DepEd to continue using existing grading system for upcoming school year

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday maintained schools will still use the existing grading system this upcoming school year.


DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio made the announcement after a federation of teachers urged the agency to devise a “pass or fail” grading mechanism for students.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines urged DepEd to “adopt a more flexible system that measures students’ performance by how well lessons aided learners in adapting to the unusual situation we’re in and in actively participating in productive endeavors at home and in their communities” through a “pass or fail” grading system.  

San Antonio explained implementing a non-graded system at this point would mean additional burden to teachers. 

“Even if we use a letter grade or pass or fail, teachers would still need to use a system to assess the performance of their students and we want to avoid giving additional workload to our teachers at this time,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones in a “Handang Isip, Handa Bukas” virtual press briefing said, “This is a very crucial issue for an institution which is engaged in an academic function."

Briones said there were already recommendations to implement a “pass or fail” system as well as mass promotion of students as early as March.

She pointed out the possible impact of the “pass or fail” grading system - especially for high-performing students and schools. 

When the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) came out, Briones recalled how people were “screaming at the top of voices: 'why are we at the bottom of the barrel?'” 

The PISA results showed that over 80% of Filipino students fell below the minimum level of proficiency in reading while the Philippines ranked among the lowest in Math and Science. 

“What would be the impact for example to high performing students and schools?” Briones said. “We can't ignore the fact that we have 20 schools whose PISA scores are higher than the rich countries - as a group.” 

For San Antonio, retaining the current grading system would also help graduating students or those who are applying for various scholarships. 

Colleges and universities, he explained, primarily rely on grades of their applicants. “Where will they get their scholars and what will be their basis? Right now, the numerical grade system is more appropriate,” he explained.

ACT said the DepEd “misses the whole point” of its proposal. 

“The more flexible 'pass or fail' grading system seeks to recognize that amid a pandemic and the shift in education modalities, capacities of families to support their children's education have been gravely affected,” the group said.

For ACT, it is “unfortunate” that these bigger concerns were sidelined by DepEd's concerns on global competitiveness, scholarship requirements, and their misguided concepts of motivation and excellence. 

“Motivation and excellence should rightfully be driven by the students' appreciation of education's relevance to their lived experiences and the importance of education in helping them become productive members of society," ACT said. "If these are not what DepEd has been teaching our students all along, then Philippine education system has been failing our youth."