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Educational policy analysis archives
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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 8, no. 24 (May 20, 2000).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c May 20, 2000
Education reform in Hong Kong : issues of consistency, connectedness and culture / Chris Dowson, Peter Bodycott, Allan Walker, [and] David Coniam.
x Research
v Periodicals.
2 710
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
1 773
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
4 856


1 of 15 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 8 Number 24May 20, 2000ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 2000, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES. Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education Education Reform in Hong Kong: Issues of Consistency, Connectedness and Culture Chris Dowson Peter Bodycott Hong Kong Institute of Education Allan Walker David Coniam The Chinese University of Hong KongAbstract Since the early 1990s, the pace of educatio nal reform in Hong Kong has accelerated and broadened to incorporate almost all areas of schooling. The reforms introduced during this perio d can be subsumed under what has generally been labelled the quality movement. In this paper, we review and comment on a number of policy reform initiatives in the four areas of "Quality Education," English L anguage Benchmarking, Initial Teacher Training and the Inte gration of Pupils with Special Needs into Ordinary Classrooms. Follow ing a brief description of each policy initiative, the reforms are discussed in terms of their consistency, coherence and cultural fit.


2 of 15 Since the early 1990s, the pace of educatio nal reform in Hong Kong has accelerated and broadened to incorporate almost all areas of sc hooling. The reforms introduced during this period can be subsumed under what has g enerally been labelled the "quality movement." This stands in contrast to reform thrust s in previous decades, which tended to target the quantitative aspects of schooling. Th e shift from quantity to quality has been driven by at least four interrelated reasons. The first is the successful introduction of nine-year compulsory education in Hong Kong. All students in Hong Kong, regardless of background, are now guaranteed access to schooling to at least Secondary 3 (Grade 9). The second reason has been the growing d issatisfaction from both employers and higher education bodies with student and teache r performance. Related concerns have prompted a search for higher standards and cal ls for increased accountability. A related argument has been a growing concern for gre ater economic competitiveness. The third reason has been the perceived need to secure stability and prosperity for all citizens following the change of sovereignty in July 1997. F inally, the quest for quality education in other countries has influenced Hong Kong policy makers and subsequent calls for reform. In this article, we review and comment on a number of policy reform initiatives introduced in Hong Kong during the 1990s. We do not attempt a thorough review of each policy but rather we set out to describe brief ly the initiatives and then analyse them for consistency connectedness and cultural fit For the purposes of this paper, consistency refers to how the thrust of the reforms and reform components are interpreted. That is, are the reforms consistent, o r do they confuse educators through proposing apparently contradictory purposes. Connectedness refers to whether reforms or reform components are linked in terms of what th ey are trying to achieve and how they are achieved. Questions can be asked as to whe ther the huge array of quality reforms in Hong Kong are coherently connected to ea ch other at the various levels. Cultural fit refers to whether the reforms and reform component s are appropriate given the unique culture and context of Hong Kong and Hon g Kong's educational institutions.Background to Reform Soon after assuming office on July 1st, 199 7, Tung Chee-wah —the first Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative R egion of China (HKSAR)—promised an ambitious public spending progr am, including a massive boost to spending on education. His second policy address in October 1998 included few new initiatives and reiterated the directions establish ed in 1997. The bulk of the policy directives, with the exception of Information Techn ology, had been in train, to varying degrees, for a number of years. In 1997, Tung promised expanded investment in basic education through a 7.6% increase in concurrent expenditure and additional c apital expenditure of approximately US$2.8 billion. Increased funding was intended to s upport a number of what have become continued initiatives. The first group of in itiatives targeted directly the promotion of "quality education." This included the establishment of a US$650 million Quality Education Fund (QEF), a strong move toward School-Based Management (SBM) and a review of the entire education system. Some of these reforms were spelt out in detail in Education Commission Report Number 7 (ECR7) (Education Commission, 1997). The second suite of initiatives focused specifically on improving the quality of teachers. These included requiring a ll new teachers to acquire degree status, the upgrading of graduate posts in primary schools and the proposed


