The Analysis of the Hong Kong Education Policy "Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers of English"

By Yeung, Hastings Chim Ho | International Journal of Education, October 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

The Analysis of the Hong Kong Education Policy "Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers of English"


Yeung, Hastings Chim Ho, International Journal of Education


Abstract

The Education policy "Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers of English" had been controversial since its establishment in 2000, in the sense that various stakeholders including parents, students, school administrators, teachers and the general public. This essay critically analyses this education policy in the HK context by scrutinizing the prerequisite. Subsequently, how LPATE was built on policy texts and how it was construed as a solution of gradual decline of English as well as the reciprocal politics interacting with the policy were analyzed. Additionally, the institutions and actors involved in the policy process are discussed followed by the revelation of the outcomes of LPATE in both the expected and the unanticipated dimensions.

Keywords: Educational policy, LPATE, Bowe's policy triangle

1. Introduction

English, as an official language of Hong Kong (HK), has exerted congruent influence upon the development spectrum of HK. The spectrum ranges from political text production, policy practice, and professionalism to common workplace communication and daily conversation (Coniam & Falvey, 2001; DRAVE, 2010; Lin, 2007). Due to this prevalence and ubiquity, public concern was raised on the English proficiency of English teachers. Ineluctably, the government legitimized the required participation of all English teachers in the new official assessment, 'The Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers of English (LPATE)' since 2000 (Berry & McNeill, 2005). Adoption of the new policy has been unprecedentedly controversial because the failure to fulfill the assessment led to disqualification of teachers and consequently, vacancy of the teaching posts. Through the lens of this article, we can further our understanding of LPATE from its conception to implementation. The article likewise aims to shed light on the resistance from teachers and the process by which the education state, the government, twisted its policy direction to resolve the crisis. Most crucially, this article suggests how LPATE can be better enhanced towards fulfillment of its original purpose with less pressure on teachers in the Hong Kong context.

2. LPATE framework of analysis

We can apply the Hodgson and Spours (2007) notion of an analytical framework to dissect the deployment of LPATE, which comprises four major dimensions. With this framework, we can determine how the education policy and practices are wired together.

The rationale of employing Hodgson and Spours as the analytical framework is valid because their article was an attempt to reflect the controversial 14-19 educational reform. To certain extent, the reform resembles the LPATE policy in the sense that 14-19 educational reform and LPATE policy were constructed with various policy texts and appeared in the same decade. Additionally, the framework is rooted in the concept of the policy triangle interacting with historical, political, and state contexts (Bowe et al, 1992) in which both LPATE and 14-19 reform have similarities.

3. Expanding the toolbox for policy analysis

The third dimension of the analytical framework of Hodgson and Spours investigates the 'dynamic and messy' nature (Bowe et al, 1992) of the entire policy-making cycle. The cycle is mainly based on the policy triangle comprising three contexts that are attributed to the formulation and implementation of the education policy. A checklist from Vidovich (2007), originally based on Bowe's policy triangle, is applied to deepen understanding of this dimension and to investigate the LPATE policy process. In the process, the questions in the list are answered to demonstrate an in-depth comprehension of the policy process.

4. Limitations

Nonetheless, the combined framework has limitations because the expected results from these policies are entirely different. The 14-19 Education Reform, which involved two formal consultations with educational specialists, researchers, influential individuals, and leading figures to construct the proposal was eventually disposed by the government (Hodgson and Spours, 2007). …

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