Why our students are doing poorly in school


    EXACTLY a year ago, the nation’s education sector was pricked with the news that the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) showed that Filipinos lagged behind their counterparts in other countries and in the region, especially in the three basic subjects.

    It was reported by PISA that the Philippines ranked lowest in reading comprehension and second lowest in science and mathematics out of 79 countries that participated in the international assessment of the performance of 15-year-old students.

    It has been a year since the PISA study was made known, yet the only “action” we felt was Education Secretary Leonor Briones’ comment that she was not surprised with the results, as they had expected that assessment to reflect the performance of Filipino students in the National Achievement Tests. It goes without saying that this performance was below satisfactory.

    ‘In fact, in the September 2019 LET, 445 schools had zero passing rate.’

    Briones explained that it was the first time that the country participated in PISA, and with this participation, we will be able to “establish our baseline in relation to global standards, and benchmark the effectiveness of our reforms moving forward.” We barely saw this effectiveness, and the moving forward that she mentioned was more or less moving backward.

    Students from our neighbors Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia scored better than Filipinos. Students from Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang in China topped the assessment in reading, math, and science, overtaking Singapore that led the 2015 round of assessment which is taken every three years.

    It was reported in the Senate last week that one reason our students are lagging is that our very own teachers are themselves doing poorly. Sen. Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate higher education committee, lamented that the average passing rate in Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET) over a period of 11 years only stood at about 30 percent.

    In fact, in the September 2019 LET, 445 schools had zero passing rate. In touting that third-party experts should be allowed to look into the problem, Villanueva said: “We want to be realistic, unbiased, and to look at the whole picture. Thirty percent passing rate is not OK, since more than 100,000 pass every year. In 2019, out of 386,840 examinees, a total of 147,353 passed the LET, while 239,487 examinees failed.”

    The senator proposed that the Professional Regulation Commission should allow partner agencies and institutions to look into the LET and solve its supposed mismatch with the DepEd’s Philippine professional standards for teachers (PPST) and the teachers’ education curriculum.

    This proposal is well taken and should be adopted if only to make the plight of our teachers and students a little better. It is, however, just a small step in the huge effort to uplift our standards in education.