3 of 15Teacher Education Reform Teacher education in Hong Kong up until 199 5 was largely the responsibility of four Colleges of Education and an Institute of Lang uage in Education (ILE). These institutions provided non-graduate training courses for both primary and secondary teachers. In 1992, the Education Commission Report No. 5 (ECR5) was released. It recommended three reforms that would impact signifi cantly on education at all levels in Hong Kong. The first was the recommendation of an e xpansion of tertiary education to provide greater opportunities for graduate teacher training, and the second was an increase in graduate posts in both primary and seco ndary schools. The third recommendation was to amalgamate the existing colle ges and the ILE into a unitary Institute of Education. The mission of the new Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) was to become a centre of excellence in tea cher education and continuous professional development. This would be achieved, i nitially, through the provision of sub-degree courses and later through degree-level c ourses. The amalgamation was completed in 1995, and in 1997 staff of the HKIEd moved into a new purpose-built facility fully dedicated t o teacher education. Following a full institutional review in late 1996, the HKIEd was ad mitted to the governing body of tertiary education in Hong Kong – the University Gr ants Committee. In November 1997, following the new Chief Executive's address emphasi sing a commitment to quality education and an all graduate teaching profession, and the release of ECR7, the HKIEd had the first of two new teacher education courses validated by the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation. These were a Postgradua te Diploma in Education (PGDE) and a four-year Bachelor of Education (Honours) for primary teachers. The first intakes of degree-level and PGDE students were admitted in September 1998. Currently the HKIEd offers 53 courses for 9,500 students and has a staff of 400. The HKIEd is an institution born of reform, and as the main teacher education provider in Hong Kong, it continues to reform itself through internal restruc turing, the addition of new courses and the upgrading of staff. The teacher education reform initiative has enc ountered significant challenges in its implementation and these will be discussed in subse quent sections of the paper. Another reform initiative that continues to create signific ant debate is the decision to tackle perceived declines in language standards through th e compulsory language benchmarking of teachers.English Language Benchmarking In late 1995, the Education Commission publ ished Report Number 6 (ECR6) (Education Commission, 1995). This report responded to the concerns expressed by Government, business and educational bodies about d eclining standards of language skills. The report argues a need for high level lan guage skills among the workforce in Hong Kong, especially as it moves from a manufactur ing to a service industry base. ECR6 highlighted a number of areas for action with regard to language standards. Specifically, the report recommended: The concept of "benchmark" qualifications for all l anguage teachers should be explored by the Advisory Committee on Teacher Ed ucation and Qualifications (ACTEQ) with a view to making propos als to the Government as early as possible in 1996. Minimum language proficiency standards shou ld be specified, which


