DepEd won’t abolish ‘tainted’ school achievement tests

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THE Department of Education (DepEd) is not keen on scrapping the National Achievement Test (NAT) despite allegations of massive cheatings or leakages as claimed by several groups.

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Education Secretary Armin Luistro explained that school achievement tests cannot be abolished that easily as the agency uses this to gauge the mastery of lessons by public school students and to determine other school needs.

“As indicated in our K-to-12 roadmap, we’re now actually discussing assessment framework aligned with new curriculum. The review includes NAT but it would be imprudent to abolish it and not have a replacement,” Luistro told this reporter in a text interview on Friday.

As to allegations of cheating or leakage, Luistro said they will accept leads or affidavits that can help DepEd file cases against erring personnel.

“DepEd shall institute many reforms already to prevent such from happening. If there are details or leads which we can follow, we take the initiative to investigate and file cases motu propio,” he said.

In an interview with the ABS-CBN News, a teacher who requested anonymity claimed that the practice has been going on for some time – and they are the ones who make answer keys for the students. It was also learned that even students are allegedly aware of the practice.

Earlier, the militant teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) asked for the immediate abolition of NAT as complaints and reports on massive cheatings on its conducts were received by the teachers’ group.

“Ideally, NAT is designed to test the development and performance of the schools in the country. Results of this examination 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 NAT. They are forced because NAT results are used as a basis in allocation bonuses for the teachers and the school’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses,” France Castro, the group’s secretary general, said.

“Students were no longer taught the things that they need to know.

Because of the Performance-Based Bonus scheme, teachers are to receive bonus based on the school’s performance in the said exam,” Castro added.
The Federation of Associations of Private Schools and Administrators (Fapsa) also called on for the scrapping of the school achievement tests, stressing that “students need to think, not memorize.”

Fapsa president Elezardo Kasilag said public school teachers resort to “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,” he said.

“It forces public school teachers to a set of knowledge to increase performance on the NAT exams; repetition of simple, isolated skills (“drill and kill”) or memorization and none on a holistic under-standing of the subject. They abandon assignments engaged in critical thinking in favor of drill, memorization, and repetitive practice,” Kasilag said.

The Fapsa head suggested that “our schools have to come up with system far greater than what computer can do, our students have to be prepared to have answers for questions yet to be formulated, to be able to do things not of this world and exhaust the infinity of their minds and not the half-baked truths they are given in schools.”

NEIL ALCOBER

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