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Educational policy analysis archives
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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 11, no. 5 (February 06, 2003).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c February 06, 2003
Continuing education reform in Hong Kong : issues of contextualization / 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)
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1 of 28 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 11 Number 5February 6, 2003ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly journal Editor: Gene V Glass College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 2003, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES .Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. EPAA is a project of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory. 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 .Continuing Education Reform in Hong Kong: Issues of Contextualization Chris Dowson Hong Kong Institute of Education Peter Bodycott Hong Kong Institute of Education Allan Walker The Chinese University of Hong Kong David Coniam The Chinese University of Hong KongCitation: Dowson, C., Bodycott, P., Walker, A., and Coniam, D. (2003, February 6.) Continuing education reform in Hong Kong: Issues of contextualization, Education Policy Analysis Archives 11 (5). Retrieved [date] from


2 of 28AbstractFollowing initiations in educational reform that be gan in the 1990s, Hong Kong continues to experience considerable pres sure for educational reform. On the surface many of these in itiatives parallel reform policies/movements in Asia and indeed, globa lly. The success of any reform is dependent on how it is contextualised prior to and at implementation. In this article, an exploration is made into how reforms in four particular sareas, namely: professional dev elopment of principals, higher education, English language standards, and i nclusion of students with learning difficulties have been conceived, con textualised and managed in Hong Kong, as it moves gradually toward increased adoption of education reforms. These areas are linked in tha t each describes and critiques contextualization with reference to areas such as accountability, co-operation and professional control.Background to the Continuance of Education Reform i n Hong KongSince the early to mid-1990s, Hong Kong, like many societies throughout the Asia-Pacific Region and beyond has been engaged in continual educational reform. The reforms cover almost the gamut of educational level s and issues. Reforms over the last decade have left few areas of education untouched. For example, they have included language teaching and learning, improving teacher q uality, curriculum development, special education and various approaches to schoolbased management. The most recent reform initiatives are driven by the Blueprint for the 21st Century (Education Commission, 1999.), which sets the overall aims of education and maps a framework for reforms. The key elements in the Blueprint center a round: expanding the opportunities for education and build a lifelong learning society introducing flexibility, diversity and choice in th e system to accommodate individual differences and develop potential to its fullest creating an aspiring learning environment so that s tudents are intrinsically motivated to explore and learn on their own introducing multi-dimensional assessments to encour age all-round development empowering frontline educators and enhancing the pr ofessionalism of principals and teachers. Such efforts are focused directly on improving teac hing and learning. The immediate tasks include the upgrading of language proficiency enhancing school leadership and the professionalism of teachers, broadening access to education, and building flexible pathways for professional development. In short, re cent and current reforms target increased decentralization, raising standards, incr eased accountability, equity and the building of professionalism. These efforts are just part of a very crowded educational reform environment in Hong Kong—one which influence s educators at all levels. The reforms introduced are, on the whole, typical o f the educational reform environment in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Despi te the vast social, cultural and political diversity of the Asia-Pacific Region ther e appear to be a cluster of reforms which seem remarkably similar, at least in espoused intent, across the region. These reforms say the right things and promise much. Howe ver, it is suggested that the success


3 of 28of any reform is dependent not on its rhetoric or i ts shape but how it is "negotiated" and implemented within a particular system or school.In the following sections we will briefly explore h ow important reforms in Hong Kong have been conceived, contextualised and managed. Th e four reforms covered are: The professional development of school principals 1. Higher education 2. English language standards 3. The inclusion of students with learning difficultie s 4. Each section will describe and discuss (the process or content) of contextualisation with reference to areas such as accountability, co-opera tion and professional control.Professional Development of Principals (PPD) in Hon g KongRecognition of the key role of the school principal in education reform has grown substantially over the last decade or so. Such inte rest, at varying times and rates, is apparent in almost all societies in East and Southe ast Asia. Educational reforms either targeting the role of the principal or areas that h ave an influence on this role are increasingly common. Accompanying such interest in the principalship are concerns that principals are unlikely to be able to play the role demanded of them unless they have the appropriate knowledge, skills, attributes and value s required of reforming schools (Walker, Begley & Dimmock, 2000).The reforms that continue to have the greatest infl uence on the role of the principal in the region are decentralization and the move toward school based management. Such reforms generally encapsulate school restructuring; school-based curriculum development; school development planning; increased teacher and parent involvement in decision-making and the formation of school coun cils. Other aspects may include delegated budgeting and human resource management; centralized curriculum planning using a learning outcomes framework; increased acco untability to the central bureaucracy; increased parental choice of school; a nd greater competition between schools for students.The gravity of these reforms has spawned considerab le interest throughout the region in ways to help principals meet the emerging challenge s of their role. For example, in Taiwan, Lin (2001) states, "reinventing schools req uires exceptional school leaders—such leaders require a commensurate level o f support and professional development to make the required role shift and, in many cases, this has not been forthcoming. This casts some doubt on whether they can adopt the new roles" (p. 8). In Japan, Muta (2000) comments, "The leadership and ma nagement skills of school principals are indispensable, but the current requi rements for those positions are very strict, making it very difficult to find qualified persons" (p. 464). He adds "...some questions exist as to whether the principals can ca rry out such non-traditional tasks" (p. 464). In Hong Kong, Cheung (2000) expresses similar sentiments thus: Hong Kong principals face an uncertain, constantly changing and rather stressful future. Many are indeed over-worked as th ey face wave upon wave of reform initiatives. Additional responsibilities without adequate resources have made the role changes much more painful than n ecessary. How to find


4 of 28more room and time for principals to metamorphose i nto a new breed that can lead Hong Kong's schools triumphantly into the new millennium is an issue that needs pondering and concern by both auth orities and the principals themselves. (p. 62). Almost identical concerns in the UK and various sta tes in the US and Australia have led to a proliferation of principal and leadership cent ers and subsequent increases in "training" opportunities for school principals. Reg ional societies have also publicly recognized that if schools are to change and improv e, especially in an environment of decentralization and school-based management, then principals must be equipped to deal with uncertainty and actually lead, not just manage Policy makers in Hong Kong have recently moved to p romote the further professional development of principals. Although the rhetoric of principal training and development has been present in Hong Kong for almost 10 years, little of any substance has actually been provided, except to small, targeted groups. On the whole, Principal Professional Development (PPD) has been a loosely structured and carried out on an ad hoc basis In the main, its content and mode of operation has bee n decided and guided by the institutes of higher education; often based on thei r expertise rather than the needs of the principals themselves, or the reforms they are inte nded to implement. Alternatively, PPD courses have been prescribed by the Education Depar tment and geared largely toward the technical/managerial skills considered necessar y to run a school. However, recent moves by the Education Department (ED) have begun t o lay a framework for a more holistic and coherent approach to principal develop ment. In January 1999 the Education Department establishe d a task group to look into the training and development of school heads. This grou p developed a tentative program and framework "to equip and develop school principals w ith the necessary knowledge, skills and attributes to become competent leaders to lead schools into the new millennium" (Cheng, 2000, p.68). In the resultant consultation document Leadership Training Program for School Principals the group proposed th e following objectives for program participants. These were to: assess personal leadership potential for further tr aining and development increase understanding of the critical role of a pr incipal in the development and maintenance of effective schools improve skills in strategic planning and implementa tion processes understand global developments and their implicatio ns for education and the school shape a personal vision for leadership and continuo us development While the consultation document was generally posit ively received, some interest groups expressed reservations about certain recommendation s. These reservations included the difficulties instituting a "uniform" program for al l principals (and potential principals) and the requirement that serving principals obtain a "certificate of principalship" by a set date. In reaction to these and other concerns, a se cond consultation document was released in February 2002. The consultation paper w as entitled Continuing Professional Development for School Excellence (Education Depart ment, 2002). This document presented a coherent framework for principals' prof essional development one that aimed to meet the needs of Hong Kong practicing and aspiring principals at various stages of development.


