DepEd thumbs down 'pass or fail' grading for distance learning
Teachers at Jose Dela Peña National High School in Marikina City undergo webinar training on e-learning on July 21, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
DepEd thumbs down 'pass or fail' grading for distance learning
( - August 25, 2020 - 11:17am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education on Monday rejected a "pass or fail" grading system proposed by a teachers' group for distance learning.

This was revealed by both Education Secretary Leonor Briones and Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio, with Briones saying that the department had been debating the implementation of the grading system as early as March, at the onset of the pandemic.

"If we will do non-graded system for reporting the progress of our learners, it will also mean additional work for our fellow teachers which we do not like to impose at this moment because they will be studying a new system," San Antonio said in a mix of English and Filipino

He further argued against the proposal forwarded by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers by saying a non-numerical grading scheme would still require teachers to compute for their students' performance.

"In addition to this, for colleges and universities, when they choose scholars for the next school year, what will be the basis? We also at the Special Curricular Programs have grade requirements for students, so what will our basis be? So this is why we see numerical rating is the more suitable option even with COVID-19," he added in Filipino.

Briones further argued that implementing a "pass or fail" grading scheme would be to the detriment of the country's performance at the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development initiative which assesses 15-year-old students across 79 countries.

The Philippines ranked in the low 70s during the PISA 2018.

'Global competitiveness the least of our concerns at this time'

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers on Monday afternoon said DepEd's decision to maintain the old grading scheme "misses the whole point" of their 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. It is a conscious acceptance of the intrinsic inferiorities of distance learning modalities compared to classroom learning," ACT said.

"It is a fairer metrics of students' performance who will surely and understandably get less from the inputs through distance learning modalities. It is a concrete move to temporarily stall, if not finally address the unhealthy culture of individualistic competition in education."

The group further accused DepEd of prioritizing "global competitiveness, scholarship requirements, and their misguided concepts of motivation and excellence" over what they called the more immediate concerns presented by the pandemic.

"Global competitiveness is the least of our concerns at this time. Scholarship requirements can and should be adjusted. 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." — Bella Perez-Rubio

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