THE Department of Education (DepEd) is not keen on scrapping the National Achievement Test (NAT) despite allegations of massive cheating or leakage by several groups.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro explained that school achievement tests cannot be abolished that easily as the agency uses them to gauge the mastery of lessons by public school students and to deter–mine other school needs.
“As indicated in our K-to-12 roadmap, we’re now actually discussing an assessment frame–work aligned with the new curriculum. The review includes the NAT but it would be imprudent to abolish it and not have a replacement,” Luistro told The Manila Times in a text interview on Friday.
As to allegations of cheating or leakage, Luistro said they will follow leads or affidavits that can help the DepEd file cases against erring personnel.
“The DepEd shall institute many reforms to prevent such from happening. If there are details or leads which we can follow, we will take the initiative to investigate and file cases motu propio,” he said.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, a teacher who requested anonymity claimed that the cheating and leakage have been going on for some time and the source knew that because teachers are the ones who make answer keys for the students. Even students are allegedly aware of the practice, the source said.
Earlier, the militant group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) asked for the imme-diate abolition of the NAT because it has been receiving complaints and reports of massive cheating.
“Ideally, the NAT is designed to test the development and performance of the schools in the country. Results of this exami–nation serve as guide for the department in the formulation of programs and policies to further the standards of basic public education in the country. However, this is not happening right now. Teachers are forced to do ‘teach to test’ to get the higher results during the conduct of the NAT.
They are forced to because NAT results are used as a basis for allocating bonuses for the teachers and the school’s maintenance and other operating xpenses,” France Castro, the ACT secretary general, said.
“Students were no longer taught the things that they need to know. Because of the performance-based bonus scheme, teachers receive bonuses based on the school’s performance in the NAT,” Castro added.
The Federation of Associations of Private Schools and Administrators (Fapsa) also called for the scrapping of the school achievement tests, stressing that “students need to think, not memorize.”
Fapsa president Elezardo Kasilag confirmed that public school teachers practiced “teach to test” to get incentives. He said public schools that do not show “adequate yearly progress” in the NAT face sanctions such as a decrease in their maintenance and other operating Expenses.
“Teaching to test is simply item-teaching which removes the validity of tests and it is reprehensible. It should be stopped,” Kasilag said.