HomeThe Asia-Pacific Education Researchervol. 20 no. 2 (2011)

Assessing English Language Arts in Hong Kong Secondary Schools

Siu Yin Annie Tong

Discipline: Education, Literature, Languages



This paper focuses on assessment processes adopted in English Language Arts (LA) classrooms in Hong Kong secondary schools. LA is promoted in the form of a wide range of activities involving poems, novels, and other forms of literature, with a view to fostering creativity and language awareness in learners. Curricular documents emphasize the role of assessment as an essential element in the learning process, and advocate performance-based assessment (PBA), with focuses on constructed responses, higher-order thinking, authenticity and integrativeness as an approach to assessment that is coherent with the beliefs underpinning the teaching and learning of English LA. However, little is currently known about how LA is actually assessed in schools. This study examines various assessment tasks and their criteria, student LA work, and feedback drawn from four schools to capture the grounded reality and identify what is expected and valued in student performance in LA. The findings reveal that teachers tend to focus on specific technical language usage in which accuracy and appropriacy are major criteria in assessing students’ LA products. This emphasis represents an apparent incoherence between the features of PBA as promoted in the LA curriculum and the implemented reality in LA classrooms.