The National Achievement Test in the Philippines

There is information to be gained from data. Tests in schools can be informative. Scores of students provide a quick glimpse of the current state of education. Thus, it is useful to have these numbers. These numbers may not tell everything in detail with high accuracy. Nevertheless, test results allow for a useful perspective. The National Achievement Test administered by the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Philippines, a set of standardized tests addressing the major subjects taught in school, is an example. These tests are given to Grade 3 where students are assessed in both English and Filipino (These two subjects comprise two thirds of the exam) and Math and Science (These two account for the remaining one third). A different set of tests is given to Grade 6 pupils where each of the following 5 subjects is assigned 40 items: (Science, Math, English, Filipino and Social Studies). Another set is administered to fourth year high school students (This is currently the last year of basic education in the Philippines since K+12 has not been implemented yet for the additional two years in high school). The scores in these exams are reported as percentage of items correctly answered. A mean percentage score (MPS) of 75 percent is currently set as the goal of the DepEd. The following are data from a presentation made by the National Education Testing and Research Center, entitled "NAT Overview and 2012 Test Results".

The numbers for the overall MPS for the school year 2011-2012 are as follows:

  • Grade 3: 57.0%
  • Grade 6: 66.8%
  • High School: 48.9%

The goal of 75% seems elusive at this point. The presentation made by the National Education Testing and Research Center also provides some analysis and I would like to highlight the following. In my opinion, these may be significant:

For Grade 3: National Average : 57.0%

  • Schools that are outside the town proper have an MPS of 61.4%
  • Schools were Pupil-Textbook Ratio in English Grammar is 1:1 have an MPS of 62.1%
  • Schools that have individual reading have an MPS of 59.7%
  • Schools where quizzes are regularly given have an MPS of 60.3%

For Grade 6: National Average: 66.8%

  • Schools that do not have computer laboratories have an MPS of 79.3%
  • Schools that have adequate textbooks in Math have an MPS of 73.0%
  • Schools where teachers discuss the lesson the whole period (chalk-talk method), then ask questions if there is remaining time have an MPS of 67.7%
  • Schools where quizzes are regularly given have an MPS of 68.4%

For High School: National Average: 48.9%

  • Schools where pupils are not engaged in labor have an MPS of 51.9%
  • Schools where teachers present first the concept/theory followed by a variety of examples and/or situational roles and then application concept have an MPS of 52.3% in Science (to be compared with the national average of 40.5%). A similar correlation is found in Math and English.

In addition, the following factors have also been found to correlate positively with MPS:

  • Single shift schools
  • TEEP (This was discussed in a previous article, where focus is given on providing resources (classrooms, textbooks, teacher training) in the early years of education) This correlation is observed even with the high school scores, clearly demonstrating the long term effects of the program.
The above is not surprising as these items have been pointed out in numerous posts in this blog. These are factors that influence the quality of education in schools. Even the fact that giving quizzes helps has been mentioned in this blog. 
The effectiveness of direct instruction has also been highlighted in the article "Best Evidence Encyclopedia": Proven Programs in Basic Education. Even the superiority of textbooks over online material has been discussed in "Reading: On-Screen Versus In-Print". 

Although a decade has passed and 75% is still not within reach, it needs to be pointed out that there are pockets of excellence in Philippine basic education. These are schools that seem to be doing great. An example comes from the schools in Bangui, Ilocos Norte:
  • Bangui Central Elementary School, MPS: 93.0%
  • Bangui National High School, MPS: 73.1%
75 percent is indeed within reach. It is not impossible.

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