Several primary schools have refused an invitation from the Education Bureau to take part in an updated version of the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA). The bureau says the new tests can help schools and teachers improve their teaching based on information about students’ strengths and weaknesses.

Last year, many demanded the abolishment of the controversial test, saying that the assessments were beyond student capabilities and that they could not complete them without practice. They also caused high levels of stress.

Baptist Rainbow Primary School asked for the opinions of parents and decided they would not take part in the trial. Instead, they would hold events which promote experiential learning during the three days originally set aside for the TSAs.

The primary school is the third school to openly reject the invitation of the Education Bureau, according to Apple Daily.

Primary school students. File Photo: Apple Daily.

“This decision doesn’t mean that we think the TSA is meaningless – assessments are a very effective way to see how our school is doing, ” its principal Chu Tsz-wing told RTHK. He said that not taking the TSA is not a problem and the school will continue to use internal tests to evaluate student performance.

Other schools have signed up. Sheng Kung Hui Tin Shui Wai Ling Oi Primary School volunteered to take the TSA even though it was not invited. Its principal told RTHK that “schools should have their own ideas about education. If we don’t take responsibility and hand it over to the parents, then the role of the headmaster is gone.”

Chu Tsz-wing with students. Photo: Apple Daily.

The bureau invited 50 schools this year to take a revamped version of the TSA. The deadline was set for Monday, but has since been extended by the Education Bureau because many schools said that they could not hold board meetings to make a decision in time, according to Ming Pao.

The bureau told Apple Daily that as of Monday afternoon, there were almost forty schools that have accepted or volunteered for the TSA test for this year.

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Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.