By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Even after graduation, Senior High School (SHS) completers will likely to have a “busy summer” as the Department of Education (DepEd) confirmed the administration of two assessment tests tentatively scheduled this April and in May.
DepEd key officials, led by Education Secretary Leonor Briones, underscored the importance of conducting these assessment tests for SHS graduates in a recent press conference. DepEd announced that there will be two assessment tests for Grade 12 completers this summer: the National Achievement Test (NAT 12) to be administered starting April 12 onwards and the Basic Education Exit Assessment (BEEA) scheduled in May.
DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Lorna Dino said that there will be a “random sampling” of schools for NAT 12 while the BEEA will be “mandatory to all SHS graduates” in both public and private schools.
As defined, NAT is a set of examinations “designed to determine the academic levels, strength and weaknesses of students.” The BEEA, on the other hand, is an exam which aims to determine the learning progress and attainment of learning standards of the Grade 12 students.
Briones said that the administration of the BEEA was in response to the suggestion of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). At the time when the free tuition law was announced, she said that the DepEd was advised by DBM that it “might be a good idea” to establish a system of assessment for SHS graduates but not with a “pass or fail” standard.
“It will be the school who will determine their cut off score but we will make the results of the assessment available,” Briones said. The BEEA also aims to “provide empirical information as basis for the improvement of the curriculum, learning delivery, assessment, and for policy review and formulation.”
Dino said that the originally, DepEd did not intend to administer the NAT 12 anymore. However, due to procurement problems and failure in bidding in the printing of examination for the BEEA, DepEd has decided to push through with NAT but to select schools only. Given the Holy Week schedule, she said that “printing and delivery” was very difficult for DepEd.
The NAT, Dino said, was planned to be given to Grade 12 for random sampling only. “The purpose of this is for systems evaluation,” she added. “We intended not to give NAT 12 anymore but unfortunately, because of suspended timeline for BEEA, we really made sure that there is a sort of assessment to inform the DepEd as regards [to] what to do with the next SHS program,” she added.
Not a requirement but…
Earlier, some parents and Grade 12 students expressed concern on the “late notice” from DepEd regarding the assessment tests. Some were also worried that their failure to take the NAT and the BEEA might prevent them from graduating or getting college admission.
Dino, however, expelled these fears saying that taking the NAT and the BEEA “is not a requirement for graduation and admission to college.”
For the NAT 12, she explained, not all schools or students will be taking it since it be on a random sampling basis only. “If the school is chosen as a sample, then all the students there are required to take the exam,” Dino said.
“I believe that it is not really a requirement to be able to enter college, hopefully the learners will be able to take the exams even if these will be done in summer,” Dino said. Through the NAT, she said that schools “would also like to be informed how they are doing as an implementer of the Grades 11 and 12 and the whole DepEd would like to be informed on what we can do together to be able to do a better implementation for the next years to come.”
However, all SHS graduates are required to take the BEEA. “With the free higher education, college education is now free and in a sense, everyone who will enter the SUCs [State Universities and Colleges] and LUCs [Local Universities and Colleges] are scholars so we need to have a guide how many will avail of the program,” Briones said.
The BEEA, Briones explained, “can vary from what the schools require of their students and also their absorptive capacity.” She also noted that the test prepared by DepEd can be used by SUCs and LUCs as a basis of student’s admission to their institution if they choose to do so.
Appeal to parents, students
While the scheduled tests may spoil their summer vacation, DepEd appealed to parents and grade 12 graduates to bear with the necessity.
“At this point, our appeal to parents and students who will be graduating – between April 2 to 6 – is to participate in the examination,” Dino said. “We could not really make any improvements unless we have a set of data that will really inform us on how we could do better, on how the delivery of SHS could be better for our children,” she added.
Dino said that the administration of NAT and BEES would really need “strong participation and cooperation” from parents and Grade 12 for themselves. “We want the parents to understand that DepEd has tried so hard to make this happen before the graduation ceremonies but there was a problem in the procure and failure in bidding so we’re really very sorry we could not deliver on time,” she ended.