4 of 15all teachers (not just teachers of language subject s) should meet before they obtain their initial professional qualification. Th e standards should be designed to ensure that new teachers are competent to teach through the chosen medium of instruction. (Education Commission 1995, p.16) The movement toward benchmark qualification s for all language teachers foretold the new HKSAR Government's quality education agenda —the desire for a fully trained language teaching profession in primary and seconda ry schools. The benchmark policy initiative would effect all teachers in Hong Kong, not only those who are language teachers of Chinese, English and Putonghua, but als o teachers of other subjects who operate in either a Chinese or English language med ium. The initiative, by its nature, will, once implemented, directly affect the lives a nd careers of thousands of people and ultimately the lives of children in Hong Kong schoo ls. Therefore, to ensure quality and representativeness of stakeholders in the process, a great deal of interaction, discussion and consultation was subsequently undertaken with r elevant bodies and individuals such as principals, teachers, and other members of the e ducation profession. Other institutional bodies, members of Government, and la y persons in the public, business and commercial sectors were also consulted. The extensive trialing and piloting of the proposed language benchmarks continues and has been approached from an incremental and pha sed perspective. The process, which has taken course from late 1996 to the presen t, has included: A Subject Committee composed of approximately 30 me mbers from tertiary teacher education institutes, teachers and principa ls and teachers from local schools, as well as members from Education Departme nt and other bodies involved in teacher education in Hong Kong was esta blished. The brief of this committee was to set examination specifications and an examination syllabus. 1. For each of the five test papers, Moderation Commit tees were set up under the aegis of the Hong Kong Examinations Authority to pr oduce sample material for distribution to teachers. 2. A representative random sample of approximately 400 teachers for English were invited to take part in a pilot assessment exercise so that actual levels of ability might be estimated, in order to compare actual leve ls of ability with desirable standards recommended by the Subject Committee. 3. The HKSAR Government's targets for the impl ementation of benchmarks are that: Initial benchmarks for teachers of English language in lower secondary schools should be finalised by mid 1999. Benchmarks as exit standards in the Teacher Educati on institutions are expected to be implemented by 2000—2001. All serving language teachers should be benchmarked by 2005, and all teachers who teach through the medium of English or Chinese should be benchmarked by 2008. The proposed benchmark initiative, if succe ssfully implemented, will have a profound effect on the teaching profession in Hong Kong. It remains, however, to be a very contentious issue.Integration Reform


5 of 15 The policy shift from special school placem ent toward the integration of disabled students into mainstream classrooms began in 1986. However, despite recommendations concerning the re-skilling of regular teachers for supporting students with learning needs, minimal implementation followed. In response to concern from parents of disabled students, the ED recommended that a study be made of how integration might best be achieved. In addition, The Board of Educati on (1997) noted that regular primary classrooms contain significant numbers of students who are experiencing difficulty in learning and that this trend would continue in the future. Whether the needs of these children will be fully met, and whether teachers are adequately trained to meet their needs, are issues that continue to be debated. Recommendations have been made that course provider s in Special Education work toward improving the course content and structure o f programmes designed for Special Education teachers and that Special Education be st rengthened in initial teacher education programmes (Board of Education, 1996). The 1997 Report on the Review of 9-year Com pulsory Education specifically identified three major areas of concern that involv e meeting the needs of students with special educational needs in regular classrooms. Th ese deal with the range of individual differences, behavioural problems, and learning dif ferences. Other indicators of the need for broader training in special education have emer ged from seminars and workshops run by the Professional Teachers' Union. These meet ings have given rise to the development of papers that have been submitted to t he Education Department suggesting that regular class teachers must be adequately prep ared to work effectively with low achieving students. Finally, Wilson (1997) raises t he issue of gifted and talented students in Hong Kong. He suggests that catering for these s tudents will help them achieve their potential, and benefit society.Consistency, connectedness and cultural fit Though the reforms briefly discussed are co nsidered, on the whole, progressive, a number of interrelated issues can be raised in rela tion to their implementation and acceptance at an organisational level. We now analy se the policies in terms of their consistency connectedness and cultural fit These frames are defined below. The analysis will touch upon certain parts of the polic ies only. Consistency refers to how people interpret the thrust of the r eforms and reform components or whether they in fact confuse e ducators through proposing apparently contradictory purposes. Questi ons asked include: Are the thrusts of the reforms consistent? That is, do they send contradictory meanings to those charged with implementing the ref orms in their organisations? Connectedness refers to whether the reforms or reform components are linked in terms of what they are trying to achieve and how they are achieved. Questions can be asked about whether the huge array of quality reforms are connected to each other coherently at v arious levels: Are the thrusts of the reforms coherent? That is, are the r eforms purposefully linked to each other? Cultural fit refers to whether the reforms and reform component s are appropriate given the unique culture and context of Hong Kong and Hong Kong's educational institutions. The questions guid ing this frame include: Are the thrusts of the reforms culturally appropria te? That is, are the