5 of 28Link to reformThe development and release of the two consultation documents and the promise of resources to support PPD by policy makers signaled recognition of the link between principal professional development and the successf ul implementation of educational reform in Hong Kong. It many ways, the consultation documents can be seen as the single most important move toward recognizing and s ystematizing principal training and development to come out for many years. As such, th e initiative attempted to address a number of major concerns that have undermined previ ous efforts. Perhaps the most serious concern addressed by the emerging PPD polic y was the lack of coherence and connectivity previously evident between and within the various components of PPD across levels. According to the document, PPD must target three distinct groups—Aspiring Principals (AP), Newly Appointed Pr incipal (NAP) and Serving Principals (SP).Linkage between the three levels is proposed throug h what the document refers to as the Six Core Areas of Leadership These key areas of the principalship are common a cross the three levels of the principalship, although cov erage and depth depends on the level. Attempts are also in train to build-in coherence be tween levels in terms of courses and other mechanisms. Linkage within levels is addresse d through the inclusion of needs assessment, designated intensive and ongoing course s (partly based on outcomes of the assessment) and a certification processes. For exam ple, according to the new policy, Newly Appointed Principals (NAP) begin their profes sional development by completing a needs assessment which is used, in turn, to infor m group professional development offerings and individual development plans. Similar approaches are in-train or planned for APs and SPs.IssuesAlthough there is no doubt that the current policy is a very positive forward step, a number of implementation issues hold the potential to impede the efficacy of the policy and accompanying programs. A first issue may be the number of different providers involved. Although this does not present a difficul ty per se it is obviously healthy to include multiple providers playing to their strengt hs, problems may arise if these providers disregard the established framework, or i gnore the intended linkage between the needs assessment and designated programs, and d esign their inputs only in terms of their own interests. Such actions could weaken the effect of all the interrelated components and return principal professional develo pment to its traditional fragmented and decontextualized roots. Another related articul ation difficulty might arise between offerings and mechanisms for various groups of prin cipals. Given that the framework divides principals into three groups, there appears a need to impose more stringent quality assurance mechanisms to prevent duplication and ensure relevance. A further implementation blockage is that the curre nt professional development initiatives are not linked to principal recruitment or selection. Aspiring principals and school governing bodies may not take PPD seriously if it remains de-linked from actually applying for and winning a position as pri ncipal. Unless principals and aspiring principals see a clearer, pragmatic purpose to prof essional development, such as selection or articulation to further degrees, the P D offerings may not be valued, or


6 of 28effective. Although it is hard to avoid, at the per sonal level there is also a danger of a lack of coherence, if insufficiently motivated indi vidual principals engage in professional development in a very shallow manner.How, why and where programs are conceptualized and developed may also hinder effective implementation. In many instances, there appears a continued, over-reliance on higher education institutions knowing what is best for aspiring and serving principals. Hence, although policy makers may reinforce relevan ce in terms of rhetoric, in reality, local providers (or individuals within certain orga nizations) may continue to develop professional development programs based on their ex pertise and ideologies rather than on what principals want and need to implement refor ms. A result of this can be that offerings are overly formal (e.g. restricted to for mal face-to-face courses and workshops), too practically biased (with little int ellectual input) or, more often than not, overly theoretical and detached from the lives of p rincipals. Such charges, unfortunately, are not uncommon in PPD programs where designers to o often ignore the fact that much of what principals do is context specific, and that simple formulas, models or recipes distinctive to each context are not readily replica ble. Until universities and other providers establish meaningful partnerships with pr incipals at all stages of professional development there may well be continue to be a size able gap between offerings and the real life of schools.A further blockage to the successful implementation of PPD in Hong Kong is the continued homage paid to overseas theories, present ers, frameworks and ideas, particularly English and American models (Walker & Dimmock, in press). As in many societies in the region, there is often an over-rel iance on Western, mainly Anglo-American theory, values and beliefs in terms of overall policy adoption and in many areas of education. In terms of principal's pr ofessional development, unconsidered adoption can hamper the meaning of the program cont ent for participants and influence its design, structure and even presentation. Althou gh cross-fertilization of ideas and approaches is generally positive, there may not be enough recognition that theory, practice and imported expertise is often culturally insensitive or inappropriate. In short, it is difficult to see how PPD can be relevant if i t depends almost exclusively on people and ideas located in very different contexts and cu ltures. One way to counter such a difficulty is to institute feedback mechanisms that provide local professionals (principals) with opportunities to comment, shift a nd adapt imported offerings to local needs. An even more effective mechanism is to ensur e that programs respond to local needs as identified through systematic needs analys is. Another implementation blockage relates to the poli tical/micro-political environment within which professional development takes place. In many ways, this is related to the issues of coherence and continuity noted earlier. H istorically, Hong Kong has practiced an established tradition of "sharing" out the provi sion of professional development to the various, relevant higher education institutions. Al though unarticulated, this tradition has been based on a "keep everyone on-side and happy" p hilosophy. Such practices are antithetical to quality PPD and emphasize political rather than content/delivery concerns. Petty jealousies and competition between academic i nstitutions can upset the intent and implementation of professional development. While c oncerns focus on matters other than the relevance and quality of professional deve lopment opportunities and provision, the efficacy of PPD may be questioned.Finally, the implementation of PPD in Hong Kong may also be blocked by its lack of a


7 of 28"hard edge." In other words, the standard of accoun tability mechanisms may be inadequate both in terms of the principals involved in the process and for the providers. For example, there are no obvious mechanisms to gau ge the effect of the professional development on leadership actually in the school. N either are there stringent requirements for providers to show that their outco mes have in fact been achieved. Although the emerging policy is attempting to addre ss this issue, particularly through the needs assessment process, it has some distance to g o. Recent policy then, is aimed at the professional de velopment of aspiring, new and serving principals in Hong Kong holds previously un equaled opportunities to build principal professionalism. The scope of the changes calls for a marked shift in culture in terms of how principals, providers and the system p erceive and operationally PPD. At it's most basic level, the new policy requires a ch ange in mind-set—away from the belief that principals do not need to learn, or learn by o smosis. For principals to successfully reshape their role they must have access to meaning ful professional development. For such development to become relevant and offer any c hance of real change it should be developed in concert with principals themselves and be adequately resourced and rewarded by departments and ministries of education It should also be linked closely to the reforms principals are expected to implement an d shaped to form a coherent program rather than the piecemeal, fragmented attempts that comprise the norm. Much of the responsibility for making professional development meaningful, of course, lies with principals themselves and their willingne ss to take some control of their own destinies. Although the emerging PPD policy holds m uch promise, it faces a number of fairly major hurdles if it is to be implemented in a way that truly benefits principals and cajoles them toward greater professionalism and ref orm.Teacher Education Reform: The Challenge of Contextu alisationOver the past 25 years there has been an explosion of knowledge about brain development, cognition, learning theory and their r elationship to student motivation and achievement (Lynch, 2000). In Hong Kong this knowle dge has gradually made its way into educational reform documentation that posed an d continues to pose significant challenges to the way the curriculum is structured and the ways children are taught. The challenge for teacher educators is to figure out ho w to incorporate new knowledge, required by reform initiatives, in to our teacher e ducation curriculum, in order that new teachers understand how ultimately to advance stude nt achievement in their classrooms. This is a difficult task, made more difficult in Ho ng Kong by reform initiatives that apparently contradict one another, and by a school system that does not necessarily welcome students well versed and skilled in new app roaches to learning, teaching and assessment, or equipped with a notion of profession alism, which includes the right to question existing practice.In this section of the paper it will be argued that a paradox exists between the requirements of reform and the needs of schools. Th is paradox places, for one institution specifically, undue political demands and expectati ons on the teacher education curriculum, teacher educators and student teachers. It is also argued that to overcome the apparent paradox, teacher education curriculum refo rm is required in which issues of contextualisation are addressed.


