DepEd Told to Stop Sending Non-Readers to High School, Change Teachers’ Assessment System

The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) is urging the Department of Education (DepEd) to stop sending non-readers to high school and to also change the assessment system it uses for rating the teachers’ performance.

In recent years, a lot of high school teachers have expressed alarm after discovering that many of their students do not know how to read! Can you imagine high school students who are unable to read?

Early this year, a high school in Quezon City went viral for forming a special section for non-readers. What alarmed the teachers is that the students don’t even know the ABCs, numbers, and basic shapes yet were able to graduate from elementary.

Photo credit: Business World Philippines

But the problem is not just limited to that school. Across the Philippines, the same issue hounds high school teachers who could do nothing but accept these students or find ways to help them learn how to read while also moving forward with high school lessons.

Why Non-Readers Reach High School

A lot of people were surprised to learn about this issue, but the problem actually lies with the assessment system that the DepEd imposes for teachers.

Under the system, teachers are assessed based on the dropout rate. The dropout rate became inversely proportional to their performance rating. This means that the higher the dropout rate, the lower their performance rating.

Since the assessment is used as basis for the performance-based bonus (PBB) that teachers receive, nobody wants to fail a student because the PBB will be lower. Plus, the DepEd imposes a “zero dropout” target in its “No child left behind” policy.

This is the main reason why teachers let all students pass – it doesn’t matter if they failed all their tests or didn’t go to school for most of the year.

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 PIDS revealed in a report entitled, “Pressures on Public School Teachers and Implications on Quality”.

With the current assessment system, teachers and schools have high ratings despite a lower quality of education. Thus, even in top performing schools (on paper), there are a lot of non-readers who get to graduate from elementary.

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 signaling from DepEd that such action is poor practice needs to be stronger,” the PIDS report added.

Since public high schools are also under DepEd, the cycle continues as the teachers are forced to make these students pass, too. Sadly, that means they could graduate from senior high school even without knowing how to read!

Photo credit: Concept News Central

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also pointed out the declining National Achievement Test (NAT) results as alarming. The lower NAT ratings in recent years are a reflection of how the quality of education is rapidly declining in the Philippines.

Considering that many students make it to high school (and eventually college) even without knowing how to read, the declining NAT results no longer come as a surprise…


  1. This is really really true.. I am a public school secondary teacher and I truly feel the pressure of having Grade 8 students (4 out of 61 students in a class) don’t know how to read.

  2. I’m a university level teacher and an occasional teacher at the College Bound Program of the university where I work. I am shocked to have students who cannot read within their approproate level. The same goes for their writing skills.
    Something must be done!

  3. Government policy on education system should revisited and polish to cater the demands of time in the of field of elementary and secondary school specially the non readers in elementary level.

  4. My view…is that…Teaching young minds and even those old ones… is a collaborative effort between and among parents in the home … teachers in schools..local government units in the community…

    • I agree. and may I also add to please do something to make paperworks of teachers be lessen. By doing this, I believe educators can give more time to teach their students since we cannot easily get help from their parents who are sometimes blaming us for their child’s failure.

  5. Focus! Expertise! Commitment! – with ample time and prioritisation for these struggling readers please… plus monitoring and assessment of the implementation of the trainings attended.

    • Focus! Expertise! Commitment!??? Yes, we have it all. But no matter how hard we tried to deliver the quality of education that we received during our time, still we can’t focus. Why? it is because of to much paper works and many inter- school contest program of deped and other factors like the following.

      I do not know if “they” know the ratio of a classroom and learners. Well, just for the information of those who did not know, there are at least 100 learners in a classroom because of 2 sessions. Why? probably it is because of lack of classrooms. And for the chairs at least 2 learners for a seat.

      If only, this 2 sessions will end, we can focus on our learners. Because, like the old days, ( I mean our time) we were not sent home not unless we will be able to do out task, like writing, reading, and memorizing MDAS.

