DepEd open with PISA results, closed with NAT results?
By Estanislao Albano, Jr.
The day after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the Department of Education (DepEd) posted its detailed report on the performance of our school children in the said study in its website. That’s apart from the open discussion of what the agency thought went wrong and what should be done now in media and other fora by the officials of the agency. There is an irony in the DepEd’s transparency on the shameful and shocking PISA results because in contrast, they keep the results of our very own assessment test in strict secrecy.
In the wake of the PISA fiasco, DepEd officials have been referring to the striking similarity of the results with that of performance in recent National Achievement Test (NAT) but only they know what they were are talking about as they have not made these data accessible to the public in defiance to subsection 2, Section 3 of DepEd Order No. 55, series of 2016, for the results of the NAT to be disseminated for public consumption.
Up to now, the results of the 2016 National Achievement Test (NAT) cannot be found in Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) statistics publications. Going by the 2015 and 2016 Philippine Statistical Yearbooks editions which contained the NAT results for the next preceding year, the 2018 yearbook which came out middle of last year should have reflected not only the 2016 but also the 2017 data but did not. Just like with the yearbooks, the Philippines in Figures, another statistics publication of the PSA, is also stuck with the 2015 NAT results up to the 2019 edition.
Except for the official statement of the agency on the PISA failure, there is no reference to the NAT results from 2016 onwards in the DepEd website and the rest of the Web and needless to say, no data too.
The only logical explanation to the behavior of the DepEd regarding the results of the NAT from 2016 onwards is that they do not want the country to have a good look at the cold figures of how our basic education tumbled to a new low. They do not want the world to know how in 2016, our Grade 6 NAT performance fell by a huge 27.07 mean percentage score (MPS) — 69.10 in 2015 to 42.03 — which was incomprehensible and staggering because before that time, the biggest difference in the score from one year to the next was less than 5 points. It was also barely half the 77 MPS target for 2016. And it marked the time we fell from “average mastery” range (66 to 85) where we have been for sometime to “low mastery” range (36 to 65). In 2017 and 2018, the scores inched closer to “very low mastery” at 39.97 and 37.44, respectively.
Had the DepEd, instead of sweeping the dismal results under the rug, exercised transparency, reforms would have been formulated then and there as a matter of course and who knows we may have done a bit better in the PISA. Even granting that it was too late in the day for the reforms to impact our PISA performance, at least the reforms are already in place unlike now that we still have to start the process. Clearly, the decision of DepEd officials to muffle the alarm repeatedly sounded by the NAT was a serious disservice to the country its children specially. This obscurantism and display of immaturity on a very crucial education data is not what the country deserves and expects from its educations officials least of all Secretary Leonor Briones who vowed to the Commission on Appointments that her administration would exercise full transparency.