8 of 28The Reform ContextRecently released education reforms (Education Comm ission (EC) 2000) comprise wide scale changes to all sectors of education in Hong K ong. The reforms encompass a broad vision based on the principles of learner-centered education and related changes to the curriculum, modes and focus of instruction, assessm ent opportunities, wholeschool management, enhanced professionalism, and opportuni ties for lifelong learning. The reforms also embrace the worldwide trend toward acc ountability through standard-based assessment. Inherent in the reforms are recommended changes or modifications to all stages of education: Early Childhood to Higher Educ ation and Continuing Education. More substantial than the mere scope of reform is t he depth of reform, which strikes at the ideological heart of education in Hong Kong. Th e reforms are summarized in the following five principles. Learning should be focused on students' personal de velopment and allowing room and flexibility for students to be masters of their own learning. There should be no "dead-end screening" to block le arning opportunities. Learners should be given due recognition for what they achie ve. Access should be provided and means sought to ensur e learners realize their potentials. "Everybody should achieve basic standar ds and strive for excellence." Learning should not be limited to school subjects o r examination syllabuses, students should be prepared for the realities of li fe All sectors of the community are expected to contri bute to the reforms. (EC, 2000) It is clear that the reforms aim at improving teach ing learning standards and accountability across all stages of education throu gh changes and improvements in academic structure, curriculum, and instruction and assessment mechanisms at the various levels. However, while several of the refor ms, such as the development of technological expertise and meeting the needs of di verse learners appear compatible with general developments in higher education and s chool curriculum, other aspects appear to contradict one another, e.g. learner-cent ered teaching based on a premise of teaching for understanding and standards-based asse ssment. In addition, there are problems associated with competing ideologies and r elated perceptions of educational aims and practices between policy makers, and polic y implementers, (which are the schools). These apparent contradictions and differe nces of opinion raise serious questions regarding contextualisation.The reform documentation clearly acknowledges a des ire to shift classroom instruction away from the transmission of knowledge to learning how to learn i.e., establishing a new culture of learning and teaching. However, ques tions must be raised about contextual or cultural relevance of such a movement For modern Chinese, Confucianism remains a critical element in their cu ltural identity (Chan, 1999). Closely linked to this is a traditional view of the teacher as authoritarian and one whose role is that of transmitting knowledge through instructiona l methods such as rote and repetitive learning. Such methods are reinforced by an emphasi s by the teacher and parents on demonstrable knowledge achievements in the form of test score attainment. Therefore, to propose educational reforms that clearly contras t with firmly established cultural styles of learning and teaching, through assertions such as "the fostering of learning


9 of 28abilities [to be] more important than the imparting of knowledge" creates something of a educational paradox; to marry the needs of continuo us change through reform and innovation on one hand to an educational system tha t fundamentally rewards conformity and orthodoxy on the other. In Hong Kong, politics also plays a significant role in deepening the paradoxical gap between preparing ref orm-savvy beginning teachers and the contextual reality of schools.Contextualisation in respect to teacher education a nd general education reform is defined as the negotiation and adaptation of a policy, prog ramme or curriculum approach for a more meaningful fit to the values, norms and struct ures of a host culture or organization (Bodycott, in press). The concept and more importan tly the issues arising from its application pose one the greatest challenges for an y teacher education institution intent on creating and maintaining change.Contextualisation and Teacher Education in Hong Kon gHigher education in Hong Kong refers to all learnin g opportunities above secondary school level. This includes post-secondary school c olleges, universities, extra-mural departments of universities, non-local tertiary ins titutions and the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd), a teacher education facility and itself a successful product of EC Report 5 in 1992, and the main source of primary sc hool teachers for the HKSAR. The challenge and associated problems posed to teac her education institutions by the reforms in respect to curriculum; instruction and a ssessment are similar to those discussed generally above. That is, not to confine curriculum to the transmission of knowledge and skills, but to provide students with training in aspects of culture, emotion, moral conscience and mentality. Specifical ly, the reform recommendations require all higher education institutions to "revie w the functions, contents, focuses and modes of teaching… to strike a balance between the [content] breadth and depth" (EC, 2000, p. 113). Higher education must provide learni ng experiences and opportunities to "develop-broad based knowledge and vision, as well as enhancement of individual students problemsolving power and adaptability" ( EC, 2000, p. 111). Hong Kong institutions of higher education are being challeng ed to rethink their whole approach to curriculum and instruction.Pedagogical issues The reforms also constitute for teacher educators t heoretical and pedagogical dilemmas based on the incongruent principles of reform and t heir explicit emphasis on student-centered approaches to teaching and learnin g on the one hand, and the sustained emphasis on standards and outcomes assessment on th e other. The problem becomes professionally challenging when dealing with an ove rt clash of philosophical ideals—standards-based accountability and liberal-h umanist values and the translation of these into programmes of instruction that meet t he contextualised needs of schools and general education (Helsby, 1999). The "impositi on" of standardsbased accountability locks teachers into a mode of operat ing in schools, no matter what efforts are made to reform or shape it (Apple, 2001). In co lloquial terms, teacher educators in Hong Kong are metaphorically, caught between a rock and a hard place. The reforms charge teacher educators with the responsibility of creating "pillars of society" who are both "generalists and specialists" who will have hi gh standards of academic knowledge


10 of 28and language skills, and who (as beginning teachers ) are entering a school system in a time of rapid reform.Politics, Reform and Paradox In Hong Kong an undercurrent of concern exists rela ting to the politicization of the reforms and specifically their direct effect on tea cher education. If anyone was to question the importance placed on the teacher educa tion in respect to the latest reforms, then they need look no further than to the level an d tone of language used to describe their role. Higher education is seen to be "the key and has "the duty" to be the gatekeepers of among other things student language proficiency attainment. The reform documentation describes the move toward exit standa rds of language proficiency. Such language and initiatives firmly position the curren t reforms alongside similar global trends aimed at national standards for teachers e.g ., in the United States and in Australia. But in these countries such movements are based lar gely on economic trends and questionable motives and place extreme pressure on providers of teacher education. Whatever the political motive, the reforms and in p articular the emphasis on outcomes-based performance assessment and the assoc iated high stakes tests for graduating language teachers in Hong Kong has alrea dy exerted a considerable influence, albeit not always positive, on teachers and teacher education students, and higher education teaching, curriculum and teacher e ducation agendas. Currently in Hong Kong the majority of newly traine d primary teachers are provided by the HKIEd. Two major universities compete with the HKIEd for this substantive market. However, an inequity exists between the universitie s and the HKIEd, which is compounded by the paradoxical relationship between reforms, teacher education and schools. Specifically, issues arise concerning the role and status of the HKIEd and its ability to prepare teachers for the contextual real ity of Hong Kong schools, to "compete" for student numbers and the necessity for it to dem onstrate programme conformity to government reform directives. These issues, as summ arized in Bodycott, (in press) include:The status afforded HKIEd where in an elitist educa tional context is yet to be awarded "university" status, which affects the level of cli entele attracted to programmes of teacher education at HKIEd compared to other "unive rsity" education faculty programmes. HKIEd and teaching tends to attract stu dents who are generally of lower academic standard than those entering for study at "universities." Therefore the impact of the unstated competencies and "university standa rds" expected of all graduating HKIEd students is far greater given their entry lev el. Secondly, the requirement of the HKIEd to have full details of all programme content and management validated for rigor and general qual ity by external parties including international subject and curriculum experts and lo cal academics from "university" faculties. These validations require the HKIEd to d efend all aspects of design and management and in particular how the programme refl ects government reform initiatives. No other teacher education faculty in Hong Kong is required to divulge such programme detail or justify relevance and relations hip of specific teaching philosophy and subject content to government reform directions Thirdly the perceived need of government and the co mmunity to criticize education in


