Standards-referenced Reporting (SRR) FAQ
|Q1:||Is there any equivalence between the Standards-referenced Reporting (Levels 5*-1) and the previous (Grades A-F) system?|
Standards-referenced Reporting is a new reporting format. Candidates' levels of performance will be reported with reference to a set of standards. There is no direct equivalence between the levels and grades in the new and old reporting systems.
There is no fixed proportion of candidature for each level under Standards-referenced Reporting (SRR). Candidates’ results reported under SRR will reflect his/her knowledge and skills, and will not be affected due to the performance of other candidates taking the same examination. Under SRR, the prescribed standards for the levels are held constant from year to year, but the percentage of candidates awarded a given level may vary according to the actual performance of the candidates. This enables effective monitoring of the candidates' performance over different years.
There are five cut scores, which will be used to distinguish five levels of performance (5-1), with 5 being the highest. A performance below the threshold cut score for level 1 will be labeled as 'Unclassified'. Level 5 candidates with the best performance will be awarded Level 5*.
Level 5* will facilitate employers and tertiary institutions to select the best candidates based on their public examinations results. In the 2007 HKCEE, the subject experts and panels of judges determined that amongst candidates obtaining Level 5, over 2200 candidates obtained Level 5* in Chinese Language, representing 3% of the overall candidates. Amongst those obtaining Level 5 in English Language, one-fifth (approximately 1,200 candidates) achieved Level 5*, which is about 1.2 % of the whole candidature.
In the old system, candidates received Grades A to F, but these grades were unable to describe the candidates’ abilities. Under the new system, a set of written descriptors has been developed to explain the typical performance and abilities of candidates at each level.
Under SRR, results are reported with reference to standards which are held constant from year to year, and the percentage of candidates awarded a given level in each year varies according to the proportion of candidates meeting the defined standard. There are no fixed percentages – these can go up or down, but there are fixed standards. It is therefore possible to know how overall standards of candidates' performance are changing over time.
SRR has been adopted by all major examining bodies in recent years. This new system has been implemented in Hong Kong to align with the best professional practice and to provide assessment results which are reported with reference to standards that are recognized internationally, transparent, explicit, and remain constant over time.
|Q3:||How do we set and maintain the standards?|
The descriptors were developed in conjunction with overseas as well as local experts, and with close reference to samples of actual performances of candidates in previous examinations.
A panel of judges consisting of subject experts, experienced markers and teachers will determine the minimum scores (i.e. cut scores) a candidate must obtain to meet various standards based on current and previous levels of performance in these subjects and the published descriptors.
To maintain standards over time, secure monitoring tests will be administered every year to carefully select samples of students so that scores on successive examinations can be equated.
|Q4:||Will SRR be adopted in all HKCEE subjects?|
SRR will only be adopted for HKCEE Chinese Language and English Language for now. Standards-referenced Reporting will be fully implemented for all subjects in the 2012 HKDSE Examination.
In 2012, candidates of HKDSE will have completed six years of secondary education instead of five. To tie in with the HKDSE curriculum, a new set of level descriptors will be developed and adopted. To prepare for admission to universities, all subject results will be reported in the form of levels (1 to 5). Level 5 candidates with the best performance will be awarded Level 5**, and Level 5* to improve discrimination among the top candidates.
|Q5:||What is the level for a pass in the new system?|
The notion of pass /fail is not applicable to the new system. As the level descriptors provide information on the performance typically exhibited by candidates who achieve a certain level, users of the examination results, including tertiary institutions and employers, will be able to set their own language requirements according to their respective language proficiency requirements.
|Q6:||When was the adoption of SRR in the 2007 HKCEE decided? How does the HKEAA promote SRR to the public?|
A new curriculum was first adopted for Secondary One students in 2002, and these students were promoted to Form Four in 2005. Subsequently, a new examination syllabus was adopted for this cohort of students in the 2007 HKCEE.
In 2003, the Authority invited local and international subject experts to form working groups to set the standard for each level.
After studying the curriculum content, past examination statistics and candidates’ exam scripts, the Working Group set the levels of performance with reference to the performance of candidates and developed the level descriptors. After these written descriptors had been accepted by the CDC-HKEAA committees, the descriptors and relevant exemplar materials were made available to schools and the general public in mid 2005.
The Authority has organized a series of seminars, briefing sessions and activities to explain the details of SRR to schools, teachers, parents, students’ organizations, employers and relevant associations.
We understand that the public needs time to adapt to the new reporting system and will continue to provide updates on SRR through various channels.
|Q7:||Will employers find it difficult to adapt to the new reporting system of the SRR? Will this affect the employment opportunities of the candidates? Should employers adjust their recruitment criteria accordingly?|
The authority understands that the public needs time to adapt to the new reporting system. To help employers to understand more about SRR, the Authority has since 2005 organized various seminars, briefing sessions and activities to promote SRR. Letters, together with a sample of the Results Notice for reference, have been sent to the employers through employers’ associations to explain the details in 2007. A seminar was also organized on 20 August 2007 for employers and employers’ associations to give further details regarding SRR.