6 of 15reforms in their present forms appropriate for the Hong Kong culture and context?Consistency in School Management The reforms proposed in ECR7 do not present an overly consistent picture. This is reflected within and between a number of other refo rms. For example, one form of inconsistency for educators in schools is between t he simultaneous demand for internally driven improvement— agendas supposedly decided upon by the school to meet its unique needs—and externally driven demands for acco untability. One example can be drawn from the ECR7 policy document. It states: "In proposing ways to improve the quality of school education, we consider some commo n standards and measures necessary. However, we are mindful to avoid uniform ity which may overly restrict or restrain schools from developing their own characte ristics" (p. 6). The tension between these dual aims becomes even more pronounced in oth er sections of the document. The example below illustrates pressures for diversity i n Hong Kong schools arising from ECR7. School education in a modern society should be plur alistic. We should allow schools to pursue their own goals and improve performance in different domains with a variety of approaches. To involve teachers, parents and students in school management is conducive to t he development of quality school education. This will not only help b alanced development of students and gain the support of parents, but also enable the school to collate effectively views of teachers. (p 17) In the same document are equally strong req uirements for accountability and for conformity. In their pursuit of quality education, the ED proposes the adoption of a "whole-school approach" to inspections, which calls on an external panel of "experts" to evaluate the performance of schools. In order to bu ild a quality culture in schools, a number of measures must be taken. They include: setting clear and commonly accepted goals for schoo l education and having these goals clearly understood by all players in the scho ol system; translating the goals into achievable, observable a nd measurable quality indicators; developing indicators for assessing school aims and using these indicators as the basis for school plans and external assessment. (pp 7-8) The issue then is not one of whether qualit y assurance programs are necessary, but that schools are often confused by inconsistent sys tem pressures calling for both individual action and direction and imposed account ability. An unintended outcome of regulatory mechanisms, such as quality assurance, m ay be a tendency toward risk avoidance and orthodoxy in many schools which, in t urn, can detract for other facets of the reform.Consistency in Teacher Education Internal and external pressures have fuelle d the rapid and dynamic pace of teacher education reform. During the 1990's there were sign ificant changes in the Directorate of


7 of 15the HKIEd resulting in the almost totally restructu ring of the organisation. Similarly, the change in Government of Hong Kong brought with it a fresh emphasis on improving education, in particular the hastened call for an a ll-graduate teaching force. The result has been an inconsistenc y in the way HKIEd staff behave and respond to reforms based on ideological differences about the nature of graduate-level academic study. Within the HKIEd a tension existed, more notably during the initial development of degree-level courses between what ca n be loosely described as academic rationalists and social-constructivist educators. A cademic rationalists placed emphasis on ownership of subject content, focus the teaching content on the development of subject knowledge and more summative modes of asses sment. Academic rigour and the desire for external accountability were seen to dri ve these lines of thinking. However, social constructivist educators placed greater emph asis on the integration of subject knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and teaching metho ds. The modes of assessment used reflected similar integration and a greater em phasis on process than product. The tensions were amplified by a lack of direction and inconsistent feedback through reports from Government about the preferred qualities of Ho ng Kong teachers and, to some extent, by the background experiences of staff.Consistency in English Language Benchmarking It has been mentioned above that the benchm ark initiative deals with three languages—English, Chinese and Putonghua. Standards should therefore be consistent across the three languages. There has been a consid erable difference in approaches to the benchmarks for the three languages in terms of phil osophy and well as in the approach to marking. For example, with reference to marking, it needs to be considered whether the approach should be from the positive viewpoint of "can do" skills, as opposed to penalising a teacher for errors and failing someone after a certain number of errors have been made. One issue that has aroused great controvers y in the local media focuses on who should be benchmarked. The initial thrust of the be nchmarking exercise focused on establishing benchmarks for lower secondary school teachers of English language, for Chinese as a medium of instruction in primary schoo ls and Putonghua as a foreign language in secondary schools. If the Government's claim that teacher standards in language ability form a cornerstone in the upgradin g of education, it is crucial that the exercise not stop at this initial cohort of teacher s but continue to examine teachers and teacher educators across all sectors of education. It has been agreed by many sectors of educa tion that benchmarks should be introduced for teachers in pre-service training. Wh at is less clear is the extent to which the policy will be implemented for in-service teach ers. As might be expected, there is considerable opposition from serving teachers (with marked pressure from the Professional Teachers' Union) who state that servin g teachers have already been certified and therefore do not need to be "re-certified." A further case concerns exemptions in terms of whether – or indeed should —any teacher(s) be exempted in terms of qualifications, background or age. This is a very contentious issue, as exemptions need to be examine d on a case-by-case basis. Raising standards requires a substantial fi nancial commitment. On this basis, it must be stated that the HKSAR Government is being c onsistent in its approach to the upgrading of education. It realises that it cannot be done on the cheap. Recurrent resources have been set aside (some US$100 million for the period 2000 to 2008), so that language courses are available for every teach er in Hong Kong (there are