11 of 28general and the HKIEd specifically for failing to d eliver students and beginning teachers who are academically, socially, spiritually and mor ally fulfilling of their, at times, unrealistic expectations.Lastly the reforms create inequities in the provisi on of teacher education. University faculties of education via their status exercise li berties in respect to programme design and the degree in which government reform initiativ es are addressed, whereas HKIEd programmes by virtue of it's "non-university status must conform to government reforms. The paradox here is that schools criticize the graduates and their programmes of instruction for not being compliant with the cur rent pre-reform specific needs of schools.Transforming Teacher EducationCurrent reform requirements and expectations impose d on higher education in Hong Kong presents teacher educators and their students with what many find almost insurmountable challenges. Firstly, to meet the con textualised demands of reform teacher educators must themselves be capable of per sonally and professionally dealing with change and with the inherent ideological and p edagogical incongruence associated with reform. Secondly, assuming teacher educators c an personally cope with such challenges they then must have or develop the profe ssional ability to transpose their understandings into programmes of instruction that can in some way challenge the existing beliefs, attitudes, values and practices o f students. To meet such personal and professional challenges it is proposed that there m ust be a significant change in the nature of teacher education. At present, missing fr om the reform agendas in Hong Kong and elsewhere is a view of teacher education that e ncompasses a "change agentry" (Fullan 1993). That is, time must be given within t eacher education programmes to overtly prepare teachers and teacher educators to b e effective agents of change. Preparing teachers to be agents of change is decide dly not the focus of current teacher education in Hong Kong, nor importantly is it neces sarily desired by future employers. Principals, despite educational reform initiatives, do not necessarily want new teachers to enter their schools questioning existing practic es, or reflecting and acting responsively to the culturally relevant academic needs of differ entiated learners and by doing so upsetting the status quo. Frequent criticisms by Ho ng Kong principals of beginning teachers, and especially those from the HKIEd, is t hat they are under-prepared, unprofessional and lack classroom management school s (criticism based on the noiselevels generated in classrooms), and lack the subje ctknowledge to adequately prepare students for high stake tests.The contextual reality is that generally Hong Kong principals do not want teachers to question whose interests are being served and met b y school policy, or by the curriculum and its reliance on textbook teaching and test prep aration. Nor do they want beginning teachers who may question the failure of the school to adhere to principles such as whole person, no loser, broad-based knowledge and learner -centered approach to education, as presented in the current education reform documents Such knowledge of schools and the contextual challenges of teaching in Hong Kong are bound to have far reaching effects on the long term transformation of curricul um or practice and the design and effectiveness of any teacher education programme.


12 of 28Placing Context to the Fore in Teacher EducationTo have face validity, teacher education programmes must be contextually authentic. That is, students must be required to undertake a p rogramme of study and teaching experiences that relate directly and authentically to the context of schools and the classroom. Such a belief is grounded in experience and the literature (for example see Lynch, 2000) which advocates the when students are taught in active, engaging environments, and are allowed to put the knowledge in to practice by demonstrating its application in some way, then they will come to und erstand more, retain more, and apply their knowledge more in various learning contexts. Such instruction Howey (1998) labels as "contextual teaching and learning (CT&L)" which is defined as: Contextual teaching …enables learning in which stud ents employ their academic understandings and abilities in a variety of inand out-of-school contexts to solve simulated or real-world problems, both alone and with others. Activities in which teachers use contextual teaching strategies help students make connections with their roles and resp onsibilities as family members, citizens, students, and workers. Learning through and in these kinds of activities is commonly characterized as pr oblem based, self-regulated, occurring in a variety of contexts including the community and work sites, involving teams or learning groups, and responsive to a host of diverse learners needs and interests. Further co ntextual teaching and learning emphasize higher-level thinking, knowledge transfer, and the collection, analysis, and synthesis of information from multiple sources and viewpoints. CT&L includes authentic assessment, whi ch is derived from multiple sources, ongoing, and blended with instruc tion. (pp. 19-20) A contextually authentic teacher education programm e would consist of the following features: The standards for excellence in teacher education w ould be clearly articulated and addressed specifically to students throughout their programme. Emphasis would be placed on developing the individu al skills and qualities of students through an acknowledgement that reform or change is a highly personal process with no guaranteed outcome. Grounded in a personal-social-constructivist view o f knowledge and skill formation, reform initiatives are channeled through contextualised tasks and activities designed to facilitate challenge to each individual students personal and professional constructs of teaching and learning. T hrough such a process, knowledge (theory), values and practices are analyz ed and critiqued for what they actually mean for the student personally and in res pect to the contextualised realities of classroom instruction, teaching and le arning and other aspects of teachers work—policy formation, curriculum developm ent, assessment and reporting. Therefore the development of reflection would be mo re than a rhetorical component in the programme design. A focus on assisting students to develop an underst anding of the synergistic nature of theories in practice, of professional partnershi ps with fellow stakeholders in the education endeavor, of reflexive thought and action and the often incongruence of


13 of 28educational vision and contextual reality.All teachers would be expected to operate as reflec tive practitioners and thereby work collaboratively in learning communities and de monstrate that their teaching leads to increased student achievement (Cochran-Smi th, 2001). Students would ultimately be expected to present th emselves publicly, to justify the decisions they make in respect to teaching and learning to various stakeholders in the education process. These stakeholders includ e parents, teacher colleagues, the principalship, school benefactors and the child ren themselves;. Authentic assessments are implemented that require students to actually perform certain learning tasks, thereby demonstrating their skill and understandings and an ability to apply what they have learned (McTighe, 1 997). Such assessments require students to perform the assessment in a man ner in which stakeholders wish them to perform in the classroom. In so doing, stud ents are required to focus on higher levels of cognitive complexity (Gipps, 1995) Success would be determined through an evaluation o f how well the programme content, assessment tasks and associated experience s reflect the real-world of the classroom. Contextual authenticity in programme design and del ivery would provide students with the best possible teacher preparation and the educa tion community with teachers who are well-versed and skilled in the needs of the profess ion and the schools and children in the community and culture in which they are to serve. I n a contextually authentic programme, students are placed in situations that r equire the application of knowledge and skills together with guided reflection and cons tructive feedback, as opposed to more traditional teacher preparation programmes that pla ce greater emphasis on the recognition of subject content and reproduction of correct answers. The roots of contextually authentic teacher educati on are grounded in theoretical principles of humanism and constructivism, which en sures students are "in touch with their own landscape" (Greene, 1978, p. 39). Context ually authentic teacher education embraces other theories and terms used by learning theorists—such as experiential learning, real-world learning, active learning, lea rner-centered instruction, and action learning—all of which are frequently quoted in refo rm documents if not observed in classroom practices.The extent to which such principles influence the d esign of teacher education programmes will vary according to culture and educa tion context. For example, if the agreed focus of education is mastery of techniques or demonstration of specific competencies, then teacher education programmes wil l need to be designed to transmit the required knowledge and in so doing prepare thei r prospective teachers in accordance. Similarly, if the focus or aim of education is for teachers to be more critical, reflective thinkers and practitioners—as in the current Hong K ong educational reforms—then prospective teachers must have opportunities to lea rn how to explore the world of teaching and education from a reflectively critical perspective. In so doing, they would be required to find their place within such a lands cape before expecting their students to do so.To be contextually relevant, teacher education must prepare prospective teachers to negotiate the blurred and somewhat contradictory re alities of curriculum policy and school-based practices. Students must be prepared t o prove themselves competent in their first time teaching positions while at the sa me time be prepared to challenge some


