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Assessment Program for Affective and Social Outcomes

     Recently, individual media organisations have made superficial and distorted reports on the survey items relating to national identity in the Assessment Program for Affective and Social Outcomes (APASO).  The reports may lead to misunderstanding or even doubts about schools’ routine work on professional teaching and evaluation among the public.  The Education Bureau (EDB) expresses utmost regret over the above issue and feels obliged to make clarifications and set the record straight.

What is APASO?  What are its uses?

     APASO is a set of professional assessment tool developed by a tertiary institute under commission by the EDB for supporting school self-evaluation (SSE).  The tool is targeted at students at Primary 3 or above, and comprises sets of scales, such as “Self-concept”, “Health and Well Being” and “Interpersonal Relationships”.  It aims to help schools understand students’ performance in the affective and social domains so as to review students’ needs for their whole-person development and conduct appropriate planning and follow-up.  The EDB launched APASO in 2003 and its revised version, APASO II, in the 2010/11 school year.  Schools have all along been given the flexibility to determine how to administer APASO based on their school-based needs to facilitate their work on SSE.

Does the EDB demand the incorporation of items relating to national identity in APASO questionnaire surveys due to the implementation of national security education in schools?

     All along, the EDB has not required schools to use a particular scale in APASO.  “National identity”, one of the scales in APASO, has been in use since its launch.  It is incorrect for individual media organisations to report that the EDB requires schools to adopt this scale due to the implementation of the National Security Law and national security education.  It is understandable that schools may make their own decisions to incorporate items relating to national identity into their questionnaires in order to understand students’ views on national education for teachers’ analysis and planning of their subsequent work.  If teachers have different opinions, they should convey their views to schools for discussion.

Is there a pre-set stance on items relating to national identity in APASO?

     All items in APASO (including those relating to national identity) do not have any pre-set stance or answers.  Neither do they target at individual students.  They are designed to help schools understand students’ views as a whole so as to reflect on their follow-up work.  The items in the sets of scales/ questionnaires of APASO are statements, each with four options, namely “Strongly Disagree”, “Disagree”, “Agree” and “Strongly Agree” for students to express their views.  Different levels of questions are covered in each scale so that schools can understand the variations in students’ performance in the relevant assessment items.  Like the other items, there is no presumption that “Strongly Agree” is the best response from students to the items relating to national identity in APASO.  It is groundless for the individual media organisations to connect the items with ultra-nationalism.  Schools should encourage students to express their opinions freely and think critically.  When interpreting the data, schools should pay attention to the overall students’ performance on the relevant assessment items and avoid laying undue emphasis on responses to individual items.  Teachers should interpret the items professionally in a comprehensive manner in order to devise pragmatic and feasible follow-up measures.

Should schools collect data on a particular item in APASO?

     The EDB does not require schools to collect data on a particular item in APASO.  Taking into consideration school-based needs and their major concerns, schools have to decide on when and how to administer APASO in order to review students’ needs for their whole-person development and the effectiveness of related measures implemented in schools.

Is it necessary for schools to submit data of performance in the affective and social domains to the EDB?

     It is not necessary for schools to submit data of performance in the affective and social domains to the EDB.  APASO is for schools’ professional teaching, evaluation and feedback.  Through systematic analysis of students’ performance in the affective and social domains, APASO helps schools understand students’ needs for their whole-person development and review the implementation of related measures in schools for follow-up and improvement.

Will the EDB review and enhance APASO?

     All along, the EDB has been reviewing and updating SSE tools in a timely manner to continually support schools’ work on self-evaluation.  APASO has been used for more than a decade.  At present, a tertiary institute commissioned by the EDB is reviewing APASO, including enhancing items where necessary to address the needs of society and educational development.

April 6, 2021 (Tuesday)