Schools invited to participate in TSA 2016 Tryout Study for Primary 3 students

     The Education Bureau (EDB) today (February 29) issued a circular memorandum on the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) 2016 Tryout Study (Primary 3).

     The Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, thanked the schools, parents, school sponsoring bodies and stakeholders for their continuous contributions in promoting quality education and whole-person development. The performance of primary school students in different areas received wide recognition.

     An EDB spokesman stressed that the tryout study is based on the recommendations made by the Coordinating Committee on Basic Competency Assessment and Assessment Literacy with an aim of enhancing the TSA. Measures include adjusting the assessment paper and question design to tie in with the curriculum and student learning, introducing different reporting formats to meet the needs of individual schools and tracking the attainment of basic competencies in Chinese Language, English Language and Mathematics of students as a whole at the territory-wide level. These measures should be able to maintain the value and function of the TSA in providing feedback on learning and teaching while reducing the incentives for over-drilling at the same time.

     The tryout study reflects the low-stakes nature of the TSA. The EDB also explicitly stated that the TSA data would not be used to assess the performance of a school so as to eliminate the misunderstanding about supposed pressure exerted on school sponsoring bodies and schools by the TSA. Mutual trust can be fostered through participation, sharing and collaboration in promoting quality education with a view to facilitating effective and pleasurable student learning. The EDB would strengthen the provision of professional support measures for schools on homework policy, assessment literacy, enhancement of learning and teaching (e.g. via the promotion of reading) as well as the TSA in the course of the tryout study. Public education would also be strengthened so as to enhance different stakeholders' awareness of the TSA as part of the concept of "assessment for learning" with a view to enhancing quality education.

     The spokesman said, "The number of primary schools participating in the tryout study will be around 50 and they are of different types (i.e., about 10 per cent of the primary schools in the territory with each school participating as a unit). Schools will be invited on the basis of various factors, including districts, types of schools (government, aided and Direct Subsidy Scheme) and school size to ensure representativeness, reliability and validity of the tryout study. Apart from the schools invited to participate, other schools are also encouraged to take part on a voluntary basis. The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority issued letters today to invite schools to participate in the tryout study.

     "The invited schools of the tryout study can consider if they would participate with reference to their school-based situations. Other schools can also take part on a voluntary basis. There is no incentive for schools to impose drills and pressure on their students."

     The spokesman added, "The Committee will follow up on the implementation of the tryout study and monitor progress. They will also provide views on the data and experience gathered in the study. At the present stage, time and space should be allowed for finalising the details for implementing the tryout study. The EDB hopes that stakeholders would focus on providing feedback from the experience of the tryout study for future TSAs and professional support measures. This is to enable the development of the TSA to revert to the right track and to further enhance the effectiveness of learning and teaching."

     The EDB announced in October 2015 that the Committee would conduct a comprehensive review on the TSA. Two working groups were set up under the Committee to conduct an in-depth study of the reporting and administration and the papers and question design of the TSA respectively, with a view to recommending short, medium and long-term improvement measures.

     The Committee submitted the preliminary recommendations in February 2016, reaffirming the intent and value of the establishment of the TSA and recognising the functional use of TSA data to provide feedback to learning and teaching and to facilitate the formulation of measures to support learning. On the Primary 3 TSA, the Committee recognises that the assessment paper and question design could be adjusted, and different formats of school reports could be adopted to facilitate the enhancement of school-based curriculum and teaching practice while reflecting the low-stakes nature of the TSA. The Committee takes the view that related arrangements should be tested out in the form of a tryout in 2016. The outcome of the tryout study should be appropriately adopted and enhanced in the 2017 assessment arrangement. The EDB has accepted the report from the Committee. The report concerned has been uploaded to the website

Ends/Monday, February 29, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:03