Language proficiency assessment for teachers: The effects of benchmarking on writing assessment in Hong Kong schools

Philip Douglas Lane GLENWRIGHT

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article argues that the language proficiency assessment for teachers (LPAT), which the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) first operated for English teachers in 2001, is likely to exert a detrimental influence on the assessment of student writing by reinforcing traditional conceptions of language, grammar and pedagogy. It first addresses aspects of the broader Hong Kong educational context, seeking briefly to indicate a range of on-going concerns and alluding to a tendency for government to impose top-down reforms which tend to be adopted but not implemented. It then considers the government-perceived/induced linguistic and pedagogical limitations of teachers that provoked the imposition of the LPAT scheme. After evaluating the often hostile reaction to this initiative, the article examines past practice in writing assessment by discussing an objective small-scale research project involving pre-service student teachers of English midway through a 3-year non-degree Teacher’s Certificate course at one of the now defunct Colleges of Education in Hong Kong in 1991. This retrospective review makes evident the researcher’s alarm, both at the student-teachers’ frequent omission of a response to meaning and their inclination to mis-correct and/or over-correct form. Through the presentation and discussion of subjective self-report data obtained from a two-part survey of serving, experienced teachers of English in Hong Kong secondary schools attending a full-time 16-week credit-bearing professional upgrading course in 2001 at the recently established Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd), the article then seeks to examine present writing assessment procedures and to gauge the likely future impact of the government’s LPAT exercise on teacher attitudes towards and treatment of pupil writing. These data suggest that procedures have not changed substantially in the last decade and that the LPAT initiative is likely to strengthen an existing and pre-existing teacher preoccupation with correctness, to reinforce more traditional perceptions of language and grammar and, consequently, to restrain more innovative pedagogies. The article concludes that consultation with teachers and the adoption of positive incentives rather than punitive strategies might yield more productive results. Copyright © 2002 Elsevier Science.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-109
JournalAssessing Writing
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002

Citation

Glenwright, P. (2002). Language proficiency assessment for teachers: The effects of benchmarking on writing assessment in Hong Kong schools. Assessing Writing, 8(2), 84-109.

Keywords

  • Teacher language proficiency
  • Language policy
  • Writing assessment

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