8 of 15approximately 50,000 teachers across the different educational strata in Hong Kong). It is expected that these teachers will want to enrol on such courses.Consistency in Integration in Special Education Arguably one of the most glaring inconsiste ncies in integration is the practice of integrating disabled students into regular schools by placing them in special classrooms within the schools. This is at odds with a recent e qual opportunity ordinance aimed at eliminating discrimination against the disabled (Di sability Discrimination Ordinance, 1998). There are further problems of inconsistency between policy and its interpretation. For example, inclusion has been called "integration," "mainstreaming" and "normalisation," and schools have interpreted each of these terms differently. Another inconsistency stems from a mis-transferrance from s mall-scale research findings to larger scale implementation.Connectedness in School Management Many of the reforms in Hong Kong have been driven by different educational, political, economic and social agendas. Some polici es, such as the Target Oriented Curriculum (TOC) and the SMI were introduced during British rule as a means of democratising education. Others were introduced to smooth the change of sovereignty and yet other to address political calls for an inc rease in standards. Often, these reforms have been simply stacked on top each other with lit tle consideration of how they support or relate to each other. As an example, consider ECR7 and the Target Oriented Curriculum—the major school curriculum reform vehicle. TOC is directed a t teachers in the classroom while ERC7 largely provides administrative, organisationa l and structural strategies for school reform. ECR7's effects are felt mostly at the whole -school and department levels rather than at individual teacher and classroom level. If school performance is most directly affected by quality teaching, learning and curricul a, then ECR7, with its focus on management and governance, stops short of penetrati ng to the classroom-teacher level. It then becomes an act of faith to believe that SBM wi ll necessarily transform the variables, which directly impact on school performa nce—namely, the cognition and behaviours of teachers and students in classrooms. ECR7 uses the core concept of school culture but offers little on how to build such cult ures to promote quality teaching, learning and curricula. TOC, on the other hand, aims to influence s tudent learning at the classroom level and neglects the organisational level. TOC is not e ven mentioned in the ECR7 document. Therefore, the question is whether policy makers have considered the linkages—how the reforms support each other —betwee n these two key areas? The answer appears to be "no." Both reforms are perceiv ed as discrete entities, the former seen as the business of principals and senior teach ers, the latter, the concern of classroom teachers. Both reforms need to be conside red as an integral whole and all stakeholders need an appreciation and understanding of how they can best enhance student learning and school performance (Dimmock & Walker, 1998a).Connectedness in Teacher Education One cited reason behind the teacher educati on reform initiatives was the perceived


