Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Legions of grade-conscious students and parents may be surprised when the first report cards under the new K+12 education program come out. Instead of numerical values, grades will be letters under a system that may not at first appear logical.

According to DepEd Assistant Secretary Toni Umali, the new grading system this year will apply only to grades one and seven, the two grades most affected by K+12 policies.

As expected, A is the highest. But B is the lowest. And the second highest is P.

The letters actually represent levels of proficiency, abbreviated as follows:

    A for Advanced (90 percent and above)
    P for Proficient (85-89 percent)
    AP for Approaching Proficiency (80-84 percent)
    D for Developing (75-79 percent)
    B for Beginning (74 percent and below)

Teachers will still measure students' progress with numerical values, but their letter equivalents above will be used in report cards. The new system is explained in DepEd Order No. 31, but does not explain why it is superior to the old system of using numbers on report cards.

Educational systems overseas typically use letter grades, with some even using Pass/Fail systems. But parents accustomed to the traditional system in the Philippines have questioned the new system's lack of granularity, where a grade of 91 is clearly higher than 90 (under the new system, both would be A's).

"How will you determine the ranking of a Top 1 student over the next in rank?" asks parent Ricardo Lopez via Twitter.

DepEd's Umali says the department precisely wants the focus to be less on competition than on achieving standards of learning.

The DepEd order states in  typical bureaucratese: "The assessment process is holistic, with emphasis on the formative or developmental purpose of quality assuring student learning. It is also standards-based as it seeks to ensure that teachers will teach to the standards and students will aim to meet or even exceed the standards."

Under the standards-based assessment, promotion and retention of students shall be by subject. Students whose proficiency level is B will be required to take remedial classes after class hours.

In other words, a consistent B in one subject could mean repeating only in that subject while the same student can be promoted to the next grade in all other subjects. The DepEd order further explains that student performance will still be assessed at four levels: knowledge (15 percent), process or skills (25 percent), understanding (30 percent) and products/performances (30 percent).

The results of the student's performance will be summed up based on these levels to come up with a numerical value. The corresponding level of proficiency will appear on the report card at the end of the quarter.

For the final grade, the quarterly ratings will be averaged and expressed in terms of the levels of proficiency. The general average will be computed based on the final grades of the different learning areas, and will be expressed in terms of the levels of proficiency. The numerical equivalent shall appear in parenthesis.

According to DepEd Memorandum No. 158 on the Standards-Based Student Assessment and Rating System, the philosophy behind the new system is that assessment shall be used primarily as a quality assurance tool to track student progress in the attainment of standards, promote self-reflection and personal accountability for one's learning, and provide a basis for the profiling of student performance. — Carmela Lapeña/RSJ/HS, GMA News

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