Introduction of the Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers (LPAT)
Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority announced the result of Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers (LPAT). The overall result in English Language has continuous decreased. LPAT consist of five papers in reading, writing, listening, speaking and classroom assessment. Except for the listening paper result is increase 2% passing rate in last year, all others paper has decreased. The Language Proficiency Assessment published by the government of Hong Kong SAR since 2000, after 10 years implementation, the teacher's English language standard still cannot achieved by public expectation, nearly half of the candidates are failed in assessment in every year. Some teachers explain that the test make them feel humiliated dignity, because they still repeat the trial in many times.
The candidate failure in Hong Kong Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers (LPAT) in continuous few years, why are they failure in this test? Many candidates feels stress under the test, is it a real reason as behind of the failure?
Purpose of the study
The audience of this study is including policy-makers and candidates. The purpose of this study is discussing the reasons of the candidate's failure in LPAT. Some teachers said that the questions are too difficult for them and they don't have this kind of study when they were a student, they feel stress between the test and their job. I will discuss the stress how to affect their performance and analysis the difficult in the test.
Histories of the LPAT
Along with education reform, teachers are encouraged to strive for higher levels of language proficiency. According by the Education Bureau published in September of 2000, all new recruits teachers (include teaching in Primary and Secondary school teacher) in English level are required to pass the benchmark test (known as LPAT now), as is currently teaching in English teachers, they must be fulfill the standard before 2006 year, the teacher can be through the "training" or "examination" to achieve. Otherwise, they are not allowed to teaching the related language subject.
Teachers were taken in the streets to protest the policy announced in 2001 when government introduced the LPAT to testify the English teachers are really qualify to do that job. Some teacher's association to be against the assessment as at today, they believed LPAT will increase the pressure on teachers to affect their teaching.
Relative teacher and stress Theory
Many of teachers said that they feel stress in the LPAT test, some of these even quit their job as an English teacher, LPAT is the main reason for them to leave their industry, especially for someone has taken the LPAT test in a few times, they are no confidence in a teaching field. The following theories may help to explain the reason for the failure is associated with stress. The cognitive appraisal theory helps explain why teacher feels stress. He illustrated that stress may be come from the event itself, the person's age, culture and experience (Lazarus, 2001). Social support theory explains stress occurring when there is not enough social support available to respond to the event effectively. The teachers didn't get support from government which made them feel stress (Greenberg, 2009). "Coping Triangle" help teacher acknowledge their feelings and to help them explore alternative ways of thinking and behaving, raising their awareness and understanding about what is happening is the key point (Hayes, 2006). What is stress? Stress is an unsettling reaction to external and internal factors. Your reactions to environmental stimuli may be positive or negative, supportive or destructive (Pargman, 2006). The success or failure of school and students' academic performance depends on the teachers who consider themselves student advocates and leaders of change and who value the boundaries that a constructivist learning and culturally responsive teaching environment provides (Gay,2000). Over the past several years, a new consensus has emerged that teacher quality is one of the most, if not the most, significant factor in students' achievement and educational improvement...most educators have believed for years: teachers' work is important in students' achievement and in their life chances (Cochran-Smith, 2004). Which results in depleted energy resources, lowered resistance to illness, increased dissatisfaction and pessimism, increased absenteeism and inefficiency at work (Carlyle 2002). Despite mush psychological work in the area of teacher stress, we lack detailed testimony from teachers on how they experience and feel about work and how it has changed, and exactly how their work is now stress producing (Troman 2001). The issue of lack of resources is a difficult one to address as it is dependent upon mant other factors (i.e government budget) (Travers & Cooper 2006). Teacher educators in this study agreed on the value of key issues and strategies involved in delivering Education-to-Careers, but at the same time, exhibited a reluctance to change by indicating a failure to implement them (Tarr 2002).
Methodology using in study
As I mention before, LPAT is included five papers. I just focus on writing part in this study because most of candidates are failed in this paper in the past ten years. In writing part, it also divided into 2 section, first part is detection and correction of errors/problems, but we will focus on the second part is explanation of errors/problem, because most of the candidates feels confuse in this part. They can't make accuracy answer in this section.
I am going to find out the problem of the candidate when they are facing in writing paper. I will adopt 2 methods to collect the data and try to analysis the various possible reasons.
Method 1: Interview
Interview is one of the methods to reflect the actual situation in LPAT, interview to different role can be reflecting their opinions on LPAT test.
a) The man of the street
Respondents: Including student, business man, foreigner and who can speak English. Our interview should be including different segmentation of the people to make the result is more precise and objective. Different role can be reflecting different opinions of the LPAT, we need to consider on the role when doing an interview.
Location: In Central, Sheung Wan or Wanchai. We need to choose an appropriate place to conduct the interview make it precise. These three places are including different kind of person, different segmentation of the person can be finding in these places. We are looking for someone who has basic language knowledge to conduct an interview, the English language level of these places is higher than other district, so that it is an appropriate place for interview.
Process: We can choose two or three questions from the past paper, those are most common mistake in the previous LPAT test. Select a different degree of depth in the question. Starting with the easily question to interview an interviewee, according to interviewee's respond to continuous the other questions. We request the interviewee point out the error from the question and ask them to correct it in the right answer. Compare the answer by the interviewee how to different with the candidate.
Respondents: Who is planning to have an assessment in future and failed in assessment in pervious LPAT test. They are the most important interviewee because they lead the most important role in the assessment, when they are preparing for the assessment, they will clearly to know the difficult in between. Someone who failed in assessment, they may help to analysis the reasons of failed in the test.
Location: Any place let the interviewee feels comfortable
Process: It can be conducting in one by one interview or telephone interview. Using telephone interview because some of the candidate is existing teacher in the school, they are not willing to disclose the identity, they may afraid to affect the image of them or their school. So, these kinds of interview make them feels security and more objective. In one by one interview, it may give a mock paper for the interviewee who is planning to have assessment, all question will be find in past paper. After that, we can check the answer together, to discuss the real answer and ask the interviewee feels after they finished the mock paper. This mock paper helps us to analysis the real problem in LPAT test.
Professional in language scope
Respondents: They can be a school principal, English lecturer in University, representative of Education Bureau or who is involve in LPAT.
Location: Any place let an interviewee feels convenience, may be in their office.
Process: This group of interviewee can be share their experience in the test, help us to cognitive the question in the LPAT, they will know more about the meaning of the LPAT, help to find out the deep reason that are failed in the test.
Method 2: Research in the past paper
Some of the teachers said that the question of the writing part is too difficult for them, so they don't have a sense in the past in some question. We are trying to find out some questions in previous past paper, to compare the degree of the question in LPAT paper, go through the questions are belonging to which level student.
We will obtain 5 previous LPAT in writing paper of explanation of errors/problem section, find out the pattern of the question in these 5 years, analysis which grammatical features is often occur in paper, find the possibility of the most common question in the paper. After research, we will know that the weakness of the candidate and analysis. Such as the most common question focus on tenses, infinitive and defining clause in the previous paper.
According to these analyses, it can give us a reference to recognize the question is easier one or difficult one, to verify the teacher's view is correct or not.