9 of 15need for teachers to cope with an increased range o f curriculum reforms. However, teachers and teacher educators have struggled with these reform policy initiatives because of a lack of connectedness between them. Fo r example, the relationship between TOC, integration, and benchmarking, at a macro and micro level has not been made clear. Reform guidelines lack detail or stated expe ctations, and therefore individuals within the education community including teacher ed ucators are forced to second guess the exact nature of the reform and how it may or ma y not connect with other reforms. Within the HKIEd this has led in some cases to significant differences in understandings about the reform intent and in respe ct to responsibility for developing reform related materials. The result has been confu sion and conflict about the effect of reform implementation at both the tertiary and scho ol levels.Connectedness in Benchmarking We have discussed the issue of improving ed ucation through the perspective of upgrading teacher professionalism. While language i s important, it is only one aspect of an able teacher, however. Holistically, one aspect of connectedness can be perceived from the declaration (HKSAR Chief Executive's Polic y Address, 1997) that the teaching profession will move to an all-graduate profession, and that, from 2004, all teachers in secondary schools will need to hold a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) in order to be able to work in schools – which is not currently the case. However, in terms of benchmarking, there is a perceived lack of conne ctedness between the design, development and test specifications of the benchmar ks for the three languages (English, Chinese and Putonghua).Connectedness in Integration Current integration reform finds itself in competition with several other reforms simultaneously foisted onto schools. For example, u nder SBM, schools can make decisions about meeting their own needs and priorit ies. While this suggests that integration might be more readily achieved, the rea lity of the situation is that due to the vicissitudes of school examination results, when gi ven a choice, schools will give priority to reforms which result in improved examin ation results—at the expense of integration. Many schools fail to perceive the conn ectedness between integration and other reforms. While this can be partly blamed on t he unwillingness of schools to include students with special education and learnin g needs, ED has an obvious duty to connect with schools through communication and deve lop firmer bonds to counter this problem.Culture in School Management The final issue relates to the cultural app licability of educational reforms in Hong Kong. Reforms such as ECR7 are driven very much by global educational trends. For example, ECR7 is reflective of School-Based Managem ent policies emanating from Western English-speaking countries. Given Hong Kong 's status as a "colony" until very recently, the importation of the educational reform agenda is perhaps not surprising. Nonetheless, the phenomenon of exporting reforms fr om societies and importing them into others whose characteristics, values and condi tions are different raises concerns about their cultural appropriateness.


10 of 15 While Hong Kong people display many charact eristics of "Westernisation," the underpinning culture is very much Hong Kong Chinese Among the questions this poses in regard to educational reform are the following:— to what extent are British, American and Australian policy blueprints appropriate to mee t the educational needs of Hong Kong? For non-western societies, are there more app ropriate alternatives to SBM and to curriculum reforms driven by student-centred approa ches and learning outcomes? If there are not, then what, if any, adaptations to im ported Western policies are needed? This is particularly relevant at the point of schoo l implementation. These issues do not appear to have been seriously considered by policy makers but certainly must be dealt with continually at the school level (Dimmock & Wal ker, 1998b).Culture in Teacher Education The flow-on effect of educational reform in Hong Kong during the 1990's has resulted in significant changes to the preparation of teachers. The decision to create the HKIEd has placed teacher education under the micros cope, and increased attention on the quality of teacher educators. Many staff at the HKIEd feel they have been forced to join a university-type culture in which their exper ience, qualifications and professional practices are not valued. Staff are required to att ain higher degrees, including doctorates, undertake research, publish in internationally reco gnised journals, undertake teaching attachments in local schools, and update the depth and breadth of their subject knowledge, teaching content and assessment practice s. These changes are not out of the ordinary for many university-based teacher educator s. However, for many staff, their origins and experience lay in sub-degree granting i nstitutions, where the emphasis and expectations were somewhat different. The shift to a university culture and assoc iated work practices has resulted in significant tension within the institution. The emp hasis on greater public accountability, staff appraisal, promotion and substantiation based increasingly on an individual's ability to conform to the shift in work culture, has result ed in the loss of experienced staff.Culture and Benchmarking The perspective of culture may be viewed fr om two angles. First, from the perspective of what might be termed "respect," the introduction of benchmarking will inevitably mean that teachers may risk a possible l oss of standing. Having to sit an external test such as the benchmark test to prove t heir worth may mean a possible loss of face, certainly if they were to fail. Second, in ma ny older, more established and traditional schools, a teacher is often regarded as a "sage." While it is acceptable for teachers to foist tests on their students and to ma ke their students aware of their shortcomings, the possibility of being afforded the same treatment is creating some concern. This also links to the perspective of an "e xam culture." Hong Kong is a very exam-oriented society, where teachers frequently ap ply various benchmarks to their students' performance. However, when teachers thems elves are subjected to a benchmark test in front of a live class, this puts a different face to the benchmark assessment. Teachers are apprehensive about the spr ead of the benchmark culture to include an assessment of own language ability.Culture and Integration


