High school non-readers failure of divisions, elementary schools – DepEd

BLESSING-- Ten dialysis machines from the Department of Health were added to the existing four units of the Bontoc General Hospital of Poblacion, Bontoc, Mountain Province. The blessing (inset) of the dialysis rooms and machines was held March 11, 2019 with Fr. Marcs Castañeda and Fr. Michael Tokoyen together with Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan Jr., Board Member Cariño Tamang and chief of hospital, Dr. Raquel Tannao Kanongkong. The members of the Capitol Choir filled the air with good music for the happy occasion. **Ferdie Cariño Castañeda

The Department of Education (DepEd) national office maintains it has nothing to do whatsoever with the phenomenon of non-readers in high school shifting the blame to the lower rungs of the agency particularly the divisions and the elementary schools.
In an interview at their office and through email, Supervising Education Program Specialist Jocelyn Tuguinayo and Senior Education Program Specialists Angel Jabines and Nemia Cedo of the Bureau of Learning Delivery (BLD) said that the mandate of the national DepEd office is standard and policy formulation regarding the implementation of different basic education programs and projects.
Tuguinayo explained that the national office monitors the implementation of programs at the regional level only and the responsibility for monitoring what is happening in the schools falls on the schools divisions.
On the other hand, Jabines said that the principals of the elementary schools where the Grade 7 non-readers are coming from are to blame for the irregularity because they attested that the students satisfactorily completed the curriculum.
She said it is the lookout of principals that elementary school graduates be able to read.
Tuguinayo said it is for this reason that principals are often seen making pupils read and in the cases of pupils found to have reading difficulties, they assist and guide the teacher in coming up and applying proper reading interventions for the child.
She added that the DepEd frowns upon the retention of pupils in a grade because as early as the first quarter, teachers could already identify the areas where pupils are weak at and could already tailor remedies for the child in coordination with the principal.
When this correspondent raised the case of the roomful of Grade 7 non-readers and frustration level readers in the Sauyo National High School in Novaliches, Quezon City featured in the documentary “Pag-asa sa Pagbasa” in the I-Witness program of GMA 7 on September 1, 2018, Tuguinayo absolved the DepEd national office of any fault saying that the alma maters of the students should have made the proper interventions with the assistance of their division supervisors.
Tuguinayo maintained that the presence of non-readers in high school does not reflect on the national DepEd because they are performing their mandate the best they can. She added that when it comes to policies, they conduct reviews every two or three years for enhancement purposes.
The three did not comment when this correspondent asked if since the phenomenon of non-readers in high school began to be felt the DepEd has already issued reminders to the field offices to see to it that no non-readers are allowed to graduate from the elementary.
Jabines then asked the correspondent how he could be certain the alleged Grade 7 non-readers really could not read when the students passed their other subjects “and reading is the foundation of all learning.”
In answer, this correspondent presented other media reports and also issuances of regional offices and one division office article culled from their respective websites as additional proofs that pupils now could reach the intermediate grades and even high school still illiterate.
The story “Valenzuela gov’t allots P300M to save slow and non-readers among students” in the Philippine Daily Inquirer February 9, 2014 first sounded the alarm on the non-reader problem reporting that a government reading tests revealed that one and eight of every 10 Grade 6 pupils in Valenzuela City that school year were non-readers and frustration level readers, respectively.
The special report “We have Grade 7 students who could hardly read” in the April 29 and May 10, 2018 issues of this paper chronicled the incidence of non-readers including some Grade 7 students in the Tabuk City and Kalinga divisions.
An unnumbered memorandum of the DepEd National Capital Region dated September 6, 2018 required the submission of data in English reading performance of elementary and secondary learners with the report form for high school students having a column for non-readers.
DepEd  Region IV-A Regional Memorandum No. 18-312 dated June 5, 2018 which enjoined support for their reading intervention program cited reports that  “there are still non-readers in grades 7 and 8 and readers with poor comprehension in higher grades.”
DepEd Region XI Regional Memorandum No. 113, s. 2108, titled “Brigada for Every Child a Reader” stated it is “in response to feedback of perpetuating existence of non-readers in both Elementary and Secondary Levels” and DepEd Region XII  Memorandum HRDD No. 20, s. 2018, titled “Regional Training on Grades 4-8 reading teachers on Care for Non-readers (CNR) Program” included Grades 7 and 8 teachers.
The article describing the program titled “LEAP 8” of the DepEd Catanduanes Division posted in their website said: “The results of PHIL-IRI (Pre-Test and Post Test) revealed that there are still many learners in all schools and in all levels that are still in the frustration and instructional group in reading level. Much more, non-readers are still present in all grade levels.”
The three did not comment on the documents.
Neither could they satisfactorily explain why the DepEd cannot show the data on the results of the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory ( Phil-IRI) for past school years.
