Thursday 2 July 2009

Education: Analysis of HKALE Use of English Results 2009

This year's HKALE results were released on the 30th June 2009. I guess apart from the parents, nobody really care much about this news, but for me, I am really interested in the performance of the students in their English papers. And so I hurried to the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority website, and read up on the official press release.

And this is what I read,

"This year, a total of 38,647 candidates entered the examination, representing an increase of 1% on last year. Of the total candidature, 74.9% attempted the examination for the first time and 22.9% entered as private candidates."

"Same as last year 0.9% day school first attempters attained A for AS Use of English while the percentage of candidates receiving E or above was 76.4%, representing an increase of 2.1% over last year."

And take a look at the following table, I added the TOTAL column myself:

Analysis of Results of Day School First Attempters in Use of English


Okay, what can you see from the above data? Does that look pretty nice? From the first sight, I felt like, "that's not too bad!" They are almost all big number! So, like the press release, they are doing better! 2.1% more students passing is really a lot!!!

But then a careful look, hang on! This is acculumated percentage table!!! They just add up the percentages as it goes from left to right, so if you want to find the real percentage for each grade, you need to minus the big number from right to left, so it should loook like this:


From here, you can see much better than, well, yeah, the percentage of students getting Grade F has lowered by 2.2%, and almost half of these have gone to Grade E, while the rest are distributed to the Grade B,C and D. But still, I am more demanding than just the B,C or Ds, so I pretty much only care about the Grade A students.

Why hasn't the percentage gone up? You see, less than 1 percent of the students are getting Grade A, that means 38647 x 74.9% x 0.9% = 2605.19427 --> 2605 first attempters got Grade A for Use of English.

Is that a big or a small number?

I don't know, we take total area of Hong Kong (6054.5 and then see how often you will meet someone who got a Grade A for their Use of English (6054.5 / 2605 = 2.3 per, which is roughly 2.3 of them per 140 standard football fields (0.105 km*0.068 km = 0.00714 in Hong Kong.

You will get to meet 2.3 of them in per 140 standard football fields??? The chance is that you won't be able to see them even if you are standing on flat ground of the same area.

Anyway, less than 1% is really low. I will only go for this percentage if you ask me choose this or the lottery.

But of course, I am being too picky, there are many others who can speak good English, so you shouldn't be upset about not being able to find someone to speak English to.

However, my point is, say, 3 years later, when these 2605 students have graduated from universities, what is their contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) going to be?

FYI, they are 0.0372% of the estimated 7 millions Hong Kong population.

Cruely speaking, if only the top English speakers would have a hopeful future (which is definitely unlikely), the future looked pretty grim. Luckily, Mandarin is playing a more and more crucial part of the money world. So my advice is, if these Secondary School students really cannot handle English, they must go and master their Mandarin.

Either way, they both take hard work and lots of practices, that's for sure!