of both the schools and students are not disclosed in the reports. Cor non-written reports, the identities of the students and schools, including the appearance of the students, should be deleted. 1 Table of Contents A. Problem Definition P. 3-5 B. Relevant Concepts and Knowledge/ Facts/ Data P. 6-8 C. In-depth Explanation of the Issue P. 9-17 D. Judgement and Justification P. 1 8-20 References P. 2 1-23 Attachment (1) Interview with a Primary school teacher Attachment (2) Interview with a parent of a Primary student 2 A.
3 Problem Definition TSA is a territory-wide assessment, which is annually conducted at Primary 3 , Primary 6 and Secondary 3 levels. At Primary 6 level, the test is conducted in alternative years; in the gap years schools can opt-in voluntarily. According to the website of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, TSAs aim at helping schools and teachers to improve teaching based on information about students strengths and weaknesses1, also helping the Government to formulate related policies and measures, such as developing appropriate learning and teaching resources to cater for learner diversity2. The original set-up intention of TSA is positive, stating that neither preparing or exercises are required3, however, the process of carrying out the assessment system ,such as setting up extra remedial classes and giving excessive amount of TSA-related exercises as homework to Primary 3 students, has brought much negative effects to school teachers, parents and primary students.
4 The phenomenon of over-drilling not only increases the pressure of Primary 3 students and teachers, but also sparks up the anger of their parents 4,such strong opposition led to the publish of a full-page advertisement in a Chinese-language filed by more than 40,000 parents and teachers, appealing to the Education chief Eddie Ng-Hak-Kim that the tests should be cancelled for Primary 3 students. The Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union has also conducted surveys three times, revealing that TSA had already strayed away from its original purpose5, which is only supposed to assess students basic learning competencies 6, or in other words, the essential knowledge and skills ( such as 1 Using Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) data to improve curriculum planning 2 Implementation of Territory-wide System Assessment 3 4 Parents anger over continue drilling for TSA exams 5 TSA straying away from its original purpose 6 Civil service newsletter 3 comprehensive, writing and listening skills) of students without extra amount of drilling exercises.
5 Even though the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority had provided guidelines for schools that schools should not change their teaching and assessment methods because of the TSA and make amendments to the TSA system as over-drilling is unnecessary as the test should not require extra tuition7, however, surveys conducted by the Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union, 70 percent of the teachers surveyed said an average of two hours of additional remedial classes each week for TSA preparation has to be Moreover, the Education Bureau has carried out enhancement measures ( the Tryout scheme) in order to calm the angry parents 9,the academic pressure on Primary 1-3 students was still as heavy as before, parents and teachers continued to ask for the abolishment of the unnecessary assessment as pressure has been exerted on students, parents and teachers; the practice of over-drilling exercises and remedial classes were said to be affecting the daily life of primary students , and also continued deviating TSA s original intent of assessing the basic competencies of Scholars pointed out that the problem was not majorly related to the difficulty of the assessment, but the mindset of schools which wanted to gain a higher academic reputation through the assessment.
6 The problem could hardly be solved as the enhancement measures do not directly tackle the root of the problem11, only the abolishment of the assessment for Primary 3 students could help relieve their academic pressure and stop schools from over-drilling them with TSA-related exercises. 7 TSA leaflet by HKEAA 8 Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union survey additional remedial classes for TSA 9 Enhancement measures by the Education Bureau 10 Serious morbid change in the Territory-wide System Assessment 11 4 Therefore, whether to retain or abolish the territory-wide assessment for primary 3 students in Hong Kong is a controversial issue as there was still unsatisfactory voice of parents, teachers and students after the carrying out of enhancement policies and Primary 3 students are still burdened with the problem of over-drilling. The aim of this report is to evaluate whether the Territory Wide Assessment should be abolished for Primary three students by analysing the impacts that the TSA has brought towards primary students, teachers and parents, the effectiveness of the enhancement measures carried out by the government, the alternatives that could replace TSA through interviewing a Primary school teacher and a parent of a Primary 2 student and finding some second-hand information.
7 5 B. Relevant Concept and Knowledge/Facts/Data Incentive of implementing the Territory-wide System Assessment According to the Education Bureau, the Territory-wide System Assessment ( TSA ) helps both the government and schools to understand more about their students performances in three core subjects ( Chinese language, English language and Mathematics) through data collected in the assessment. 12 With deeper understanding of students ability, it facilitates the Education Bureau in reviewing their policies , helps the government to allocate resources and support to schools and helps both schools and teachers to improve their teaching plans. TSA supporting materials provided by the Education Bureau The Education Bureau provides a variety of supporting services to schools every year such as consultancy services, professional development networks and collaborative Furthermore, the Education Bureau has set up a website named Web-based Learning and Teaching Support for teachers which provides interactive learning materials and Basic Competency Basic Competency is the minimal requirement that students should have without any extra learning support.
8 It is a standard set which would be benchmarked against the international Enhancement Measure of the TSA In 2016, the Education Bureau has set up the Coordinating Committee on Basic Competency Assessment and Assessment Literacy in order to conduct a more comprehensive review on TSA. The committee then claimed that certain adjustments 12 Introduction of TSA by HKEAA 13 Support and Resources for TSA (for%20schools) 14 (for%20schools) 15 What is Basic Competency (BC) ? (for%20schools) 6 could be made on the assessment papers and question design, and there should be more provision of professional support measures for schools on TSA-related homework The Tryout TSA policy has 50 participating primary schools, while other schools are encouraged to participate on a voluntary basis. 17 Study-life balance Study-life balance is a concept of proper prioritizing both academic and personal lifestyle18 ( such as health, pleasure, leisure, family, social aspects).
9 Such concept is essential in this issue as one of the major concern of teachers and parents is the study-life balance of Primary 3 students, the over-drilling of TSA exercises and extra remedial classes take away a significant portion of students time for rest or extra-curricular activities and makes study-life balance for Primary 3 students hard to achieve. Academic pressure For a lot of Hong Kong students, academic pressure is a significant source of is a mental distress and frustration due to academic associated problems such as academic failure or demands19. The Territory-wide System Assessment for Primary 3 students was said to be giving the Primary 1-3 students humongous pressure, overloaded with TSA-drilling exercises 20. Having the Primary students suffering from academic pressure is one of the main controversial point in this issue. Situation of stress among primary students According to a survey conducted by the children council in Hong Kong, most Hong Kong students are under great pressure because of academic the interviewees, 440 were Secondary and primary school students of which over 90% of them have mentioned that they have experienced pressure from their These pressure can be resulted from large amount of homework assignments, the competitive 16 TSA tryout 17 18 Study-life balance 19 American International Journal of Research in Humanities,Arts and Social Sciences - academic stress 20 21 Children council 7 at mosphere among Hong Kong students and lack of relief measures from the government.
10 The effects of academic pressure on Primary students When compared with other Asian countries or cities, Hong Kong has always been one of the well-known cities with intense academic competition. Academic pressure can result in sleeping deprivation, eating disorders,loss of interest in study and anxiety. 22 All these above mentioned are negative consequences that might harm the Primary student s mental health and personal development. In this case , the TSA assessment was said to be increasing the academic pressure on Primary students, such that the effects are bothering the children, instead of finding out which part the students are strong at and weaknesses, the overloaded amount of drilling exercises were said to be taking away the students happy and healthy children by making them lose interest in 22 The effects of academic pressure on children 23 8 C.