      Oh, and please consider a quality buildings please. Hindi yong hindi pa nga nagamit may crack na…

      Competencies are forced to finish in each quarter.
      They prepared the competencies that should be covered at the end of each quarter. But then, they did not consider the interruptions of classes because the school is used for inter-school contest of different subjects, sports and etc..

      For the readiness of the learners, please consider also the age. 6 years old for Grade 1 and 12 years old for Grade 7 is not really appropriate. Yes, maybe there are those at that age that can learn faster but how about their maturity. I doubt it.

      Mass Promotion
      And can you do something about the Mass promotion and the No learner’s left behind… Because, for 6 years of my child in elementary including kinder, I always beg the teachers to please retained my child in the same grade level if he can’t read, (I know he is slow learner ) and guess what each teacher said, “Hindi naman po sa hindi nakababasa ang anak ninyo, slow reader lang siya. At hindi po pwede mag-retained, Ma’am. Utos po ng DepEd na mass promotion.” Tanong ko lang may deped order ba niyan? kahit anong hanap ko sa deped website wala akong makita. ”

      Thank, God. My child can read now, thanks to his Grade 6 teacher, for his younger brother and my effort also. We worked collaboratively for him to learn how to read. He is now in Grade 7, but his level in reading is in Grade 5 (at least, for me). And he still, required to read everyday by us. No matter what topic and we let him explain about what he read to test his comprehension.

      Maganda magkaroon ng iba’t ibang strategy but consider also the learners ability. Hindi ‘yong gaya-gaya tayo sa ibang bansa ngunit hindi naman nababagay sa sitwasyon ng bata. Dagdag mo na rin ‘yong pasikatang strategy using IT but the learning could not even execute simple mental calculation. I used the strategies of my teachers before to my children, but gosh they would only answer me, “Ma, you are not my teacher and you will not be the one to give us grades…” What?

      Oh, one more thing. Maybe because of poverty they could say this to us teachers but there are also parents whom I think forgot their responsibilities on the basic education of their children. If you are going to report to them the problem of their children, they simple replied with, “kaya nga pinapaaral namin sa school, Ma’am, dahil trabaho ninyo ang magturo sa mga anak namin. Hindi namin kasalanan kung bakit hindi marunong magbasa yan. kasalanan ninyo yan. At ano ba ang uunahin namin, ang magpababasa sa kanila o ang paghahanap ng ipapakain sa kanila…” Talaga?

      Calling all parents. Please do not answer your children’s assignment. Let your child answer it. Train them to do it on their own. Stage mother, no more na sana…

      for me, these are just few of the factors why we have low quality education now than before.

  6. this is because of the considerate law that force the teacher to have no longer authority over the students, at early stage a student must be strictly disciplined to learn the basics especially reading. child protection policy only spoiled these children and taking for granted their education. adding also the bloated load of paper work a teacher has to do instead of just teaching. this trend will only continue and more and more non readers will be promoted in the elementary level

  7. YES, DEFINITELY!!! I am hoping that they would be able to realize that giving more loads of paperworks doesn’t do any good for a better education. Please let the teachers do their own thing on how to teach their students. We know our own students as their adviser. They have different abilities and needs and therefore different strategies are needed. We are very welcome to give extra time for our students as much as possible but we can never be successful on doing our part if we will always be too tired!!!

  8. If I may add further a teacher will pass a PARDO/SARDO even if he/she is a non-reader not only to maintain zero drop out rate, because if you fail him – failure rate will increase, if he enroll again – repeater rate will increase, if he did not enroll – school leaver rate will increase, and the other performance indicators will be affected: completion rate, retention rate, cohort survival rate, graduation rate, promotion rate, etc. and all of these is being blamed to the teacher and school. ANG SAYA SAYA.

  9. There are a lot of factors why children cannot read. I hope Deped will also conduct free assessment for dyslexia and other learning disabilities so these problems related to learning and reading are addressed at an early stage. Without proper assessment why children can’t read, we cannot simply implement better solutions that are unique to every student.

