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[Archive] Education Commission Report No.7 Quality School Education - AIMS OF EDUCATION AND QUALITY INDICATORS


Chapter 2


Aims of education

2.1 Much of Hong Kong's success is attributable to our exposure to a mix of Chinese and Western cultures and diverse educational opportunities. The challenge facing us in the 21st century lies in how to sustain our international competitiveness, and to contribute to the modernisation of our country.

2.2 In September 1993, the Government issued a booklet entitled "School Education in Hong Kong: A Statement of Aims" (the Statement of Aims) covering the various aspects of school education. According to the Statement of Aims, the fundamental aim of school education is "to develop the potential of every individual child, so that our students become independent-minded and socially-aware adults, equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes which help them lead a full life as individuals and play a positive role in the life of the community."

2.3 The BoE Sub-committee on Review of School Education has endorsed the principles laid down in the Statement of Aims. We also agree that the Statement of Aims has largely set out the broad objectives for the education development in Hong Kong, but some technical amendments are needed to reflect the development since 1993. We share the vision expressed by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in various public occasions that our education system should aim to foster among our youngsters :

  1. an all-round development covering ethics, the intellect, the physique, social skills and aesthetics;
  2. biliteracy and trilingualism;
  3. self-learning ability and an inquisitive mind;
  4. a sense of responsibility towards the family, the community, the country and the world;
  5. a global outlook;
  6. the ability to assimilate modern technology and ideas, and to appreciate Chinese values;
  7. strength of character, a spirit of enterprise, the desire for continuous improvement and the versatility to cope with the changing needs of the community; and
  8. respect for the rule of law in the pursuit of personal interest.

His views were generally agreed and accepted by the education community and the public. We recommend that the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) should review the Statement of Aims, taking into account the latest development since 1993.


Quality indicators

2.4 The consultation document for the ECR7 suggested and many respondents agreed that quality indicators of school education should be translated from the aims of education, and that these indicators should be useful tools for measuring and monitoring school performance and value-added improvement in student performance in major domains of education. Broadly speaking, they should be used for the following purposes :

  1. Self-evaluation and development - to enable schools to assess their own performance over time, and take appropriate steps for improvement;
  2. Information - to provide schools, teachers, parents, students and the community with the general profile of schools for reference; and
  3. Comparison - to enable comparison among schools of similar background or within the same quality circle.

2.5 However, some concern was raised over the following :

  1. the adequacy of the sample indicators in the consultation document, and the applicability of such indicators to all types of schools on a territory-wide basis;
  2. the difficulty of formulating a set of commonly acceptable, measurable and reliable indicators to assess the value-added performance of schools and individual students;
  3. the lack of resources or expertise for schools to develop indicators on their own; and
  4. the suitability of using the HKAT results, or the internal school assessment scaled by the Academic Aptitude Test (AAT) as the basis to assess the academic achievement of students.

2.6 Taking into account public views, we recommend that a well-developed framework of quality indicators should consist of the following :

  1. School context and profile;
  2. Process indicators; and
  3. Output indicators.

School context and profile

2.7 School context and profile should provide factual school data and vital statistics to reflect :

  1. school characteristics (e.g. school facilities);
  2. teacher characteristics (e.g. number and professional qualifications of teachers); and
  3. student characteristics (e.g. gender mix).

2.8 This will provide information on the background and progress of the schools.

Process indicators

2.9 Process indicators should serve as a handy checklist to reflect whether and to what extent schools have provided the right teaching and learning environment for the development of quality education. They should help monitor overall school performance in the following aspects :

  1. school culture and ethos e.g.
      effectiveness of a principal's leadership;
      efforts of principals, teachers, students, parents, etc. in formulating and implementing school plans, and creating a shared vision and mission;
  2. school-based management e.g.
      development of formal procedures for setting school goals and evaluating progress towards these goals;
      development of documents to outline school profiles, development plans, budgets and means of evaluating progress;
      availability of written constitutions for the school management committees;
      participation of teachers, parents and alumni in school management, development, planning, evaluation and decision-making;
      development of formal procedures and resources for staff appraisal and staff development according to teachers' needs;
  3. teaching and learning process e.g.
      provision of a balanced curriculum;
      availability of school-based curriculum development and review;
      the use of different teaching and learning methods;
      provision of incentives and other measures to monitor and evaluate student learning;
      application of information technology to the teaching and learning process;
  4. personal growth and development of students e.g.
      guidance and counselling;
      moral and civic education;
      availability of student organisations;
      community service; and
  5. liaison with external bodies e.g.
      partnership and networking with other schools, educational, business, community and government agencies in the development of quality school education.

