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DepEd Defends Inclusive Awards System Amid Criticism of Academic Performance Rankings

MANILA — The Department of Education (DepEd) emphasized on Friday that the current awards and recognition system in schools aims to reduce pressure and competition among learners, encouraging them to focus on personal academic excellence. This statement comes in response to a viral social media post questioning the rising number of students receiving academic awards despite the country’s poor performance in the 2023 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).

“Different parameters are used by PISA in assessing country scores, compared to those we use for school awards and recognition based on achievements. Therefore, we cannot directly compare classroom performance results with international large-scale assessments,” said DepEd Assistant Secretary Francis Bringas in an interview on TeleRadyo Serbisyo.

The awards system, implemented since the start of the K to 12 program, removed titles such as “valedictorian”, “salutatorian”, and “honorary mentions” which were previously limited to the top 10 students in a class or batch. Under the new system, students with an average grade of 90 to 94 receive the “with honors” award, those with 95 to 97 receive “with high honors,” and those scoring 98 to 100 are awarded “with highest honors.”

“When we had valedictorians and salutatorians, learners were competing against each other. With the new grading and awards system, they are competing against themselves. If they meet the standards, they are recognized,” Bringas explained. “This system highly encourages learners to strive for excellence and is more inclusive, as it is not limited to just the top 10 in the class.”

However, the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) has called for a review of the current awarding system. TDC Chairperson Benjo Basas noted that while the system promotes individual academic excellence, there is a lack of uniformity and solid standards in grading.

Basas observed inconsistencies after handling transferees who had strong academic records from previous schools but were behind in learning. “Teachers and schools sometimes lower their standards or give some consideration to students who are putting in effort and seem deserving of rewards,” he told ABS-CBN News.

He explained that student grades are not solely based on exams but also on subjective assessments, such as written and physical performance. “The problem is that grading appreciation can vary widely among localities and schools,” Basas continued.


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