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Cutoff scores of HKDSE from 2012 to 2018

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Dear The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority,

I am writing to request the official cutoff scores (the minimum scores required for level 1 - 5**) from 2012 to 2018 for the following subjects:

Chinese Language
English Language
Mathematics (Compulsory)
Liberal Studies
Physics
Chemistry
Economics
Biology
Business, Accounting and Financial Studies
Mathematics (Module 2)

I would be very grateful if you could provide me with the data. Thank you very much!

Yours faithfully,
Leo WONG

Dear The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority,

Following my last email request, I would also like to obtain the cutoff scores for components of Chinese Language and English Language. Could you please provide me with the information?

Also, could you please acknowledge the receipt of the email? Thank you!

Yours faithfully,

Leo WONG

HKEAA Information, The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority

Dear Mr Wong,

Thank you for your enquiry received on 16 January and it had been forwarded to the Access to Information Officer for handling.

Regards,
Public Affairs and Communications Unit
Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority

show quoted sections

Access to Information Officer, The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority

Dear Mr Wong,

 

With reference to your requests dated 15 and 16 January 2019 (Ref no:
ATI1901002), please find our reply as follows.

 

Regarding the cut scores for Category A subjects and components of Chinese
Language and English Language of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary
Education Examination (HKDSE), it should be noted that
[1]Standards-referenced Reporting (SRR) is adopted in HKDSE Category A
subjects, in which candidates’ performance are reported with reference to
a set of prescribed standards.

 

Depending on the level of difficulty and the number of questions in the
examination papers, as well as the performance of candidates each year,
the actual cut scores for each level may vary from year to year. Due to
this variability, the information would have little feedback value to
stakeholders. On the other hand, releasing these data may lead to possible
misinterpretation of the standards of various levels by candidates,
teachers and the public at large.

 

In view of the complicated and variable nature of the information, we
cannot disclose the requested information and the reasons as permissible
under paragraph 2.4 of the [2]HKEAA Code on Access to Information are
quoted below:

 

‘2.4 Information the disclosure of which could harm or prejudice the
secrecy, integrity, reliability or conduct of examinations or assessments
administered by the Authority, including but not limited to information
the disclosure of which could be misleading or harm or prejudice the
proper conduct of examinations or assessments.’

 

In case you do not agree with our reasons for non-disclosure, you may seek
a review by writing to us with grounds provided, if any.

 

Please contact Miss Tse on 3628 8807 if you have any questions.

 

Regards,

Access to Information Officer

Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority's handling of my FOI request 'Cutoff scores of HKDSE from 2012 to 2018'.

In the response provided, it is claimed that the complicated and variable nature of the requested information makes it unsuitable for disclosure, and may lead to misinterpretation of standards of the examination.

However, this claim is unsubstantiated. As there are past papers provided for different years, the variation in difficulty is already a known fact. Meanwhile, standards set by the examination are never clearly explained. It is only qualitatively described in documents such as "Grading Procedures and Standard-referenced Reporting in the HKDSE". Everyone could essentially consider themselves falling into one of the levels. On the other hand, a cut score for the subjects would quantitatively explain the requirements and standards of the HKDSE. The information would provide value to those who are interested in testing their ability through doing the HKDSE past papers. There is high feedback value for these cut scores.

Moreover, disclosing the information does not harm the secrecy, the integrity, the reliability or the conduct of the examination. As the papers of the following years remains unknown, everyone would still be fair in sitting the future HKDSEs. Yet, when the standards are disclosed, at least potential candidates can get a rough idea of their level based on past performance. This helps them not only in getting better prepared for the HKDSE through training in weaker areas, but also choosing different post-secondary programmes. Currently, cut scores shown on different websites, relying on claimed levels and scores by the general public, are unreliable. Despite this suspicion, being the only source of information, the stakeholders can only rely on these websites. These websites may really mislead the stakeholders. Clarificationof actual cut scores by the HKEAA, as the administrative organisations the HKDSE, is the most suitable approach in order to explain, with details, the standards set by the examination.

Therefore, may you please reconsider carefully whether to disclose the cut scores for the subjects mentioned in the previous emails. If it is still not possible to do so, is it possible to disclose the mean score and the standard deviation score for the papers of the subjects? In this way, potential candidates will at least be able to know the relative performance in the papers to past candidates.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://accessinfo.hk/en/request/cutoff_...

Thank you for your kind attention, and please acknowledge the receipt of this review.

Yours faithfully,

Leo WONG

HKEAA Information, The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority

Dear Mr Wong,

Your request for review dated 18 January 2019 is being processed and we will reply as soon as possible.

Regards,
Public Affairs and Communications Unit
Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority

show quoted sections

Access to Information Officer, The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Wong,

 

I am writing with reference to your request for an internal review made
under paragraph 1.21 of the [1]HKEAA Code on Access to Information dated
18 January 2019 (Ref no: ATI1901002) regarding our refusal to disclose the
cut scores for Category A subjects and components of Chinese Language and
English Language of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education
Examination (HKDSE).