  10. This is really true i am in the system for about 5 years. Everybody is very particular with statistics. Then the teachers itself is the source of the data. such form 14 where the mps can be found of the test created by the teacher himself. If you have low mps it means bad performance. Some of my colleagues almost give the exact questions before the periodical test to students inorder to get higher mps. there is no measure of learning at all. this is really funny. at the end of the school year it doesnt matter what the performace of the students is because they will pass with very little effort even those who were absent more the 20% of the school days because if the will fail even with the best effort of the teacher it is still their fault. I believe lawmakers can do something about this.

  11. Been with the teaching field for a long time and had observed that due to modern gadgets.spelling of words and reading problems and sentence construction is a burden for those who are in secondary schools specially coming from remote areas not to mention all and for us teachers this would really be a hindrance in giving better grades,but somehow that would depend on the school and teachers participation in creating a good and bright graduates…standards of the school learning strategy really matters..

  12. We’re doing the same thing in our school we have this so called “Intensive Care Class” we gathered all the n non readers into one section and I was appointed as the adviser since I’m a language teacher. It’s so heartbreaking knowing that most of them couldn’t read and couldn’t identify alphabets 😢

  13. I’m grade six teacher. Totoong nahihirapan din kami sa intermediate. Ang primary level bkasi pinapasa na sa Amin.l nahihirapan din kami… Ang dami naming gusting e retain pero ayaw ng principal.kaya yun move . My suggestion Lang Sana. Bawasan Ang subjects sa primary grade. Yung focus sa reading, writing at arithmetic. Yung basic concept of other subject sa intermediate na Lang.

  14. Isa pang nakakapagpagulo minsan sa pagtuturo ng Reading lalo na sa kinder. Sabi sa mga seminars wag dw pilitin ang bata na magbasa. Confusing ang advice na ganyan kc baka mag-isip na lang ang teacher na wag nang pabasahin ang bata. Ang dapat sabihin sa seminar ay gabayan ang mga bata sa kinder para madevelop ang genuine love for reading o dapat hasain ang batang nasa Kinder na magustuhan ang pagbabasa.

  15. Lawmakers/Politicians don’t know anything about education. Just like the traffic in Metro Manila, they thought they know a lot, but they don’t. So I hope someday that a Teacher Deped Secretary will be in-charge of Philippine Education, not just some pets of Corrupt Politicians.

  16. No good teacher could really teach well with so many students in a room compared to in the private schools where there are only 20 or 25 the most students per classroom in the secondary. In the elementary, there are even 10 pupils in a room. Indeed one could compare the effectiveness of teacher’s teaching in relation to number of learners. Parents should understand that education has equivalent value. It couldn’t be gotten for free. In the private schools, the principal checks the reading abilities of the children regularly. Those slow readers are submitted to the teacher concern to supervise, teach, and MUST read. Hence there are no non-readers in the private schools

  17. start on revisiting the program,, stop the MTB in grades 1 & 2,, just give them 3 subjects, the WAR subjects,, WRITING, ARITHMETIC and READING,, you will see the result after 4 years,,

  18. While the paperworks of teachers increases, the quality of teaching declines.

    Instead of paying attention to their class, teachers get a ton of other jobs to perform and there are meetings here and there. Competitions impaling the class because teachers are sent to represent their schools. The “no one left behind” policy should be reexamined considering that, in the previous generations, the quality of education was significantly higher than it is now.

    Students lose their respect to their teachers because they know they won’t even get dropped from the class, so that how many times they would absent, they still will move on to the next grade level. On the other hand the drop out rate of the school will be insignificant and, consequently, the teachers get a higher bonus!

    I think, what the Leaders should do is to allow the students to realize they have a responsibility. Allow the teachers to drop their non-performing students, it’s the latter’s responsibility, nonetheless. Teachers should not be burdened of passing a non-performing student, afterall, it’s not their fault that they could not make home visitations, it is the system’s fault. Change the way Teachers are assessed, not on the drop out rates of the school. DepEd should welcome new ideas and stop blaming the teachers. Just saying 🙂

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