Education Journal


2016.第44卷第1期(Vol. 44 No. 1).pp. 195–212


A Critique on the Report on Review of the Territory-wide System Assessment: In the Perspective of Policy-evaluation Research

曾榮光(Wing-Kwong TSANG)





On 29 February 2016, the Report on Review of the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) was released on the official website of the Education Bureau of the HKSAR government. In this report, we cannot find any empirical analysis or justification on the effects and consequences of the policy in point, as we would expect of any formal policy-review study; yet we are told to accept its conclusion that the intent and value of the TSA is worth to be “reaffirmed” and what is needed is some tinkering on the implementation procedures. As a result, we are also told to accept the fact that the “improved” TSA will be launched in 2017 for “territory-wide implementation.” In this article, the Report will be examined and critiqued from the perspective of policy-evaluation research. First, the article will query and critique the basic premise assumed by the Report, that is, “the intent and value of the establishment of TSA” is “to provide feedback to learning and teaching.” Second, it will argue empirically that for the last ten years, the TSA policy has failed to serve as an effective formative-assessment instrument to provide relevant feedbacks and supports to learning and teaching of students, especially those who are lagging behind in the Basic Competence Assessment. On the contrary, the article will argue that the TSA policy has espoused a policy consequence of unleashing a wave of pressure of teaching for testing, which has been permeating widely among schools, especially primary schools in recent years. Finally, the article will take issue with the primary policy recommendation of the Report. It will argue that it is totally unnecessary to continue a “territory-wide” TSA to mandate all students of Primary 3, Primary 6 and Secondary 3 to sit for the assessment annually. The article will suggest that the coverage of the TSA can be scaled down to a randomly selected sample of schools, and argue that such a scaled-down TSA could still provide reliable and valid evidence for the school performance at system level.

Keywords: Territory-wide System Assessment; formative assessment; summative assessment; quality-assurance mechanism; policy-evaluation research