 

Request for Review

Having carefully considered your request for review, we maintain our
previous decision that we are not able to accede to your request for the
reasons below:

 

(a)       The design of Standards-referenced Reporting under the HKDSE is
to promote a standard-based assessment reflecting candidates' ability as
opposed to an assessment focused on scores. Releasing cut scores is
contradictory to this objective and sends out a wrong message to the
public that candidates must achieve a certain score to obtain a certain
level in the HKDSE.

 

(b)       In order to enhance understanding about the standards expected
for each level, the HKEAA has published Level Descriptors for all Category
A subjects, which describe specifically the performance standards of
candidates in the expected learning outcomes of each subject, as well as
Samples of Candidates Performance, which are authentic samples of HKDSE
candidates scripts in each examination year to illustrate the typical
performance standards at different levels. The information provides
meaningful and comprehensive feedback to teachers and students.

 

(c)        Cut scores are determined based on the subject mark (and/or
component mark if applicable) which is not simply the sum of candidates
scores on the scripts. During marking and grading of the HKDSE, a series
of adjustment, equating and weighting processes are carried out to convert
candidates raw marks on the scripts to the subject mark. You may refer to
the HKEAA website for more details on the processing of marks:

[2]http://www.hkeaa.edu.hk/en/HKDSE/assessm...

 

(d)       Each year, an expert panel of judges is set up for each subject
to recommend the cut scores for each level taking into account a number of
variants. These variants include the level of difficulty of individual
papers and questions for the subject, individual weightings, the number of
questions and the relative performance of candidates in different papers,
etc. These variants change every year, thus the cut scores may vary across
years. Releasing cut scores may mislead candidates and teachers to wrongly
rely on cut scores of previous years as a benchmark of performance in
future HKDSE.

 

Request for mean score and standard deviation score

The mean and standard deviation of scores for HKDSE subjects are a
complicated and variable set of raw data which is intended only for the
reference of public examination professionals during the grading process.
They vary from year to year and from subject to subject and disclosing
them may lead to possible misinterpretation of the standards of the HKDSE.
We will not disclose such information and the reasons as permissible
under paragraph 2.12 (a) of the [3]HKEAA Code on Access to Information are
quoted below:

 

2.12(a) Information relating to incomplete or other analysis, research,
reports, working papers, data or statistics, including but not limited to
information or data relating to examination scores, marks, marking,
grading and the assessment process, where disclosure could be misleading,
deprive the Authority or any other person of priority of publication or
affect its commercial or strategic value or its proper assessment or
interpretation.

 

We hope you understand that the above decision has been made based on
careful consideration of public interest. If you think that the Authority
has failed to properly apply any provision of the Code on Access to
Information, you may consider lodging a complaint to The Ombudsman.

 

Regards,

Access to Information Officer

Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority

 

________________________________________

H: Leo WONG <[4][FOI #341 email]>

H: 2019~118 17:27

: HKEAA Information

D: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Cutoff scores of
HKDSE from 2012 to 2018

 

Dear The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority,

 

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information
reviews.

 

I am writing to request an internal review of The Hong Kong Examinations
and Assessment Authority's handling of my FOI request 'Cutoff scores of
HKDSE from 2012 to 2018'.

 

In the response provided, it is claimed that the complicated and variable
nature of the requested information makes it unsuitable for disclosure,
and may lead to misinterpretation of standards of the examination.

 

However, this claim is unsubstantiated. As there are past papers provided
for different years, the variation in difficulty is already a known fact.
Meanwhile, standards set by the examination are never clearly explained.
It is only qualitatively described in documents such as "Grading
Procedures and Standard-referenced Reporting in the HKDSE". Everyone could
essentially consider themselves falling into one of the levels. On the
other hand, a cut score for the subjects would quantitatively explain the
requirements and standards of the HKDSE. The information would provide
value to those who are interested in testing their ability through doing
the HKDSE past papers. There is high feedback value for these cut scores.

 

Moreover, disclosing the information does not harm the secrecy, the
integrity, the reliability or the conduct of the examination. As the
papers of the following years remains unknown, everyone would still be
fair in sitting the future HKDSEs. Yet, when the standards are disclosed,
at least potential candidates can get a rough idea of their level based on
past performance. This helps them not only in getting better prepared for
the HKDSE through training in weaker areas, but also choosing different
post-secondary programmes. Currently, cut scores shown on different
websites, relying on claimed levels and scores by the general public, are
unreliable. Despite this suspicion, being the only source of information,
the stakeholders can only rely on these websites. These websites may
really mislead the stakeholders. Clarificationof actual cut scores by the
HKEAA, as the administrative organisations the HKDSE, is the most suitable
approach in order to explain, with details, the standards set by the
examination.

 

Therefore, may you please reconsider carefully whether to disclose the cut
scores for the subjects mentioned in the previous emails. If it is still
not possible to do so, is it possible to disclose the mean score and the
standard deviation score for the papers of the subjects? In this way,
potential candidates will at least be able to know the relative
performance in the papers to past candidates.

 

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this address:
[5]https://accessinfo.hk/en/request/cutoff_...

 

Thank you for your kind attention, and please acknowledge the receipt of
this review.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Leo WONG

 

 

 

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References

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3. http://www.hkeaa.edu.hk/DocLibrary/About...
4. mailto:[FOI #341 email]
5. https://accessinfo.hk/en/request/cutoff_...
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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Leo WONG please sign in and let everyone know.