14 of 28of the assumptions and actions that other teachers and principals take for granted. It is believed that contextually authentic teacher educat ion programmes would influence the students and schools affectively. When students and the school community perceive programmes as having personal and real-world "conte xtual" relevance they are more likely to feel positive about the programme and thu s put more effort into it, and consequently principals would be more willing to em ploy teachers who graduate from it. Unfortunately the most recent reforms in Hong Kong like many before them, may well be ignored, or even lost if apparent ideological co ntradictions are not addressed. Simply, beginning teachers confused by the competing ideolo gical expectations and rewarded by outcomes-based incentives in their schools may simp ly choose to maintain the status quo and teach the way they have always taught (Bodycott in press). While it is relatively easy for governments to formulate and initiate refo rm policies, the true test of their applicability comes at the implementation level (Wa lker, in press). The contradictory nature of the current educational reforms in Hong K ong place higher education in general and teacher educators in particular in an i nvidious situation. For in an era of high contextual expectation they are charged with prepar ing new and in-service teachers for schools, where curriculum and instructional visions are not aligned with cultural and contextual expectations regarding teaching, assessm ent and accountability. With government unlikely to change their educational ref orm focus, despite the irregularities, the answer for Hong Kong at least, lies in part wit h the development of a more contextualised approach to teacher education.English language teacher standards Standards of education in Hong Kong have been a cau se of concern since education's early days (Bickley, 1997). It was really in the la te 1980s, however, that the language standards of teachers in Hong Kong, particularly te achers of English, became an issue of general concern. The business community (Au, 1998; see also Choi, 1998), in particular, felt that English language standards were dropping among the workforce. This was worrying because higher standards were required as commerce moved from a predominantly light-manufacturing base to a service -led economy, one that dealt with the world on a regular daily basis through the medi um of English. (It should be noted that the establishment of teacher language benchmar ks has not been not the only measure to improve standards of teaching and learni ng: there have been a number of commendable initiatives designed to improve the cur riculum and examination systems in Hong Kong—Falvey and Coniam, 2000).Mindful of concerns about standards, the Hong Kong Education Commission (1), in December 1995, published Education Commission Repor t Number 6 (ECR6). The Education Commission highlighted a number of areas for action in this report, one of which concerned teacher competencies, in particular the upgrading pf teacher language standards. The establishment of language "benchmark s" (i.e., minimum standards of ability in language) was recommended for all teache rs in Hong Kong (there are approximately 42,000 primary and secondary school t eachers, of which approximately 12,500 are English language teachers) on two fronts The first concerned language teachers, that is, teachers of English, Chinese and Putonghua. The second concerned teachers who teach content subjects (history, geogr aphy, biology, mathematics etc.) through the mediums of either English or Chinese (s ee Falvey and Coniam, 1997).


15 of 28As a follow-up to the recommendations in ECR6, an i nvestigative consultancy study (Coniam and Falvey, 1996) was commissioned in early 1996 to investigate the feasibility of establishing language benchmarks, initially for lower secondary (i.e., Grades 7-9) teachers of English (2). Following on from the cons ultancy report, steps were then taken to develop the recommendations of the consultancy r eport into government policy. The first, and most important step in developing policy involved the creation, in late 1997, of a widely representative English Language Benchma rk Subject Committee (ELBSC). The ELBSC was composed of the main stakeholders inv olved in English language education in Hong Kong—language teacher educators, members of the Hong Kong Education Department, the Hong Kong Examinations Au thority, school principals, department heads, practising teachers and members f rom ACTEQ itself. The body, which was excluded from the ELBSC, was the Teachers Unions—a move that had repercussions later when the benchmark policy was f ormalized and publicized.ProcessThe ELBSC worked together or in sub-committees over the period 1997-2000 agreeing on assessment constructs, establishing specificatio ns, designing exemplar tasks, creating scales and descriptors for criterion-referenced tas k assessment and monitoring the piloting and moderation of the assessment instrumen ts. The work of the ELBSC culminated in the recommendation of a benchmark exa mination consisting of battery of "formal" tests (i.e., Reading, Writing, Listening a nd Speaking), as well as a performance test of Classroom Language, where teachers would be assessed teaching two of their own classes in their own school.Following the work of the ELBSC, the HKSAR Governme nt publicized the introduction of language benchmarks in mid-2000. The policy docu ment stated that pre-service teachers would, from September 2001, have to be ben chmarked before joining the teaching profession. In-service teachers, i.e., est ablished serving teachers, would have until 2005 to meet the prescribed benchmarks. It is important to note, however, that the Government's drive to set a minimum standard of lan guage proficiency did not reside solely in a test of teachers' language ability. In addition to the administration of the benchmark assessment, substantial financial resourc es were allocated so that every teacher of English could enroll on a language enhan cement programme of up to a maximum of 200 hours (3).It is worthwhile briefly examining the benchmark pe rformance test—the Classroom Language Assessment (CLA) test, due to its innovati ve nature, the demands it places upon teachers and their expectations of the test. T he CLA was discussed at length in the ELBSC because it would be a performance-based test that would take place in a live taught class. As Sanaoui (1999) notes, the essence of attempting to define what is fair, yet what also needs to be assessed in a performance test such as the CLA, lies in the form and manner of the assessment being determined "by consensus" across a group of informed stakeholders. The composition of the ELBSC with teachers, principals, ED members and tertiary institution lecturers was an a ttempt to reach an "informed consensus." While the ELBSC was very much in agreem ent with the philosophy behind using an authentic test, logistic concerns were exp ressed at the administration of a live CLA. Although English language teachers are used to paper-and-pencil tests (preparing their students for such tests in public examination s), and formal tests are an accepted


16 of 28part of school culture, a live classroom test would be much more threatening. On this basis, such a test had to be carefully handled: the constructs assessed had to be broad in terms of the language skills assessed, i.e., not bi ased against any particular group—primary versus secondary, for example. Suppor t for the retention of CLA was made in a 1999 Colloquium on English Language Bench marks held in Hong Kong, where Nevo, a visiting scholar in assessment and ev aluation from Israel, stated unequivocally that the inclusion of the CLA in lang uage benchmarking should be retained in spite of inevitable arguments that it w ould be costly and time-consuming. His assertion rested on the proposition that CLA is at the heart of the teacher language performance being assessed (for a discussion of the CLA test, see Coniam and Falvey, 1999).In March 2001, the first, live benchmark test for E nglish language teachers was administered. When the results were released in Jun e 2001, there was an outcry in the local media because of the apparently low pass rate s: the headline of the South China Morning Post of June 9, 2001 stated Teachers flunk English test The lowest pass rate was for the Writing Test, which 33.3% of test taker s had passed.Critique : Principles and problemsA brief examination of the benchmark initiative fro m the perspective of its positive and negative aspects follows.On the positive side it should be noted that the be nchmark initiative is a step forward in the area of teacher professionalism. The setting of language standards is a prerequisite for able language teaching. While it is understood that good language skills themselves cannot be necessarily be equated directly with "goo d" teaching, if communicative language teaching—whereby ESL teachers use a consid erable amount of the target language to interact with their students—then a hig h degree of competence in the second language is essential.In order that greater professionalism is viewed fro m a perspective of encouragement rather than simply as a stick waved by government, without resources being available, the move becomes one, which is even more, resented. The benchmark initiative has not of course been welcomed by all teachers—some, the l ess able it is often suggested feel threatened by the initiative. Nonetheless, the fact that the government has allocated financial resources (a total of US$30) for, in prin ciple, every single teacher in the SAR is an indication of the importance the government atta ches to the initiative in terms of the professional upgrading of teachers.The test specifications, although initiated by Gove rnment were set by the consensus of a large and generally representative committee, with the omission, as mentioned above, of the teachers' unions.On the negative side, as might be expected with a l argescale government initiative, the time frame has been, to say the least, unrealistic. From the initial moves with the 1996 consultancy study, the first administration of the first examination took place in 2001. This five-year leadin contrasts with major syllab us revision in the case of public examinations, where in Hong Kong at least, a 7-year lead-in is the norm. The insufficient time frame has also meant that all test types have not been trailed as


