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…


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