Opening Ceremony of HKEAA Research Forum 2018
Speech by Mrs Ingrid YEUNG
Permanent Secretary for Education
31 October 2018 (Wednesday)
Mr YUNG, Dr SO, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you all at the opening ceremony of the HKEAA’s inaugural Research Forum on “Using Assessment Data for Better Learning and Teaching”. Assessment is indeed an interesting subject. In Hong Kong, while assessments, which to most people mean only paper examinations and tests, are generally accepted to be administered impartially, they are usually perceived to be a means to distinguish the high-performing students from the low-performing ones hence are sources of pressure. With technological advancement, assessment has actually taken various unconventional forms. Design and make, multimedia projects and e-portfolios are among those widely adopted in the classroom.
2. These new modes of assessment encompass a wider range of learning outcomes, which in turn lead to a more comprehensive and balanced appraisal of students’ performance and offer more data about student attainments. They also signify a critical paradigm shift towards student-centredness in assessment design. With such valuable data about students’ learning made available, we should capitalise on them so that they provide a firm basis for the improvement of student learning.
3. It is very encouraging that formative assessment is increasingly adopted in schools to identify students’ strengths and areas for improvement in learning. Teachers have become more capable of providing quality feedback and timely support for students, guiding them to progress along the developmental continuum.
4. The collection and use of data to inform decision-making has gathered considerable momentum across the globe. In Hong Kong, while notable success has been achieved by teachers in using assessment data to help students learn better in the classroom, school leaders can do more by holistically reviewing the school- and system-level data to direct curriculum planning. A longitudinal study of data from different subject panels and year levels and from public assessments will provide much useful information for steering whole-school curriculum development in the planning-implementation-evaluation (P-I-E) cycle under the School Development and Accountability Framework. The data from these sources, if analysed collectively, can provide a strategic direction for school leaders to set priorities and goals for curriculum development. Following the set agenda, school leaders can formulate implementation strategies and decide on resource deployment more judiciously. Continuous monitoring is critical as it allows schools to make timely adjustments to curriculum initiatives across Key Learning Areas and to collect additional data which feed back into the next P-I-E cycle. The HKEAA has been contributing to this drive by reporting on our students’ performance against the standards expected of them in various assessments.
5. I am sure we all agree that to a certain extent assessment moulds our students’ approaches to learning. Indeed, the way students perceive the results of assessment has profound impact on their learning interest and motivation. It is high time that we should join efforts to change the common perception that assessment is to pass judgment on the performance of students only. A more robust approach should be taken to raise the awareness of key stakeholders like students and parents that assessment could be a challenging yet rewarding learning experience. Our students will surely achieve more if schools let them demonstrate higher order outcomes and generic skills in authentic assessment tasks, like problem-solving, which are relevant to the real world and students’ everyday experience and which assess students by their efforts in planning, trials and reviewing rather than simply by the final product. We need a rethink of the prevailing school reporting system and seek to change it to reflect better students’ achievements in both summative and formative assessments, as well as to provide more qualitative and informative feedback on student learning. We need to change the understanding that assessment is important insofar as it is about grading, ranking or selection, which inevitably invokes comparisons between individuals, and need to engage our students as well as to help them monitor and improve their own learning through assessment tasks.
6. Another important awareness that schools should raise among parents and students is that homework is a form of assessment and a very useful one too to foster productive learning. Meaningful homework should take different forms and should be stimulating enough to reinforce classroom learning, provoke thinking and provide reasonable challenge. There are good educational reasons why the quality of homework should be given more attention. Much work for us lies ahead in optimising school-based assessment and homework policies, enhancing home-school co-operation and developing students’ metacognitive strategies that enhance the depth and quality of self-reflection.
7. I think none of us present here today will dispute that assessment tasks are essential to the learning process. They not only enable students to consolidate their knowledge and skills, but also provide data for teachers to evaluate their teaching effectiveness. The Education Bureau will continue to work with the school sector in promoting the use of diversified modes of assessment tasks and the data obtained to inform learning and teaching, raise students’ learning interest and promote their self-directed learning. We will also provide the necessary support, including school-based support services and teacher development programmes, to enhance assessment literacy of the school sector.
8. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation for the HKEAA’s remarkable efforts in organising this important Forum. A good number of academics and school leaders today will give us valuable insights into using assessment data for better learning and teaching, as the theme of this Forum suggests. I trust that everyone here today is going to have a very rewarding day. Thank you very much.