2.10 Individual schools are expected to develop and fine-tune the process indicators according to their needs.

Output indicators

2.11 Output indicators should measure the value-added improvement of students in both academic and non-academic domains at different learning stages, as a result of changes in factors affecting the student performance such as improvement in the teaching and learning environment. Examples of output indicators are :

  1. perception of teachers, parents and students of the relative progress made by students; and
  2. students' performance in major educational domains, e.g.
      civic awareness and moral attitudes;
      participation and achievement in sports and other extra-curricular activities;
      social and communication skills, and willingness to serve the class, the schools, the family and the community;
      ability to cope with pressure and changes; and
      academic achievement.

Value-added improvement of output indicators

2.12 The consultation document for the ECR7 recommended and many respondents agreed that the concept of value-added improvement should be adopted in assessing the performance of schools. This should provide a more appropriate and fairer basis for assessment than simply looking at the current level of performance. Apart from comparing the current effectiveness of different schools, individual school's performance over a period of time and a student's progress over the years (e.g. as he/she enters and leaves a school) should be measured.

2.13 Some respondents expressed concern that it would be difficult for the distinguished schools to demonstrate further value-added performance as they had little scope for improvement. It was accordingly suggested that such schools should be considered as having achieved quality performance even if their value-added improvement may be small. Our view is that while we should recognise the "value-keeping" efforts made by these schools to maintain their performance, we must point out that even the best schools need to look continuously for areas for further improvement in order to keep up with the rapidly changing environment. The concept of value-added improvement in output indicators provides an incentive for all schools to make continuous improvement, and an equitable basis for self-evaluation and comparison among schools.

Development of output indicators

2.14 We agree with the views of many respondents that it is impractical and unrealistic to expect a school to be able to develop a comprehensive set of indicators within a short time for measuring its performance in all aspects. We recognise that necessary experimentation is needed before the output indicators are well developed enough to measure value-added performance of schools in major domains of education. We recommend that as a transitional arrangement, before a common set of indicators can be agreed upon, individual schools should develop their own set of indicators to measure their value-added performance, including that of their students, over an appropriate period of time which suits their needs and development priorities.

2.15 Schools of similar background or under the same school sponsoring bodies should also be encouraged to form quality circles on a voluntary basis to develop appropriate quality indicators for their own reference. They should share experience with other schools. ED should work with the education profession to suggest some sample quality indicators for reference by schools. After further study and experimentation, the refined quality indicators can be used by all schools. In fact, many primary and secondary schools are already actively taking part in inter-school competitions in both academic and other domains, the purpose and nature of which are similar to the proposed quality circles.

Measurement of non-academic performance

2.16 Up to now, experience both locally and overseas suggests that academic achievement is the most used output indicator. Caution was made during consultation that care must be taken not to put undue emphasis on academic achievement at the expense of other areas in assessing a school's performance. We are mindful of the need for a balanced assessment in quality school education and agree that in order to encourage continuous improvement in all major education domains, the sooner the various output indicators are developed, the better. In the long run, we recommend that the performance of schools and students in all major educational domains should be measured against the benchmarks developed by schools themselves or their quality circles, to reflect their efforts in the pursuit of excellence.

Measurement of academic achievement

2.17 On academic achievement, the consultation document for the ECR7 recommended the use of territory-wide assessment tests as the basis for evaluation. It further suggested that the result of Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE), a well-established and recognised public examination, should be a good reference point to look at a student's academic achievement at Secondary Five (S5) level.

2.18 However, regarding the academic abilities of Secondary One (S1) students, there were mixed views over the proposed use of the Primary Six (P6) students' academic performance scaled by the AAT as the basis to assess the value-added efforts made by the school to develop the students over the years. We note that the BoE Sub-committee on Review of School Education, in its "Report on Review of 9-year Compulsory Education", suggested that the AAT should be replaced by an Academic Ability Assessment which would consist of two components, namely, a Language Ability Assessment and a Mathematical Ability Assessment. We recommend that a mechanism should be developed as soon as possible to provide a reference point in the long run to look at the academic attainment of students when they enter S1. The Target Oriented Curriculum, when fully developed, may also be used as the reference benchmarks to measure students' academic achievement.

2.19 Meanwhile, before a territory-wide assessment mechanism is developed, for the purpose of measuring the value-added improvement of schools, we recommend that the Hong Kong Attainment Tests (HKAT), which are conducted by schools annually, be used by schools themselves to initiate longitudinal assessment of their students' performance from Primary One to P6 and from S1 to Secondary Three. We note that to facilitate schools to use the HKAT for internal assessment, ED was piloting in June 1997 a user-friendly software package to assist schools in analysing students' HKAT scores against the territory-wide standard. We note that a live version of the package will be distributed to schools in early 1998.

Participation of front-line educators

2.20 We agree that the quality indicators have to be tried out, refined and gradually developed to meet the actual needs of schools and to make comparison among different schools. The participation and contribution of front-line educators, who have first-hand knowledge of school education, are crucial for the development of effective indicators. We recommend that ED should support and assist schools in the development of quality indicators in order to achieve a school-based quality reform, in collaboration with the tertiary institutions, education profession and various education-related executive and advisory boards and committees, with reference to overseas experience.


Last revision date: 20 January 2010
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