At the same time, the Authority has coordinated with the Labour Department to arrange a hyperlink on the Labour Department’s website giving details of SRR for employers and job seekers’ reference.
Employers may also adjust their recruitment criteria and make their selection based on their own language requirements by referring to the level descriptors.
|Q8:||Is SRR internationally recognized?|
The HKCE Chinese Language and English Language examinations have been benchmarked against the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) by Cambridge Assessment. Please refer to the pamphlet sent to schools in October 2006 for details. This pamphlet is also available on the HKEAA website: www.hkeaa.edu.hk.
The Authority has already introduced and promoted the SRR system to major overseas universities, e.g. Yale University in the USA, the University of Cambridge in the UK and the University of British Columbia in Canada. Our new reporting system is already recognized by these universities.
Since 2005, the Authority has communicated with over 300 overseas tertiary institutions to introduce the new reporting system. To secure international recognition of the SRR, the Authority will continue to approach overseas community colleges, Consulate-Generals, consultant agencies for overseas studies and relevant organizations.
Although a number of overseas institutions have recognized the new reporting system, some universities in countries such as the USA and Canada also require applicants to take additional examinations such as TOEFL, SAT or GRE before admission.
|Q9:||Were the questions easier or more difficult in the 2007 CE Chinese Language and English Language examinations?|
As with examinations held by other examination bodies across the world, there are examination questions that are perceived as “easy” or “difficult” each year. However, the level of difficulty of examination papers does not affect the results obtained.
Questions for all examination papers are set by experts in the subject, according to the requirements and learning objectives of the senior secondary curriculum. Further, an expert panel comprising scholars and experienced teachers is responsible for grading of the candidates. During grading, the expert panel sets the cut scores for each level with reference to the level descriptors, the level of difficulty of the examination questions of that year, and actual answers from the candidates. The Authority also used a psychometric method to map candidates' results onto an "ability scale" under SRR. For the new examinations, the Authority has divided the "capability scale" into 5 levels. If the examination paper was easy, candidates will have to achieve higher marks in order to obtain better "levels". On the other hand, if the examination paper was more difficult, candidates could still obtain higher "levels" even if they got lower marks. Candidates' results are therefore not affected by the different levels of difficulty in the examination papers.
The Authority also uses a scientific method for handling the issue of "easy" and "difficult" examination papers. In the development of examination papers, the questions are designed to cater for candidates of various abilities, and therefore individual examination papers will include questions of different levels of difficulties.
In response to the views that the Authority had relaxed the grading standards so that more candidates could qualify for admission to Secondary Six, the Authority clarifies that the minimum Level 2 requirement for admission to Secondary Six was set by users and not by the Authority. The Authority's duty is to set the standards for the five levels and award candidates the appropriate levels based on their actual performance.
|Q10:||Why did some candidates obtain different overall subject results from the component results of the same subject?|
Each paper focuses on different language skills and also accounts for different proportions of marks in the subject according to the weighting specified in the syllabus. Therefore, the overall level is not the average of all the component levels. The overall subject level is determined based on the total marks derived from the various papers, whereas the level for each component is based on the marks obtained in each component.
|Q11:||Why have Syllabus A and Syllabus B of English Language been combined?|
In previous years, candidates taking the English Language Syllabus A examination would be labeled as less capable. Candidates will no longer be labeled in this way under the new examination system. Moreover, candidates’ performance will no longer be limited to the standards of English Language Syllabus A. As a result, combining Syllabuses A and B under Standards-referenced Reporting will benefit all candidates. The new exam format was determined after 4 to 5 years of thorough consultation.
|Q12:||In what ways will School-based Assessment (SBA) of HKCEE Chinese Language/English Language be reported?|
For Chinese Language, the SBA scores will be incorporated into the component "Integrated Skills". For English language, the SBA scores will be incorporated into the component "Speaking". Please refer to the pamphlet sent to schools in October 2006, or visit our website www.hkeaa.edu.hk > HKCEE > Grade Descriptors & Standards-referenced Reporting (SRR).
|Q13:||Would candidates' results be different if their school had opted to include or not include the SBA in the subject total?|
Candidates with the same ability will be awarded the same level whether SBA marks are included or not.
|Q14:||What is the new language requirement for HKALE registration?|
Candidates must have achieved Level 2 or above in the Chinese Language and English Language, or have attained Grade E or above under the previous HKCEE reporting system.
|Q15:||What are the requirements for the language subjects for Secondary Six admission?|
Following consultation with the school sector, the Education Bureau has announced that, for the purpose of Secondary Six Admission, Levels 2 to 5* in Chinese Language and English Language will be converted to 1 to 5 points.
|Q16:||What will be the entry requirements of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, Project Yi Jin and Pre-associate degrees?|
Please visit the Education Bureau website www.edb.gov.hk > "Other Education and Training" for details.