The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) has called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to issue clearer instructions to elementary schools to stop allowing non-readers to graduate.
The recommendation was contained in the study conducted by the PIDS scrutinizing pressures bearing down on public school teachers and how these impact the quality of basic education in the country posted in its website.
The report titled Pressures on Public School Teachers and Implications on Quality said Grade 7 students who could not understand what they read were among the perverse effects of the performance evaluation and incentive system of the DepEd, which pushes for a zero dropout target.
Under the system, the dropout rate in the class forms a part of the bases for assessing the teachers performance and is also used in determining his or her performance-based bonus, the annual incentive for government personnel adjudged to have met targets.
In the absence of other clearer student performance-based measure that can be traced back to quality of teaching, dropout rates become the metric for teacher quality. This sends a problematic incentive signal to teachers as they are evaluated based on zero dropout rates and not on actual quality of learning of students, the report said.
The PIDS said the insistence on the dropout rate as determinant of performance and incentive had led to the practice of mass promotion, wherein even students who failed exams and skipped half of the years school days can be promoted.
Some of these students will end up in seventh grade without knowing how to read for comprehension, the PIDS report said.
While acknowledging the difficulty of striking a balance between ensuring completion and securing good quality education, the PIDS insisted that limits should be observed, one of which is to forbid passing on to high school pupils who could not read.
Sending non-readers to high school should be actively discouraged and elementary schools that allow this require close monitoring and supervision. Even without sanctions, the signalling from DepEd that such action is poor practice needs to be stronger, the PIDS said.
The DepEd has yet to comment on the report and call of the PIDS, and has been largely mum on the issue on non-readers.
Declining NAT results
In his call for measures to improve basic education in connection with the Senate Committee On Educations review of the implementation of the K to 12 curriculum made in March, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian cited as one proof of the deteriorating quality of education the low scores in the National Achievement Test (NAT) in 2016 and 2017.
Gatchalian did not go into details, but in 2016 compared with the 2015 average mean percentage score (MPS) of 70.88 the Grade 6 NAT performance plummeted to 42.03 or by 28.85 points. This is unprecedented because from 2006 to 2015, the highest MPS margin from one year to the next in Grade 6 was 4.87, which occurred in 2008.
All the regions incurred two-digit MPS losses, the least being the 12.73 points of the National Capital Region (NCR) and the most being the 39.80 points of the Caraga Region. The reductions represented 21.92 percent of the 58.05 previous MPS of NCR and 50.01 percent of the 79.58 MPS of Caraga in 2015, and had the effect of catapulting NCR from No. 16 to No. 3 and sinking the perennial No. 1 Caraga to No. 14 in the rankings.
Also, the 39.40 and 43.38 MPS for Grade 6 and Grade 10, respectively, in 2017 were the lowest in the history of the standardized test, a conclusion based on the published statement of former Education secretary Armin Luistro in May 2011 that the achievement levels of elementary and high school students were declining based on NAT results from 2005 to 2010.
Luistro had mentioned that for 2010, the high school NAT average MPS was 46.30, while negligible gains were attained in the elementary NAT average, such that the 64.81 MPS in 2008 inched up to 69.21 by 2010.
The earliest Grade 6 NAT result online was that of 2006, which was 55.16; and that of 2005 for Grade 10, which was 46.80.
This correspondent had requested the DepEd for the entire results data of the NAT, but all it provided were the results from 2013 to 2017.
In emails on March 16, this correspondent asked the DepEd regional directors of NCR, Caraga, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Regions 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 for reaction to Gatchalians assumption that NAT scores reflected the prevailing quality of education.
Like Caraga, Regions 9, 12, 8 and 11, which were also consistent frontrunners in the NAT, were but a shadow of their old selves in 2016, losing nearly half of their 2015 scores at 36.60, 36.34, 35.13 and 30.83, respectively.
Because of the setbacks, Region 9 tumbled from No. 5 to No. 17 with 36.60 MPS, Region 12 from No. 3 to No. 15 with 36.34 MPS, Region 8 from No. 2 to No. 8 with 41.93 MPS, and Region 11 from No. 7 to No. 11 with 41.40 MPS.
In 2017, the four regions lost more ground Region 11 by 3.40 points, Region 9 by 2.94 points, Caraga by 2.88 points and Region 12 by 1.49 points.
On the other extreme, ARMM, CAR and Region 7 incurred losses below the national average of 28.85 MPS at 14.70, 21.89 and 25.88, respectively, based on their 2015 scores. This resulted to drastic changes in their rankings, with CAR assuming the top position from No. 13 with 47.90 MPS; Region 7 jumping from No. 11 to No. 2 with 46.27 MPS; and ARMM moving up from No. 15 to No. 4 with 44.94 MPS. (PIDS)
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