17 of 28extensively as they might have been—resulting in ou tcry from teachers and teachers' unions after the first administration in 2001. The exclusion of the largest teachers' union, the Professional Teachers' Union (PTU), resulted in initial work being completed without major agreement. That said, the hurdles wer e then even more difficult to surmount because of the earlier exclusion of the PT U. Sanaoui (1999) notes that for acceptance of an initiative to be embraced, the inv estigating body must comprise all stakeholders. The fact that pass rates were low in the first live administration of the test may in part be ascribed to the lack of readiness fo r the test among test takers. In order to pass the benchmark test, however, the ELBSC recomme nded that a pass must be achieved on every subtest. While this, in essence, was a laudable recommendation, in that it was intended to help "raise standards," the initial low pass rates which were very poorly received by the media did not raise much pub lic sympathy for teachers. Further, it is argued that such a stipulation (i.e., having to pass every subtest) does in fact require a "minimum acceptable standard"—the original purpose of the benchmark initiative—but demands a higher than "minimum" standard (see Conia m and Falvey 2001 for a discussion).Further, goalposts changed as the initiative develo ped: at first it was decided there would be no exemptions from the test. The publication and public promulgation of the test specifications in mid 2000 resulted in a lot of opp osition. In an attempt to pacify the some of this opposition, an investigative panel was set up, which did then recommend exemptions.A final point concerns the syllabus specifications not transparent enough—with performance tests such as CLA, print examples are n ot sufficiently transparent or informative. The same principles of accessibility c an be found in the syllabus document produced for the English language benchmark assessm ent initiative. In a print document—such as that produced for the English lang uage benchmark—specifying the exact demands of a performance test such as the CLA component is not easily accomplished. The Hong Kong Examinations Authority and Education Department have gone to great lengths to produce a detailed syllabu s document. The document contains the scales and descriptors against which test taker s will be assessed and contains as many exemplars of the Reading Test, Listening Test and Writing Test as was possible to put together in the limited time frame prior to pub lication of the benchmark tests. See Coniam (2002) for a discussion of the problems asso ciated with a print syllabus attempting to specify the demands and requirements of an oral performance test. And an attempt to render the CLA test more accessible thou gh a multimedia implementation.Inclusion for Students with Learning DifficultiesIntroduction Current educational reform in Hong Kong includes a consideration of dealing with diversity in the classroom, and there has been a pa rallel growth in awareness for equity in the classroom. Ironically, there have been polic ies aimed at integration in place for about thirty years yet the potential for successful implementation of inclusion through good contextualisation is only just being realized. The thirty-year history of inclusion of disabled students into regular shows a slow beginni ng, with acceleration of this process occurring only very recently. Preparing regular tea chers to deal with inclusion has been and continues to be a challenge. Preparing special education teachers for co-teaching and


18 of 28supportive roles in regular education settings is e qually challenging. There have been numbers of more recent official recommendations, fo r example, the principles and policy objectives stated in the White Paper on Reha bilitation (HK Government, 1995), and the deliberations of the Board of Education Sub committee on Special Education (1996), that encourage inclusion. However there are difficulties faced by regular teachers as they struggle with the concept of integration an d they mostly arise through a lack of understanding of students with learning difficultie s and a lack of strategies necessary to support these students in the regular class setting Patterning the integration of other countriesHistorically, many countries tried to integrate dis abled students into regular schools by placing them in special classes within the schools, and this has been attempted in Hong Kong. In most of these countries this move was foll owed relatively quickly by the integration of individual disabled students into re gular classes. This was often followed by a backlash from regular teachers who felt unsupp orted and unable to help such students. In Hong Kong integration is taking place at a more measured and slower place. There are now more than sixty schools undertaking i ntegration. Other policy reforms, for example school-based management, are introduced by way of a decree and a timeline. In fact up scaling of integration by small incremental steps is slowly taking place, and this tardiness may be a result of tensions between the E ducation Department and the powerful sponsoring bodies that manage and control schools in Hong Kong. Given the centralized and economically powerful position held by the Education Department of Hong Kong, it is a little surprising that reform is so slow. The context of simultaneous reforms and unity of pu rpose In attempting to implement inclusion, the context o f reform in Hong Kong presents a difficulty in itself. Educational reform in Hong Ko ng has involved the rapid introduction of various policies, with an expectation that schoo ls, through school-based management will have independence, in deciding for themselves, the priority of introduction. In that setting, inclusion may be given very low priority a nd its implementation could be delayed almost indefinitely. Additionally, the cont extualisation of inclusion needs to have a unity of purpose. Recent experience in the o bservation of the integration process and as shown in the idealized model below, indicate that all elements, from the school's values through to parent involvement must be addres sed. The authority charged with funding and policy implementation may not even demo nstrate such unity. For example, within that authority, while one section is respons ible for the implementation of the stated policy on integration in regular classrooms, and is making an effort to promote it, another section responsible for resources might be busily enforcing rulings on the requirement for a special education unit or class i n each new school. Further need for contextualisation is evidenced by the unwillingness of schools to include students with learning difficulties. As previously discussed, ear ly recommendations for integration in Hong Kong really came from overseas precedents, and it is suggested that far more attention to local needs and significant elements w ould have made the implementation of integration easier and quicker.School cultural context and inclusion


19 of 28Policy implementation or reform in Hong Kong often seems to experience cultural difficulties. Policies are drawn up, and publicized ; yet schools are in general reluctant to take them up. Within the school, there are number o f further potential cultural contextual barriers that should have been addressed. Classroom teachers without illumination may fear or resent students who are disabled or differe nt. They may feel that they have enough "problems" to deal with, without the inclusi on of "handicapped" students. Special schools may find it difficult to decentrali ze and integrate their services into regular schools. Inclusion has an uphill battle in the Hong Kong cultural setting, and in the school culture.A pilot integration scheme involving more than sixt y schools in which regular schools took in a small number of "integrators" with the in centive of receiving a bounty fund for each "integrator" is just beginning to show that sc hools may be becoming more accepting. In the scheme, This is evidence of a def inite move to a more consistent approach, but it is still far from the concept of i nclusion. While policy and context may be identified as key considerations in bringing abo ut change, one very important factor is leadership. With effective leadership, aimed at the grass roots level of the school, school staff can become participatory teams. All staff can feel that they are part of the decision making in the school, and this is much more likely to lead to effective and appropriate change. Under such circumstances, there will be con sensus on the schools aims and objectives, and this is most likely to come about w hen the school leaders and participants have a shared vision—This will give st rength through unification of purpose. This is essential when it involves decisio ns that move a school towards a philosophy of inclusion.In the Hong Kong context, there is increasing aware ness by educators for the need for this type of educational reform. Current reform has targeted the need for dealing with diverse learners, parental involvement, student foc us, a "no-loser" principle and a move away from syllabi that target examinations. (Educat ion Commission, 1999). These types of reform initiatives can only benefit students who are included into regular schools. However, the ability of leaders and educators to im plement and support reforms remains as a further barrier to their full adoption and uti lization. This resistance to change suggests that leaders and educators need two things On the one hand they need to want to change, and on the other hand they need to feel that they have the skills to bring about change. Attitudinal change is one of the most diffi cult areas of human adaptation. Although schools do contain Resource Classes for "l ow achievers", these are carefully categorized and separated so as to preserve the sta tus of the remainder of the school. Interestingly, since 2000, the Education Department has allowed resource teachers to work on a "non-withdrawal" in-class basis. Leaving the decision to schools though does not appear to have led to any marked change from th e traditional Resource Class pattern. Enskilling people for change is a little easier. Sk ills to bring about change can be built up by for example, by training leaders in how to co nduct workshops that target problem-solving, motivation techniques and support strategies. These can later be contextualised into programmes of staff development that will develop and harness those skills that enable staff to make decisions, t o work collaboratively and to work in teams productively.It seems that schools are never quite "ready" for i nclusion, or have not thought about how to introduce inclusion into the current context However, the reality is that if it were


