In this paper, some fundamental issues on mathematics assessment and how they are related to the underlying cultural values in East Asia are discussed. Features of the East Asian culture that impact on mathematics assessment include the pragmatic nature of the culture, the social orientation of East Asian people, and the lop-sided stress on the utilitarian function of education. East Asians stress the algorithmic side of mathematics, and mathematics is viewed more as a set of techniques for calculation and problem solving. The notion of fairness in assessment is of paramount importance, and there is a great trust in examination as a fair method of differentiating between the able and the less able. The selection function of education and assessment has great impact on how mathematics is taught, and assessment constitutes an extrinsic motivation which directs student learning. Finally, the strengths and weaknesses of these East Asian values are discussed.
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