The Phil-IRI is a reading assessment tool developed by the DepEd to identify students with reading difficulties and help the teacher institute appropriate interventions for them and also for the school head to plan reading programs and activities for the school.
This correspondent had written the BLD April 19, 2018 requesting “results of the PHIL-IRI pre and post tests per division for SYs 2011-2012 and 2016-2017 and for the consolidated national PHIL-IRI pre and post tests results from SY 2011-2012 to SY 2016-2017.” On November 6, 2018, he received a reply from BLD Director IV Leila Araceli Areola saying they do not have the data since “the consolidation, interpretation and analysis are done at the school level” and that the Phil-IRI is a classroom-based assessment tool.
This correspondent followed the suggestion of Areola to go to the schools divisions for the consolidated data of their respective schools and visited the division offices of Benguet, Baguio City and Tuguegarao City all of which said that they do not have data for the previous years. Neither could the regional offices of Region 2 and Cordillera Administrative Region provide any.
Baguio City Division could only give the results for the English pre-test this school year while Tuguegarao City Division gave the pre-test for English also for this year for only one of the four districts of the division.
This correspondent asked the three education program specialists how come the national DepEd and the field offices do not have data when the Phil-IRI manual covering the period whose results he sought required the consolidation of the results of the reading tests at the school, district, division and regional levels with the regional reading profile submitted to the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE) of the DepEd.
Tuguinayo explained that the DepEd does not prepare a national reading profile on the rationale that the Phil-IRI is intended for classroom intervention and is already addressed at the school level.
She further said that under the old Phil-IRI, they used to consolidate the results but in 2009, some officials of the DepEd questioned the need to maintain a national database since the concept of the Phil-IRI is to serve as a reading assessment tool in the classroom level. She alleged the DepEd then decided to cease maintaining the database.
Through an email, this correspondent referred the educators to DepEd Memorandum No. 266, series of 2010, dated June 10, 2010 titled “Philippine Informal Reading Inventory Reporting and Database System” which states that “the system facilitates speedy and accurate processing and transmission of data from the schools through the divisions to the national level.”
He also cited DepEd Order No. 70, series of 2011, titled “Guidelines on the utilization of funds for the Every Child a Reader Program” includes among its purposes the “management and maintenance of a database” and c.3 of DepEd Order No. 50, series of 2012, titled “Guidelines on the utilization of funds for the Every Child a Reader Program” which mandates the “enhancement of existing data-base reporting of the Phil-IRI.”
In an email, Tuguinayo rectified her information saying it was in 2012, through DepEd Memorandum No. 143, series of 2012, titled “Assessment of Reading in Public Elementary Schools” when the management and maintenance of the Phil-IRI database was terminated as the issuance no longer requires the schools to submit results to the database.
The memorandum, however, states that the consolidated school reading profile “can be shared with the Regional Office (RO) and Central Office (CO) to provide valuable inputs in terms of knowledge, programming and policy formulation.”
When this correspondent observed that this means that if the DepEd national office was and is really interested in the information specially in the face of the non-reader phenomenon in high school, it would endeavour to have copies of said documents, the education program specialists did not comment.
The educators still have to act as of this writing on this correspondent’s request for data on number of students in the reading levels including the number of non-readers recorded in the database.
When the correspondent asked during the interview at the BLD if the DepEd national office has any idea on the population of Grade 7 non-readers all over the country, Tuguinayo had said that they do not have any although the Bureau of Educational Assessment has statistics for the least learned skills but not the number of non-readers.
Relative to the K-12 timetable for learning reading which is from Grades 1 to 3 in contrast to the traditional curriculum where pupils learned to read in Grade 1, this correspondent asked if the DepEd has any research showing that today’s children, unlike their predecessors, are no longer capable of learning to read in Grade 1, they said that the agency does not have such a study.
They said that under the K-12, the teaching of reading in Mother Tongue, Filipino and English is no longer done just in Grade 1 but in Grades 1 to 3 in that order because a study has shown that it is important for children to learn to read in the Mother Tongue before they could learn to read in other languages.
They also could not tell when the “No Read, No Move” policy for Grade 1 was scrapped but Jabines said that when she taught Grade 1 in 2000-2009, she did not pass anybody who could not read while Tuguinayo recalled that there were no non-readers in Grades 4 and 6 when she taught sometime in the 90s.
This correspondent had raised the issue because of the widespread belief including among some educators that the decision to do away with the policy was one of the most crucial errors committed by the DepEd which opened the gates to non-readers in subsequent grades all the way to high school. **By Estanislao Albano, Jr.

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