Reading literacy of students
Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Sophie Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (May 7):
It has been reported that a reading literacy study conducted among students from 35 countries and regions reveals that Hong Kong children top the list in reading literacy at the time of admission to Primary One, but rank 14th when they are in Primary Four. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:
(a) it has conducted a comprehensive assessment of the reading literacy of primary and secondary school students at different stages of schooling; if so, of the assessment results; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) it has assessed the effectiveness of the measures adopted to nurture a reading culture among children; and
(c) it has formulated objective indicators for assessing children's reading literacy on a regular basis; if so, of the details of such indicators; if not, the reasons for that?
(a) For two decades, the Government has been assessing students' language skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) at different learning stages annually through the Hong Kong Attainment Tests which are norm-referenced and curriculum-based. The results generated reflected what they have learnt. One of the assessed language skills is reading, and the following is a summary of students' general performance in reading in recent years.
Junior primary students demonstrated fair competency in reading as compared with the other language skills. Senior primary students displayed strong capability in recognizing words.
Among the four skills, junior primary students are relatively strong in reading for information. Senior primary students are relatively weak in reading comprehension.
In December 2001, the Government also launched a survey on students' reading habits. In the survey, students were found to read more books at earlier learning stages, but more electronic information at later stages. Primary students tended to be reading for knowledge enrichment, while secondary students reading for leisure.
With the curriculum reform in place in 2002, the Curriculum Development Council is developing a set of descriptors, which has made reference to other international literacy standards. The reading ability study quoted by the press, which is conducted in the mother tongue of the students and is curriculum-free, would complement information for reference of local standards, and help us in providing informed-measures to improve students' reading ability in Hong Kong.
(b) Recognizing that nurturing a reading culture is a continuous process, the Government has set up a task force on reading strategy in May 2002 to develop and implement relevant action plan for promoting a reading culture in schools, so as to align with the key task of Reading to Learn in the education reform. An evaluation framework has also been formulated to collect data from various sources, including research and school development projects. The evaluation schedule will soon be drawn up and data collected will help map out subsequent plans.
(c) Aligning with the curriculum reform, the Curriculum Development Council is developing sets of basic competencies for assessing students' achievements in Chinese and English languages including reading skills. These would be used for the student programme of Basic Competency Assessment as an additional tool to complement the school internal assessment for all primary schools in June 2003. The system assessment of Basic Competency Assessment will be launched in 2004 to monitor territory-wide standard at Primary 3. It would be extended to Primary 6 and Secondary 3 in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
End/Wednesday, May 7, 2003