11 of 15 As with other policy initiatives, integrati on reform has, in general, come from a Western perspective. Within schools, there are a nu mber of potential cultural impediments. First, most schools are driven by the need to achieve highly in public examinations. Any threat to such achievement may re sult in open resistance to integration. Second, there is also a tendency for t eachers to gear their teaching to the average achievers and ignore those who experience d ifficulty in learning. Both these aspects strike at the heart of i ntegration. There is little evidence of the Hong Kong Education Commission's 21st century bluep rint push toward "…help (for) all its students whatever their ability…" The Hong Kong school culture is further characterised by curriculum rigidity. The need to t each to the examination is pervasive. Sometimes such rigidity is manifested by excessive adherence to the curriculum, or an outdated style of teaching. Disabled students need flexibility in what and how things are done. Cultures have differing attitudes toward disa blement, and in some instances those who are different, may not be highly valued. It is only by education and supported exposure to disabled students that schools and pers onnel become less resistant to change. There is comfort in the status quo, usually set by the dominant culture, in this case, so called "normal people." The cultural statu s quo is maintained by the omission of disabled students from regular schools, and by thei r grouping into categorical special schools.Conclusion Issues of consistency, coherence and cultur e have led many within the educational community to become cynical about the "real" effect s of educational reforms. Despite the noble purpose of many of the reforms, such cyni cism, if left unchecked, has the potential to further damage the efficacy and influe nce of the reforms at the level where they are intended to make a difference—at a school and classroom level. It is to be hoped that due consideration of the factors involve d in reform implementation will lead to more positive and effective changes in the quali ty of education in Hong Kong. As with most contexts, Hong Kong policy mak ers are continually making reforms. This is evident in Hong Kong, as Education Commissi on Report, No. 8 (ECR8) (Education Commission, 1999) is released with the p ublication of this paper. ECR8 proposes wide-ranging reforms to the Hong Kong educ ational system at kindergarten, elementary, secondary and tertiary levels of the ed ucational system, and moots reforms which will serve to accentuate the issues of consistency, coherence and culture discussed in this article.ReferencesDimmock, C., & Walker, A. (1998a). Comparative Educ ational Administration: Developing a Cross-Cultural Conceptual Framework. Educational Administration Quarterly, 34 (4), 558-95. Dimmock, C., & Walker, A. (1998b) Transforming Hong Kong Schools: Trends and emerging issues. Journal of Educational Administration, 36 (5), 476-509. Disabilities Discrimination Ordinance. (1998). In Law of Hong Kong, Chapter 487. Hong Kong: Government Printer.Education and Manpower Branch and Education Departm ent. (1991). The School


