DepEd's no periodical test policy draws mixed reactions

The proposal of the Department of Education (DepEd) to do away with the conduct of periodical tests this school year had mixed reactions from stakeholders from the public and private education sectors.

The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) said the “no periodical exams” policy in DepEd “should not be made to apply mandatorily to the private school system.”

COCOPEA Managing Director Atty. Joseph Noel Estrada explained that private schools should not be forced to implement this policy because student assessment -- though examinations and other means -- is “within the recognized academic discretion, strategy, and judgment of the private school authorities, not subject to control of the government.”

Estrada added that “failure to take a major examination is usually fatal” to the students' promotion to the next grade or to graduation, thus, examination results form a significant basis for their final grades.

“These tests are usually a primary and an indispensable requisite to their elevation to the next educational level and, ultimately, to their completion of a course,” Estrada said. “The importance of grades, assessment, or however you call it, cannot be discounted in a setting where education is generally the gate pass to promotion in grade level, eventual employment, and a better life,” he added.

While COCOPEA recognizes that the move not to administer periodical tests is in consideration of the varying circumstances of the students, Estrada stressed that “quality education should be allowed to thrive in innovation, not defeated by COVID-19 through retrogression.”

DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio, during the Sept. 14 virtual press briefing, said the agency is “dispensing periodical exams on our proposed assessment” and will do “written outputs and performance tasks” instead.

This move was welcomed by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines. “The decision to forego periodical exams is a positive step towards addressing these ever-relevant matters concerning the education system,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.

Basilio said that ACT has been urging DepEd to deload the already “distressed” students by eradicating “old rigid means” of assessing how well learning objectives were met as well as the appropriateness and effectiveness to determine such. “The next step should be to sincerely look into a pass-or-fail evaluation system and find its merits, again based on education’s ultimate aims,” he said.