Grade 6 NAT scores at ‘low mastery’ level
THE performance of Grade 6 students in the National Achievement Test (NAT) has been steadily declining in the last three years, placing them at the “low mastery” descriptive level of the Department of Education (DepEd).
The 2018 NAT results showed that for the third straight year, the national average mean percentage score (MPS) in the Grade 6 NAT continued its downward trajectory at 37.44, the weakest performance in the history of the standardized examination of the DepEd.
These results were contained in Regional Memorandum 157, series 2019, of the Department of Education Cordillera Administrative Region (DepEd CAR) Office, which also showed that the score in 2017 was 39.95, marking the first time the performance in the test breached the 40 MPS mark.
Meanwhile, the Grade 10 MPS of 44.59 improved by 0.51 over the score in the 2017 of 44.08.
The figures mean that the Grade 6 takers in the 2018 NAT got less than four correct answers out of every 10 items, while the Grade 10 takers averaged over four correct answers out of 10 items. Both scores, however, fall under the “low mastery” level in the NAT.
The descriptive equivalent of NAT scores are as follows: 35 below, very low mastery; 36 to 65, low mastery; 66 to 85, average mastery; 86 to 95, moving towards mastery; 96 to 100, mastered.
Before 2016, the Grade 6 NAT takers had reached the “average mastery” level, as the average MPS in 2013 was 69.54, 71.82 in 2014 and 70.88 in 2015.
On the other hand, Grade 10 takers were steady at the “low mastery” range with 51.41 MPS in 2013, 53.77 in 2014 and 49.48 in 2015.
In 2016, however, the Grade 6 MPS plummeted to 42.03 or by a gap of 28.85, while the Grade 10 students registered a performance of 43.93 or a difference of 5.55 MPS from their 2015 performance.
Two DepEd officials said the decline in the NAT scores could be due to the framing of the questions in line with the K to 12 program’s emphasis on 21st century skills learning.
In a letter to this correspondent reacting to the article “Cheating in National Test Bared by DepEd” (The Manila Times, Sept. 9, 2018), then-Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Lorna Dig Dino said the change in the design of the NAT, whereby it specifically tested the 21st century skills as opposed to the “previous assessment framework which was profoundly competency-based,” was among the factors that “most probably contributed to the low MPS.”
In the questioned article, a public high school teacher alleged that the yawning gaps between the Grade 6 average MPS of 2016 and 2017, and those of previous NATs were a confirmation of the massive fraud, which used to attend the examinations in the past.
The teacher also explained that the 2016 and 2017 NATs were administered at the start of the following school year instead of at the end of the current school year, which in the case of the Grade 6 NAT meant that the takers were in high school and, therefore, cut off from what she called a “system of assistance available to them in their elementary schools.”
In the email, Dino expressed the DepEd’s vehement denial that the losses in the 2016 and 2017 NATs were solid proofs of the alleged dishonesty previously attending the tests.
She said DepEd policies intended to combat cheating and curb irregularities in the conduct of tests, and added that sections 10 and 13 of DepEd Order 55 series of 2016 were being strictly implemented and that isolated cases of irregularities were being dealt with swiftly once reported.
Dino said among the factors that “most probably contributed to the low MPS” was the shift in the design of the 2017 NAT, whereby it specifically tested the 21st century skills, namely problem-solving, information literacy and critical thinking of the students, as opposed to the “previous assessment framework which was profoundly competency-based, or meaning, it is based on the Basic Education Curriculum.”
“While the current NAT is progressive in nature, wherein the items measure varying levels of skills, the previous NAT were based on curriculum content,” Dino said.
In the same vein, the memorandum of Bureau of Education Assessment Director Nelia Benito — which released the results of the 2017 NAT to the regional offices — dated Sept. 21, 2018, had mentioned the difference of the 2017 NAT with that of the of previous editions of the examinations.
“The 2017 NAT result is a baseline assessment data measuring the 21st century skills. Hence, comparing the results to the previous NAT results is inappropriate,” the memorandum said.
Octavio Cabasag, head of the DepEd Region 2 Curriculum and Learning Management Division, who provided a copy of the memorandum to this correspondent, said the memorandum specifically refers to the 2017 NAT because the previous NATs gauged the competency of the takers in the subject areas.
The DepEd calendars for School Years 2012-2013 to 2016-2017, however, stated that the NAT would assess the attainment of 21st century skills, which meant that even if the calendars were not followed as far as the content of the NAT was concerned, the skills were being taught before 2017.
Meanwhile, this correspondent had requested under the Freedom of Information Act, for the 2018 NAT results of all regions. The DepEd Public Assistance Action Center acknowledged it on June 18, but the request has not yet been granted to date. On September 12, he called the Bureau of Educational Assessment to which the request was forwarded, and was told by a certain Tam that the document is ready but is still awaiting the signatures of Curriculum and Instruction Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio and Undersecretary Nepomuceno Maluluan.
Regional Memorandum 157, series of 2019, was posted in the DepEd CAR website on May 27, 2019, which means that the document was already available at the time of the request.
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