Phil-IRI data missing (Last of a series)
By Estanislao Albano, Jr.
It is very evident from the foregoing account that generally speaking, the DepEd is not serious about achieving the purpose of the tests which is to know the current reading proficiency of pupils for purposes of instituting the appropriate interventions in cases where such are warranted. While in documents about the program reading is hailed as the “foundation of all learning,” this is not reflected in the way the program is being carried out by the DepEd.
The Baguio City and Tuguegarao City divisions informed that there were years the Phil-IRI which is supposed to be a yearly activity was not administered. And of the times they administered the tests, the three divisions has not kept any records. Neither do their regional offices. And yes, the national DepEd cannot also present any data on Phil-IRI results. I do not want to entertain the thought that they have the records but do not want it exposed for public scrutiny.
These failures in the implementation of the Phil-IRI were allowed to pass by the DepEd national office. What happened to the program and what is happening to the program merely confirms the suspicion that the agency does not want to confront the reading problem squarely possibly because it cannot stand the truth that in recent years, the same has worsened to an alarming degree.
But if the DepEd only wants to, it can still harness the Phil-IRI for the benefit of Filipino children by introducing some changes in the conduct of the test. The first innovation should be to open up the process to outsiders either as test administrators or as co-test administrators. I am strongly suggesting this because of my conclusion, based on results of my investigations and likewise comments from some DepEd educators, that when done completely in-house, the Phil-IRI only serves to window dress or whitewash the dismal performance of the agency in teaching reading.
An arrangement whereby the test is administered by outsiders would also serve to unload school teachers from the additional burden and stress of conducting the tests. I gather there is no scheduled time for the conduct of the Phil-IRI so that teachers just call the concerned pupils whenever they could squeeze the activity in their hectic schedules.
About the money involved in engaging outsiders to administer the Phil-IRI, I am sure that there are educators out there – retired and active – who would volunteer to do the job out of their passion for the education of the young and their love of country. Volunteerism is not yet dead in this country. If Filipinos could volunteer to serve as watch dogs for clean and honest elections risking their safety in the process, it is not foolish to believe there are Filipinos who would want to save the youth from the massive bungling of the DepEd one clean and quick way of which is exposing to the world the current reading proficiency or lack of it of our public school children.
The idea is the participation of outsiders will cease the moment the DepEd can show sufficient proof that it can already do the job properly and as intended.
Those who dispute my conclusion that DepEd severely needs outside participating in the conduct of the Phil-IRI may try to explain the presence of non-readers in the intermediate grades and even in high school despite the Phil-IRI. I have learned that officials in a schools division in another province have been asking how come the post-test results for a grade in some schools reflect no non-readers but in the results of the pre-test of the said pupils the following school year, non-readers would re-appear.
Another measure which could strengthen the Phil-IRI is to require the presence of parents or guardians during the test specifically for pupils with reading difficulties. This will force parents to accept that all is not well in the schooling of their children and to act accordingly. No parent in his right mind would want his child to be the laggard in the class. The thought that their real status in school could no longer be hidden from their parents could also serve as motivation for children to exert more effort to learn to read.