DepEd silent on 27.07 drop in Grade 6 NAT score in 2016

TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Three years after the 27.07 points fall in the mean percentage score (MPS) of the Grade 6 National Achievement Test (NAT), the Department of Education (DepEd) has yet to enlighten the public on what may have caused the debacle.
While DepEd officials including Secretary Leonor Briones point to the new design of the questions pursuant to the K to 12 Curriculum’s stress on 21st Century Skills as the culprit for the more or less 30 point drop from the average MPS of Grade 6 NATs previous to 2016 to the average level since then, their explanations omit 2016.
In her memorandum dated Sept. 21, 2018 transmitting the results of the 2017 NAT to the regional offices, Bureau of Education Assessment Director Nelia Benito said that it was not appropriate to compare the 2017 NAT result with those of the NATs before it because they measured the 21st Century Skills.
In a letter reacting to the article “Cheating in National Test Bared by DepEd” (The Manila Times, Sept. 9, 2018) emailed to this correspondent on October 23, 2018, then-Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Lorna Dig Dino echoed the explanation of Benito also stating that the new design of the questions went into effect in 2017.
In the questioned article, a public high school teacher alleged that the yawning gaps between the Grade 6 average MPS of 2016 and 2017, and those of previous NATs were a confirmation of the massive fraud, which used to attend the examinations in the past.
The teacher also explained that the 2016 and 2017 NATs were administered at the start of the following school year instead of at the end of the current school year, which in the case of the Grade 6 NAT meant that the takers were in high school and, therefore, cut off from what she called a “system of assistance available to them in their elementary schools.”
Vehemently denying the fraud allegation, Dig Dino had explained: “One of the factors that most probably contributed to the low MPS is the fact that, the NAT results in previous years is a product of the previous assessment framework which was profoundly competency-based, or meaning to say, is based on the Basic Education Curriculum (BEC). On the other hand, the current (2017) assessment framework for all exit assessments (Grade 6, 10 and 12) is progressive in nature and specially tested 21st century skills, i.e. Problem Solving, Information Literacy and Critical Thinking Skills of the learners as stipulated in DepEd Order No. 55, s. 2016.”
However, the transcript of the subcommittee hearing of the Senate Committee on Education on March 6 quoted Assistant Secretary Torio that the change in the design of the questions in the NAT took place “last year.”
Torio said in pages 48 and 49 of the transcript: “So before, NAT is a competency-based assessment but starting last year when we already fully implement—when we are fully implementing now the K to 12, iyon nga iyong gusto natin, 21st century skills. So talagang nagkaroon din ng shift ng framing ng questions ng NAT. So 48 iyon nga iyong sinasabi natin, we cannot really compare iyong result ng latest NAT doon sa previous NAT kasi kung makikita po natin na talagang bumaba po iyong NAT results natin.”
In a letter dated October 24, 2019 answering the letter of this correspondent asking for reconciliation of the statements of Benito and DigDino on one hand and that of Torio, Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said that the change in the NAT questions design was done in 2017.
She wrote: “The NAT set of questions was different for 2016-2017 to start to cater to the K to 12 curriculum (21st Century Skills) vis-à-vis the old curriculum.”
A memorandum from Torio to Sevilla attached to the letter stated that Torio was concurring with the “cited officials that the results of the 2017 NAT serve as baseline data for the new National Assessment Framework (NAF)” despite her statement in the March 6, 2019 Senate hearing.
The 2016 drop in Grade 6 NAT performance was remarkable because prior to that time, the biggest difference incurred from one year to the next in Grade 6 NAT was 4.87 recorded in 2008 and the score in 2016 is close with that of 2017 which was 39.97 which in turn is proximate to the 37.44 MPS in 2018.
Meanwhile, despite follow ups, the DepEd continues to sit on this correspondent’s request for the complete national summary of the results of the 2018 NAT acknowledged on June 18, 2019 way beyond the time allowed by its own regulations.
The last feedback from the agency was an email from Ma. Guia del Valle, executive assistant at the Office of the Secretary, October 9, 2019, stating that they cannot as yet send the data as they are preparing a narrative report to go with the results because they are refraining from releasing raw results.
She said that once ready, the data with the report will be made available to the public and I will be furnished a copy.
As of this writing, November 25, 2019, however, this correspondent has not yet received the report and data which is a violation of Section 13 of the Department of Education People’s Freedom of Information Manual and Implementing Details, the agency’s adoption of the Freedom of Information Order, stating that the requester is notified of the disposition of his request not later than 15 days from receipt of the request.
Section 11 of the manual provides that the agency will respond to the request for information within 15 working days which is extendable by not more than 20 working days in cases of information which need extensive research to prepare.
The results of the 2018 were already available in April when the respective results of the regions were disseminated.
The DepEd still has to comply with Section 3 of the enclosure of DepEd Order No. 55, series of 2016, setting forth the policy guidelines on national assessment of students learning under the K to 12 which stated that the results of the NAT be disseminated to the public “through different modalities such as the DepEd website, through DepEd issuances, conferences and forums.” **Estanislao Albano, Jr.

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