20 of 28 necessary to wait until everything was ready before beginning inclusion, it would never happen. In an idealized model there are needs in th e environment that can be attended to that greatly facilitate the inclusion process, and the more of these that are addressed the more chance there will be of a smooth contextualisa tion of inclusion. The needs and facilitation elements in an idealized model are sho wn and discussed below. (Dowson, 2001).Table 1 Facilitating Inclusion in Hong Kong SchoolsNeedSpecific Facilitation Element General Facilitative ElementsInclusive school values and direction Leadership Good policy implementation and continuing support Inclusion into society Publicity Community consultation Acceptance by peers, teachers, and principals Whole school approach School introspection Full classroom support Full funding Good site-based strategic planning Competent and confidentteachers Teacher education &support Prioritization, task identification andimplementation of ideas Planned initiation Careful preparation Close liaison between policy-makers and implementers Acceptance by parents of regular students Contact andcommunication Conversion of special educationinstitutions to resource centers Early age inclusion School consultation Shifts in centralized funding Parallel curricula Administrationacceptance Supportive legislation Included child preparation Parent guidance Curriculum liberalizationIn this facilitation model, inclusion reform entail s consideration of a number of factors, all of which are important if optimal, and acceptab le inclusion is to be attained. These factors include: Inclusion into society needs to be achieved through changing public attitudes toward the disabled. High quality and persistent pu blicity is one way this might be achieved. Acceptance by peers, teachers and principals requir es the support of the "whole school approach." Acceptance by parents of regular students is particularly important and can be achieved by schools that, perh aps through School Management Initiatives, choose to address the issue s and involve and inform parents in, for example, the move toward an inclusi ve school. The requirement in Hong Kong for the adoption by schools of School-Bas ed Management makes this


21 of 28more likely.The inclusion class environment, in which identifie d regular students with negative attitudes about disabled students have bee n helped to adjust, is also important. A "Whole School approach" would include this activity, however, such an approach in Hong Kong appears to have involved m uch rhetoric, but little actuality. In the classroom, support for included students req uires considerable funding, more than the bounty funding offered to schools in the Integrated School Pilot Scheme. This can be achieved by redirecting special education funding to disabled students who have been re-sited in regular schools. Another consideration is the regular classroom teacher. Teachers need to be conf ident about their ability to support the learning of disabled students. As previ ously discussed in relation to policy recommendations, this requires in-service an d pre-service teacher education. Recent teacher education programmes addr ess these issues, however programme participants are often disillusioned when they fail to find included students in regular classrooms. Yet to facilitate i nclusion, regular teachers need to be able to carry out planned initiations in the cla ssroom. Inclusion will generally not occur positively unles s teachers make an effort to engage the class in activities that foster it. For example in a situation where a heterogeneous group is working on a separate projec t in which each group member needs to contribute, there would be an inclu ded student. Classroom factors include the flexibility of the teacher in h elping the included child connect with the appropriate elements of the regular curric ulum. Another factor that is helpful to the inception of inclusion is early comm encement. The student who comes to school with peers from the pre-school is a lready an accepted member of the group. Reform implementation is about contextualisation an d facilitating change. As such, it should be characterized by resource-rich, incentive -driven, continuous support. Concomitantly at the individual school level, there is a need to develop good site-based strategic planning. Planning components include pri oritization, task identification, ideas for implementation and community consultation.Planning needs to be carried out in an atmosphere o f school introspection. This is an occasion when a school takes a good hard look at it s operation and comes up with a structured plan on how to implement reforms, includ ing insights into problems that might occur. Implementation of policies is more lik ely to happen when there is closer liaison between those writing policy reform and tho se who have to implement it. This means there is a strong obligation for policy write rs to lie out how reforms will be contextualised and implemented. In Hong Kong, there are examples of policies failing to "catch on" through a lack of contextualisation. The introduction of the less than radical Target Oriented Curriculum (TOC), eight years ago, has required research to find out how to conceptualize and facilitate its implementat ion, and this has led to it being implemented three times under a different name to g ain acceptance, as teachers were so put off by the style of its implementation and appa rent lack of local contextualisation. Integration of disabled children into ordinary scho ols was a policy recommendation in 1986. Nothing significant occurred until research i nto how to conceptualize and implement it began eleven years later, in 1997. (Cr awford et al, 1999). Policy reform in inclusion needs contextualisation through public ed ucation, and the conversion of


22 of 28categorical special schools, units and personnel to resource centers and people. Legislation and litigation about inclusion, such as that which occurred in America in the seventies, can facilitate reform. Such a "big stick approach would probably go against the Hong Kong current reform toward school-based ma nagement. However in Hong Kong, there is some "trickle-down" to the education system from recent law changes such as the Disability Discrimin ation Ordinance (1998). Although this mainly targets employers, there have been rece nt reports of parents claiming that being refused admission to regular schools has disc riminated against their disabled children. Equity has a long journey in Hong Kong. A nother incentive to change is a shift in funding. There is rarely more money available, b ut there is no reason why the cutting of the educational funding pie cannot be altered. S pecial education groups, especially those with a self-serving interest, may be reluctan t to share their resources through re-distribution.There are other ways of sharing resources. For exam ple, special schools by changing roles and devolving can place and support their stu dents in regular education settings— the context of inclusion. Finally calls for curricu lum reform may actually enhance reform in inclusion. The flexibility and tailoring in and of curriculum that is needed by included students may emerge, if the connection bet ween curriculum reform and inclusion is made.Contextualisation is an important factor for integr ation, and the growth toward eventual inclusion. Contextualising an issue within the loca l setting will make it more acceptable. One of the main objectives of education is to make quality of life better for all, and to achieve this the involved parties need to be able t o see how it will happen in their context. In the case of inclusion, it has taken a l ong time for the importance of contextual factors to be taken into account when im plementing change. In each of the schools which have begun to take in disabled studen ts, there are, and will continue to be, individual stories of best practices and barriers t hat arise. (Crawford et al, 1999). Those who implement integration or inclusion must tread a careful path between the introduction of ideas that might be seen as too rad ical and non-local, and those ideas that are in context, but do little to enhance quality of life for all students, particularly those coming from an inequitable setting.ConclusionIn Hong Kong, a number of recent steps toward educa tion reform have been taken through efforts to decentralize education, raise st andards, and increase accountability and professionalism. It has been argued that, for e xample, that developing the professionalism of principals must be contextualise d prior to and at the implementation stage if a professional development programme is to truly meet their needs and increase the quality of education. Early signs suggest that, encouragingly, this is beginning to take place. Similarly in higher education, unrealistic d emands and impractical expectations of the higher education curriculum, teacher educators and student teachers have failed to take into account the context and socialization env ironment in which education takes place—the schools. In addition there is a de-contex tualisation effect created by reforms that contradict one another, e.g., standardsbased assessment versus learner-centered teaching. Teachers entering schools for the first t ime need to be ready for the present, prepared for the future of reform and highly adapta ble to change through contextually


23 of 28authentic teacher education. There is an indication that this is beginning to occur. Another component of the movement toward quality ed ucation through reform has been the development of a Classroom Language Assessment test component for English language teachers. The test is contextualised in th e sense that it an authentic assessment of English teachers in the classroom. It was partly contextualised in that stakeholder groups were consulted about it (the exception being the largest teacher union body in Hong Kong). It was also contextualised in an antici patory manner by the government who put aside considerable funding, conjecturing th at many teachers would want to enroll in language enhancement programmes. However, with regard to the timeframe and evolutionary nature of the policy, there has be en less contextuality than might have been desirable, in that insufficient attention was given to test development, or to the amount of time that the total process of establishi ng the Classroom Language Assessment test would actually take in Hong Kong. W ithout good contextuality, the implementation of policy is liable to be delayed.In the case of inclusion, implementation has been s low to materialize because of a lack of contextualisation. The current education reforms in Hong Kong contain a number of elements, such as curriculum adaptation and whole s chool approach that support the implementation of inclusion. However, contextualisa tion for successful inclusion needs to operate at all levels and involves complex inter actions. There are however, indications of greater emphasis being placed on policy contextu alisation at the implementation stage. Implementation of policies is generally more likely to be successful where closer liaison exists between those responsible for develo ping policy reform and those responsible for implementing it. At all stages ther e is, therefore a strong obligation for policy writers to consider contextualisation and to state clearly how reforms and policies have been contextualised. In Hong Kong, policies of ten fail to "catch on" through a lack of contextualisation.In viewing contextualisation through the four areas of professional development of principals, teacher education, assessment of teache r classroom language assessment and inclusion, it is apparent that reform implementatio n has little chance of success unless significant contextualisation is undertaken by key players working closely together and make genuine attempts to communicate with each othe r during all stages of policy formation and implementation. There are indications that in some areas in Hong Kong that this is beginning taking place.ReferencesAu, A. (1998). Language standards and proficiency. In Asker, Barry. (Ed.) Teaching language and culture: Building Hong Kong on education pp. 179-183. Longman: Hong Kong. Apple, M.W. (2001). Markets, standards, teaching, and teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education 52(3), 182-195. Bickley, G. (1997). The golden needle: the biography of Frederick Stewart (1836-1889). David C. Lam Institute for East West Studies: Hong Kong. Bodycott, P. (in press). Blurred visions on a landscape of reform: teacher education in Hong Kong. Asia Pacific Journal of Education. Singapore. Board of Education. (1996). Report of the Sub-committee on Special Education. Hong Kong: Government Printer.


