The Department of Education (DepEd) Monday prohibited all regions and divisions in the public school system beginning school year 2012-2013 from using assessment tools aside from the National Achievement Test (NAT) when gauging students' performances.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro said that discontinuing the conduct of all scheduled Regional Achievement Tests (RAT) and Division Achievement Tests (DAT) is in line "with the transition phase in the implementation of the K-to-12 Basic Education Curriculum."
Through DepEd Order No. 7, series of 2012, Luistro formally ordered schools to discontinue conducting the regional and division achievement tests and declared that the NAT held March every year "shall be the sole assessment tool that will be recognized in measuring the performance of pupils and students attributing to the performance of individual schools, municipalities, congressional districts, schools in city divisions, provinces, and regions."
Conduct of any other school assessments, Luistro added, "must be properly coordinated with the Office of the Secretary through the Undersecretary for Programs and Projects."
Earlier, Luistro also ordered changes in the conduct of the NAT to make it more in line with the K-to-12 curriculum. Starting March this year, NAT will be taken by fourth year high school students both in public and private schools, instead of second year high school students.
Luistro said that in this year's NAT, "fourth year high school students will take the exam to give us feedback on the students' knowledge gain after the ten-year basic education cycle." The result, he added, will also be used as input for the K to 12 program.
Aside from fourth year students, NAT will also be taken by Grade 3 pupils of public schools, Madrasah schools and pilot schools of mother tongue-based multi-lingual education.
The NAT, administered by NETRC, is given toward the end of each school year to gauge the academic performance in key subjects of elementary and secondary students in both public and private schools.
The DepEd is also set to conduct a pre-NAT seminar workshop to ensure the security of the test materials and to set the rules in the administration of the NAT. Luistro said that the seminar is to be attended by division testing coordinators and private school supervisors "for the smooth conduct of the test and put safeguards to ensure the integrity of the exam."
Luistro, through DepEd Memorandum No. 266 series of 2011 said that superintendents and heads of public and private elementary and secondary schools should be oriented in the "proper conduct of the test, security of test materials, delivery and retrieval schemes, as well as allocation of test materials."
Controversies continue to hound the administration of the NAT every year. Last March, six erring school officials in Region 1 have been suspended on the alleged leakage in Pangasinan. Luistro said that DepEd continues to wait for reports from other schools that allegedly committed the cheatings.
"To ensure the smooth conduct of NAT and avoid alleged cases of cheating, local education stakeholders such as local government units, civic groups and non-government organizations will be part of the NAT monitoring group," Luistro said.
--Courtesy of Manila Bulletin