Indicators mandate curriculum change? A reflection of External School Review (ESR) exercise in Hong Kong

Sze Yin Shirley YEUNG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Curriculum change in Hong Kong is often unsatisfactorily actualized. Yet reform in education and curriculum seems nonstop and inevitable for this international city in an era of globalization. Local policy-makers launched a comprehensive curriculum reform in 2001 (CDC, 2001). Regardless of the officials' keen effort to implement the said curriculum reform during these five years, studies still found that real change is implemented only to superficial extent (Yeung, 1994; 2005). In fact, most Hong Kong's classrooms could still be portrayed as displaying features that are characterized as the 'three Ts': teacher-centred, textbook-centered and test-centered (Adamson, Kwan & Chan, 2000). In recent years, the strategies untaken by the officials seem shifting between school-based initiatives and state-mandated attempts to promote forms of outcome-based education. External School Review(ESR) was initiated as a complementary measure for schools to self-evaluate its effectiveness and to 'ensure public accountability'(EMB, 2005). The officials believe that this forms in part a systematic and strong school development and accountability framework. However some informal, local critics are skeptical about the mechanism and frequently connect its notion to cutting of resources and closure of schools. Theoretically speaking, the concept of ESR relates to debates and discourses about standard and indicators, accountability in education, centralization and decentralization of curriculum decision-making, as well as teacher development. The present paper presentation wishes to critically analyze this current educational policy and inquire into the relation between ESR and the official intent to enforce and control curriculum change. Hopefully, questions like the following would also be addressed: how beneficial ESR has been in encouraging schools to develop and improve their curriculum and teaching? Has external inspection gone too far or not far enough? What are the pitfalls and perils of ESR with its underlying rationale, principles and mechanism? Finally, the paper also intends to highlight some recommendations, both practically and empirically, for consideration of policy-makers, officials and practitioners in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2006


Yeung-Yeung, S. Y. S. (2006, November). Indicators mandate curriculum change? A reflection of External School Review (ESR) exercise in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the Asia-Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA) International Conference 2006: Educational Research, Policy and Practice in an Era of Globalization, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


  • Educational Evaluation


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