24 of 28Chan, S. (1999). The Chinese learner—A question of sty le. Education and Training, 41(6/7), 294-304. Cheng, Y.C. (2000). The characteristics of Hong Kong school principals' leadership: the influence of societal culture. Asia Pacific Journal of Education 20(2), 68-86. Cheung, M.B. (2000). The changing roles and needs of school principals in Hong Kong. In A. Walker, P. Begley & C. Dimmock (Eds.), School Leadership in Hong Kong: A Profile for a New Cen tury (pp. 61-62). Hong Kong: Hong Kong Centre for the De velopment of Educational Leadership Choi, Chee-cheong. (1998). Language standards: an HKE A perspective. In Asker, Barry. (Ed.), Teaching language and culture: Building Hong Kong on education (pp. 184-192). Longman: Hong Kong. Cochran-Smith, M. (2001). Editorial: Higher standard s for prospective teachers—what's missing from the discourse? Journal of Teacher Education 52(3), 179-181. Coniam, D. & Falvey, P. (1999). The English language benchmark initiative: A validation study of the Classroom Language Assessment component Asian Pacific Journal of Language in Education 2(2), 1-35. Coniam, D. and Falvey, P. (1996). Setting language benchmarks for English language teache rs in Hong Kong secondary schools Advisory Committee on Teacher Education and Qualif ications: Hong Kong. Coniam, D. (forthcoming 2002) Illustrating the deman ds of a performance test through an interactive multimedia syllabus. International Association for Language Learning Technolo gy Journal Coniam, D. & Falvey, P. (forthcoming 2001). Awardin g passes in the Language Proficiency Assessment of English Language Teachers: Different method s varying outcomes. Education Journal 29 (2). Crawford, N., Heung, V., Yip, E. & Yuen, C. (1999). Integration in Hong Kong: Where are we now and what do we need to do? Hong Kong Special Education Forum 2(2), 1-13 Disabilities Discrimination Ordinance. (1998). In Law of Hong Kong, Chapter 487. Hong Kong: Government Printer. Dowson, C. (2001). Paper presentation to Making Integ ration Successful Programme, HKIEd, February 2001. Education Commission (1992). Education commission report no. 5 Hong Kong: Government Printer. Education Commission. (1996). Education commission report No. 6 (ECR 6). Hong Kong: Government Printer. Education Commission. (1999). Education Blueprint for the 21st Century: Review of Aca demic System: Aims of Education: Consultation Document Hong Kong: Government Printer. Education Commission (2000). Learning for life, learning through life: reform proposals f or the education system in Hong Kong Hong Kong: Government Printer Education Department (2002, February). Continuing professional development for school excellenc e (consultation paper on continuing professional develop ment of principals). Hong Kong: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Re public of China Education Department. Falvey, P. & Coniam, D. (1997). Introducing English language benchmarks for Hong Kong teachers: a preliminary overview. Curriculum Forum 6(2), 16-35. Falvey, P. & Coniam, D. (2000). Language benchmarks for lower secondary teachers of English: Findings and emerging issues In Issues in English Language Benchmarking. Proceedin gs of the Colloquium on English language benchmarking, (pp. 915). Hong Kong Institute of Education:


25 of 28Hong Kong Institute of Education. Fullan, M. (1993). Change forces: probing the depths of educational reform London: Falmer. Gipps, C. (1995). What do we mean by equity in relat ion to assessment? Assessment in Education 2(3), 271-281. Greene, M. (1978). Landscapes of learning. New York: N.Y.: Teachers College Press. Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative R egion (HKSAR). (2000). Language benchmark assessment for teachers—English language: syllabus specificati ons, explanatory notes, specimen questions with suggested answers, scales and descriptors Hong Kong: Government Printer. Helsby, G. (1999). Changing teacher's work Buckingham, Pa: Open University Press. Hong Kong Government (1995). White paper on rehabil itation. Equal opportunities and full participation: A better tomorrow for all. Hong Kong : Government Printer Howey, K. R. (1998). Introduction to the commissioned papers. Information Series No. 376, (pp. 19-34). Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Education, Center on Education and Training for Employment, the Ohio Sta te University. Lin, M.D. (2001, March). Professional development for principals in Taiwan: the sta tus quo and future needs trends Paper presented at the International Conference on School Leaders Preparation, Licensure, Certification, Selection, Evaluation and Professional Development, Taipei, Taiwan. Lynch, R. (2000). New directions for high school career and technical educa tion in the 21st century Information series No. 384. Columbus, ERIC Clearinghou se on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, Center on Education and Training for Emp loyment, the Ohio State University. Muta, H. (2000). Deregulation and decentralization of education in Japan. Journal of Educational Administration, 38(5), 455-467. McTighe, J. (1997). What happens between assessments? Educational Leadership 54(4), 6-12. Sanaoui, R. (1999, February 2). Defining certification standards for ESL instructors in Onta rio Talk delivered to the Advisory Committee on Teacher Educa tion and Qualifications. Hong Kong. Walker, A. (in press). School leadership and managemen t in the Asia Pacific region. In J. Keeves and R. Watanabe (Eds.), The handbook on educational research in the Asia-Pacifi c region Kluwer Press: Netherlands. Walker, A., & Dimmock, C. (in press). Moving school le adership beyond its narrow boundaries: developing a cross-cultural approach. In K. Leithwood & P. Hallinger (Eds.), Second International Handbook of Educational Leadership and Administration Netherlands: Klewer. Walker, A., Begley, P. & Dimmock, C. (2000). School leadership in Hong Kong: A profile for a new century Hong Kong: Hong Kong Centre for the Development o f Educational Leadership.About the Authors Chris Dowson Senior Lecturer, Department of Educational Psycholo gy, Counseling and Learning Needs Hong 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


26 of 28 education. He teaches courses on classroom practice and effective methods. Peter Bodycott Principal 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 main publications and research inter ests are in the areas of preservice teacher thinking, second language learning and teac hing, language immersion and the role of narrative in leadership and teacher educati on. Allan Walker Professor, Department of Educational Administration and Policy The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong KongAllan Walker specializes in educational leadership and policy. His major research interests center on the influence of culture and co ntext on educational administration and leadership, principal assessment and strategic plan ning in schools. David Coniam Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction The 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 hodologyCopyright 2003 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 5287-2411. The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin David C. Berliner Arizona State University Greg Camilli Rutgers University Linda Darling-Hammond Stanford University Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Gustavo E. Fischman California State Univeristy–Los Angeles Richard Garlikov Birmingham, Alabama Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Aimee Howley Ohio University


27 of 28 Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Ontario Institute ofTechnology Patricia Fey Jarvis Seattle, Washington Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Les McLean University of Toronto Heinrich Mintrop University of California, Los Angeles Michele Moses Arizona State University Gary Orfield Harvard University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Jay Paredes Scribner University of Missouri Michael Scriven University of Auckland Lorrie A. Shepard University of Colorado, Boulder Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC Kevin Welner University of Colorado, Boulder Terrence G. Wiley Arizona State University John Willinsky University of British ColumbiaEPAA 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


28 of 28 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)American Institutes for Resesarch–Brazil(AIRBrasil) Jurjo Torres Santom (Spain)Universidad de A Carlos Alberto Torres (U.S.A.)University of California, Los

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