DepEd-CAR reaffirms “No Read, No Pass” policy

The Baguio Filipino-Chinese Community and the City Government launches the scheduled events and activities for Spring Festival 2020, an institutionalized celebration in Baguio City which is now on it's 27th year. The Traditional Chinese Dragon dance will be among the highlights of the colorful parade set for the afternoon of January 27. **Carlito Dar/PIA CAR

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – In a move intended to stop the practice of promoting failing students commonly referred to as “mass promotion” as well as deal with the reading crisis, the Department of Education-Cordillera Administrative Region (DepEd-CAR) has issued a memorandum mandating the retention of frustration level readers and non-readers starting this school year.
Citing DepEd Order No. 45, series of 2002, Regional Memorandum No. 013-2020 titled “Reiteration of the ““No Read, No Pass”” Policy,” stated that no pupil is expected to be promoted to the next grade “unless he or she manifests mastery of the basic literacy skills in a particular grade level.”
The memorandum directed public elementary schools in the region to conduct the second Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI) for the school year in February for the identification of non-readers and frustration level readers for purposes of intervention and the post test in March “to determine the learners who shall be retained in the current grade level.”
“School heads shall provide necessary support to upskill and reskill teachers in the provision of appropriate interventions and shall ensure that all learners do not graduate as non-readers,” the memorandum said.
In a meeting on January 10, Regional Director May Eclar said that the memorandum was one of actions emanating from the consultations held by the DepEd-CAR last December to discuss ways to improve the delivery of basic education services in the region
One of the inputs during the consultations was the proposal that the DepEd-CAR issue a memorandum banning the promotion of pupils who have not attained all the competencies prescribed by the curriculum for their grade as a means of ending the alleged practice of promoting failing students commonly known as “mass promotion.”
Eclar had denied the existence of such a policy and stated her office will clarify the issue later.
Eclar and other officials of the DepEd-CAR explained to Rev. Frederick Munda who represented the proponents during the January 10 meeting that DepEd Order No. 45, series of 2002, was not set aside but may have only been overlooked.
Eclar said that the K-12 assessment portion does not specifically prohibit the promotion of non-readers perhaps on the assumption that there is an existing “No Read, No Pass” policy which, according to her, was not rescinded.
When Munda asked if the problem on non-readers and struggling readers was a factor in the performance of the region in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the DepEd-CAR officials admitted the possibility considering the participating schools were randomly picked.
In a later statement reacting on the memorandum, the proponents expressed their desire to support the implementation of the policy by way of monitoring the conduct of the Phil-IRI and likewise holding spelling drills for Grade 4 pupils at the end of the school year in random schools in the region.
The group invoked the provisions of the “Sulong Edukalidad” initiative of the DepEd as well as Memorandum No. 173, series of 2019, in seeking DepEd-CAR authority for the proposed involvement in the enforcement of the memorandum
The E component in the acronym KITE of “Sulong Edukalidad” stands for “Engagement of stakeholders for support and collaboration” while paragraph 5 of page 9 of DepEd Memorandum No. 173, series of 2019 states that the DepEd shall work with communities and stakeholders in pursuit of the goal of the program which is “to make every learner a reader at his/her own grade level.”
The DepEd-CAR officials had mentioned the possibility for the group to get involved in the implementation of the memorandum through the School-based Management Teams and the School Governing Councils during the January 10 meeting but the group feels the arrangement would limit their involvement.
In the same statement, the group also manifested their full support for the intent voiced by Eclar during the January 10 meeting that the DepEd-CAR should not be content with its high ranking among the regions in the National Achievement Test (NAT) and also in the PISA but should go for standard scores in the two tests.
The Cordillera ranked No. 1 in Grade 6 in the NAT for school years 2016 and 2017 and No. 2 in Grade 10 NAT in school year 2016 (it was not among the regions tested in Grade 10 in 2017) and was No. 4 with its overall score of 358.33 in the PISA behind the National Capital Region (382.66), Region 7 (363) and Region 4A (361.66). The average in the PISA was 488.33.
The advocacy group said that considering the long history of the Cordillera with the English language, its strong performance among the regions in the NAT and the PISA and also the obtaining climate being open to the pursuit of change for those who take the step, the goal of attaining par in the two tests is realistic.
They, however, cautioned the DepEd-CAR that it cannot realize the dream “with the excess and heavy baggage of the Mother Tongue weighing it down every inch of the way.”
The group pointed out that the Mother Tongue policy makes the country the only one among the participants in the PISA where children learn to read and comprehend the test language in Grade 4 the Mother Tongue being the medium of instruction from Grades 1 to 3 in the K to 12 Curriculum.
The group also argued that Filipinos have been learning English in Grade 1 and to make children go through the Mother Tongue “on the ground that it will facilitate the attainment of the language is like suggesting that the most practical way to go to Baguio City from La Trinidad is to pass Tublay.”
Tublay and Baguio City adjoin La Trinidad on opposite sides.
They also said that “Filipino children have not lost their old aptitude to learn English at a young age as shown by the fact that many of them learn to speak English at 4 year old by merely watching cartoons on television.”
They also claimed there is an “observable gap in the performance of pre and post Mother Tongue Grade 4 pupils” adding that contrary to the claim of the DepEd that Mother Tongue makes the learning of additional languages easier in turn redounding to better overall academic achievement, there is a significant reduction in the English, Filipino and overall NAT scores since the Mother Tongue was introduced in school year 2012-2013.
“In view of the foregoing, we strongly urge the DepEd-CAR to take a definite stand on the Mother Tongue policy for purposes of the DepEd K to 12 review and possible Congress deliberation on the fate of the policy which is consistent with its goal to make the studentry of the Cordillera at par with their international counterparts,” the group said.
The DepEd-CAR is the second region which issued a policy for the retention of students who could not read.
On March 21, 2014, the DepEd-National Capital Region (DepEd-NCR) issued Regional Memorandum No. 067, series of 2014, titled “No Read, No Pass” Policy declaring that no pupil who could not read in Filipino should be promoted to Grade 3 and likewise no pupil should be promoted to Grade 4 onwards if he could not read both Filipino and English with violators subject to sanctions which it did not specify.
However, the GMA 7 documentary “Pag-asa sa Pagbasa” which was shown on September 1, 2018 featured a roomful of Grade 7 students in the Sauyo High School in Novaliches, Quezon City who were struggling readers or could not read at all. The batch were in Grade 2 at the time the policy was issued. **By Estanislao C. Albano, Jr.

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