The changing role of an examination board: a case study of Hong Kong

Lo, Margaret Wai Ki (2013) The changing role of an examination board: a case study of Hong Kong. EdD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This case study examines the changing role of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority with a view to identifying the way forward for it to enhance its effectiveness and inform future assessment development. The research questions are:

1)What functions do public examinations serve in Hong Kong and how effectively are they serving these functions?

2)What is the role of the Authority in the education system of Hong Kong and how effective is it in delivering this role as expected by its stakeholders?

A historical approach is adopted to trace and analyse the development of public examinations through literature and document review. In order to gain new insights into the implicit forces working behind public examinations and form a more balanced view of examination bodies, reference is also made to the internal documents of the Authority.

It has been found that due to an exponential growth in public education since the 1970s against a background of rapid social changes, the functions expected of public examinations have expanded from those of a selective school system to include also those of an inclusive one. Despite improvement measures introduced by the Authority over the years, it was only until the introduction of an education reform initiated by the Tung Chee Hwa Government in the 2000s that more fundamental changes towards the inclusive end have been brought about. To enable this to be effectively done, three critical success pre-requisites on the part of the Authority can be identified: first, the technical competence to design assessments that can reconcile the traditional functions with the more progressive ones; second, the strategic competence to ensure the intended use of assessments is within the acceptability limits of the value systems of the concerned stakeholders and the society as a whole so that it is more likely that the assessments are used as expected; and third, if necessary, take steps to manage or narrow the differences.

Being structurally segregated from school education by design, the Authority was expected by the Government, its creator and the most influential stakeholder, to be the gatekeeper of the education system when it was established. Since the 2000s, with a much closer partnership with the Curriculum Development Institute, the introduction of the TSA and HKDSEE as cornerstones of the education reform, and provision of support of an unprecedented scale to schools in respect of assessment implementation, it is argued that the Authority has effectively become the Government’s quality monitoring and enhancement agent of the school education system. For other stakeholders, with the HKDSEE recognising a much broader range of student abilities while up-keeping the selection function and widely recognised internationally and locally, the Authority has transformed itself from a gatekeeper to a gateway in addition, enabling our youngsters with different potentials to pursue their future through multiple pathways.

Looking ahead, apart from continuing with the success pre-requisites, this thesis recommends that the Authority should lever its achievement in Hong Kong to establish itself internationally for further enhancement of its organisational capacities.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (EdD)
Supervisors: Murphy, R.J.L.
Keywords: Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, examinations, education and state, educational change Hong Kong (China)
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 13354
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2013 11:05
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 07:15

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