12 of 15Management Initiative – Setting the Framework for Q uality in Hong Kong Schools Hong Kong: Government Printer.Education Commission. (1992). Education Commission Report No. 5 (ECR5). Hong Kong: Government Printer.Education Commission. (1995). Education Commission Report No. 6 (ECR6). Hong Kong: Government Printer.Education Commission. (1997). Education Commission Report No. 7 (ECR7). Hong Kong: Government Printer.Education Commission. (2000). Education Commission Report No. 8 (ECR8). Hong Kong: Government Printer.Education Commission. (1999). Education Blueprint f or the 21st Century: Review of Academic System: Aims of Education: Consultation Do cument Hong Kong: Government Printer.HKSAR Chief Executive's Policy Address. (1997). Hon g Kong: Government Printer. The Board of Education. (1997). Report of the Subcommittee on Special Education. Hong Kong: Government Printer.The Board of Education. (1997). Report on Review of 9year Compulsory Education Hong Kong: Government Printer.Wilson, H. P. (1997). A Comparison of Policies and Implementation Strategies for the Education of Gifted and Talented Children in Select ed Pacific Rim Countries. In J. Chan, R. Li & J. Spinks (Eds.), Maximizing Potential: Lengthening and Strengthening our Stride Hong Kong: Social Sciences Research Centre, Unive rsity of Hong Kong. Eleventh World Conference for Gifted and Talented C hildren, July-August 1995, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. About the AuthorsChris Dowson Senior Lecturer, Department of Special NeedsHong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong. Email: Chris Dowson specializes in inclusion studies and c ommunication. His research interests focus on hearing impairment, second language learni ng and quality indicators in education. He teaches courses on classroom practice and effective methods. Peter BodycottPrincipal Lecturer, Department of English, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong KongPeter Bodycott has taught in schools and higher edu cation in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. His most recent teaching, research inter est and publications focus on pre-


13 of 15 service teacher thinking, second language learning and teaching, and the role of narrative in leadership and teacher education.Allan WalkerAssociate ProfessorDepartment of Educational Administration and PolicyThe Chinese University of Hong KongAllan Walker specializes in educational leadership and policy. His major research interests center on the influence of societal cultu re on educational administration and leadership, principal assessment and strategic plan ning in schools. David ConiamAssociate ProfessorDepartment of Curriculum and InstructionThe Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong KongDavid Coniam is a teacher educator, working with ES L teachers in Hong Kong secondary schools. His main publication and researc h interests are in language testing, computational linguistics and language teaching met hodology.Copyright 2000 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 8 5287-0211. (602-965-9644). The Commentary Editor is Casey D. C obb: .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary


14 of 15 Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Western Interstate Commission for HigherEducation William McInerney Purdue University Mary McKeown-Moak MGT of America (Austin, TX) Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo Richard C. Richardson New York University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers Ann Leavenworth Centerfor Accelerated Learning Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC Robert Stonehill U.S. Department of Education David D. Williams Brigham Young UniversityEPAA Spanish Language Editorial BoardAssociate Editor for Spanish Language Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico Adrin Acosta (Mxico) Universidad de J. Flix Angulo Rasco (Spain) Universidad de Teresa Bracho (Mxico) Centro de Investigacin y DocenciaEconmica-CIDEbracho Alejandro Canales (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma Ursula Casanova (U.S.A.) Arizona State Jos Contreras Domingo Universitat de Barcelona Erwin Epstein (U.S.A.) Loyola University of Josu Gonzlez (U.S.A.) Arizona State Rollin Kent (Mxico)Departamento de InvestigacinEducativa-DIE/ Mara Beatriz Luce (Brazil)Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do


15 of 15 Javier Mendoza Rojas (Mxico)Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicojaviermr@servidor.unam.mxMarcela Mollis (Argentina)Universidad de Buenos Humberto Muoz Garca (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicohumberto@servidor.unam.mxAngel Ignacio Prez Gmez (Spain)Universidad de Daniel Schugurensky (Argentina-Canad)OISE/UT, Simon Schwartzman (Brazil)Fundao Instituto Brasileiro e Geografiae Estatstica Jurjo Torres Santom (Spain)Universidad de A Carlos Alberto Torres (U.S.A.)University of California, Los

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