Earlier on, amid the many challenges brought by COVID-19, schools experienced a prolonged period of class suspension for almost five months. During this period, with the concerted efforts and resourcefulness of the education sector, "suspending classes without suspending learning" was actualised for students through different modes (e-learning in particular), and the effectiveness of this new attempt has been a subject of attention of various sectors. In this connection, the Education Bureau (EDB) issued a letter to all local primary and secondary schools on June 5, introducing the arrangements for "Gainful Use of Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) 2020 Materials" to gauge students' learning progress. The EDB has held five briefing sessions this month to elaborate on these arrangements.
Because of the pandemic, the EDB announced on February 25 that the TSA (including all oral and written assessments) originally scheduled from April to June would be suspended. All assessment resources had already been prepared by the time of the announcement. The EDB, having consulted the sector, decided to task the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) and the Hong Kong Education City (HKEdCity) with compiling the assessment resources, supplemented by a questionnaire survey, to enable schools, parents and the EDB to understand how class suspension amid the pandemic and various school-based "suspending classes without suspending learning" arrangements have affected this cohort of primary and secondary students' basic competencies in Chinese Language, English Language and Mathematics and, pursuant to that, to enable stakeholders to enhance their assessment literacy. Schools and teachers may review and moderate their student support and counselling measures according to the students' performance.
The assessment resources cover both language subjects (reading, listening and writing) and Mathematics at Primary Three, Primary Six and Secondary Three levels. Taking into consideration the contexts and needs of different schools, the HKEAA and HKEdCity shall provide schools with a printed version as well as an online version, which is available on the STAR platform in two periods (before summer holiday and upon commencement of the next school year). Schools may decide whether to use the resources and how to use them according to their school-based situations. For instance, schools may choose to use the assessment resources during Period 1 (i.e. June 29 to July 31) to learn about students' immediate situation right after class resumption. If schools have made similar arrangements for the period before the summer holiday, they may choose to use the assessment resources during Period 2 (i.e. around September and October, after the commencement of the next school year) to find out students' learning progress after class resumption. For secondary schools, they may consider using the assessment resources during Period 2 to learn about the basic competencies of their newly-admitted Secondary One students and draw on Secondary Four students' feedback on Key Stage 3 as they start devising plans and teaching strategies for the New Senior Secondary Curriculum in the next three years.
While schools opting to use the printed version may mark the assessment resources according to the marking schemes, those using the assessment resources on the STAR platform may obtain an instant analysis of students' performance by class, class level and special group, as well as an analysis of incorrect answers for reference, and access the learning resources of the EDB's Web-based Learning and Teaching Support. Furthermore, schools opting to use the assessment resources on the STAR platform may obtain the performance analysis of individual students, which shall enable them to plan learning and teaching strategies more effectively to cater for learner diversity of their students.
Apart from obtaining instant feedback, schools participating in the STAR online version may obtain from the HKEAA the percentage of the correct response for each assessment item and the corresponding Basic Competency descriptor(s) at individual and overall school levels and the related qualitative feedbacks of the aggregate performance analysis of participating schools between early September and December (depending on the time slots chosen by individual schools). For example, if a total of 10 000 students have responded to an assessment item for Chinese listening on the STAR platform, schools will receive an analysis for that particular item showing how these students have performed on the whole, and this will give them another perspective to review the performance of their students in relation to the learning in all other participating schools. Regarding the writing assessments of the two language subjects, schools may consider using the marking services provided by the HKEAA in order to obtain performance analyses for writing assessments at individual and overall school levels.
To accommodate school operation after class resumption and upon commencement of the next school year, the HKEAA has tailored and consolidated the assessment resources to enable schools to get a general picture of students' abilities from various performance analyses within a limited timeframe. Meanwhile, the auto-marking function of the online version can save schools the work of manual marking, while the performance analysis of individual students helps parents understand their children's learning progress during class suspension and foster closer cooperation with the school, and enhances all stakeholders' understanding of basic competencies and assessment literacy.
In addition, the EDB has concurrently tasked the HKEAA to conduct a Questionnaire Survey on Students' Learning Situation. The survey will cover schools'/teachers' considerations for planning learning activities for students during class suspension, background of students and their parents, issues relating to students' learning and living during class suspension, and changes brought by class suspension to students' learning and living. The information collected will inform the EDB's formulation of policies and measures, as well as enabling schools to understand the situation and needs of their teachers and students.
At the system level, the EDB will only receive from the HKEAA the overall performance analysis on the related arrangements and will not receive any assessment information that makes any schools or students identifiable. As for the Questionnaire Survey on Students’ Learning Situation, the EDB will only seek to understand how various educational resources are deployed on the whole during class suspension caused by the pandemic and will not obtain any information that may identify individual schools, teachers, parents or students. We hope the education sector will provide the EDB and the sector with data on this unprecedented situation so as to piece together a full picture of students' learning situations.
Given the positive response to the briefing sessions, the HKEAA has further extended the deadline for the collection of the reply slip (i.e. Annex 5 to the letter sent to all local schools in the territory by the EDB on June 5) to 6pm on July 24 (Friday). Schools may also change the choices they have made (e.g. switching to the assessment resources on the STAR platform) before July 24. If schools that have already submitted their reply slip wish to change to participate via the STAR platform instead, they may call the HKEAA (regarding the marking services for writing and Questionnaire Survey on Students' Learning Situation) or the HKEdCity (regarding the operation of the STAR platform and Assessment Time Slot Reservation System) for information or follow-up. Some frequently asked questions and answers have already been uploaded to the HKEdCity's webpage on STAR.
26 June 2020