DepEd ALS test should also be in PH languages–Siao

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Rep. Frederick Siao.

THE Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) tests should not just be in English but also in Filipino, Cebuano and other local dialects, according to Iligan City Rep. Frederick W. Siao.

Siao made the call following the repeat of the ALS exam given in November as some of the questions in that exam were changed to English.

Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones said the sudden use of English instead of Filipino in the tests on Math and Science last November resulted in a number of examinees failing to pass the test.

The Department repeated the exam Sunday and on March 11 and lowered the passing grade from 75 percent to 60 percent to be fair to give the examinees who failed another chance to pass the test.

“I commend Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones for taking swift and decisive action on the injustice committed against learners who took the ALS accreditation and equivalency last November but failed to pass it because of, among others, the sudden use of English instead of Filipino in the tests on Math and Science,” Siao said in a statement on Sunday.

“Secretary Briones was right in lowering the passing rate from 75 percent to 60 percent because the test last November 2017 was more difficult than previous tests.” said Siao.

The congressman also said that Briones proved yet again her integrity and courage as an educator when she admitted, on behalf of the DepEd, that the test given last November was “impaired” in terms of fairness.

Siao urged Briones to issue a written reprimand to the DepEd officials and personnel responsible for subjecting the ALS examinees to the injustice, not mere unfairness, of the test they took last year.

“Those officials are supposed to be highly educated and highly trained, yet they failed to serve the public, the examinees in particular, with FAIRNESS,” said Siao in a statement.

Siao appealed to Briones to direct the DepEd personnel under her to have the Math and Science tests in Filipino, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Cebuano and other major mother tongues or languages of the Philippines, so that the ALS examinees can understand the questions and respond accordingly.

The DepEd can enlist the technical support of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino and the Surian ng Wikang Filipino in coming up with test questionnaires written in the said dialects.

Siao said he will support a budget for the purpose if needed.

Based on Briones’ evaluation, in consultation with all relevant officers and personnel, the following are the contributory factors that made the November 2017 ALS test more difficult than the previous ones, and impaired the fairness of the test:

1. The language used in test questions for Math and Science were changed from Filipino in the previous tests to English in the current test. The negative impact of this was very pronounced in the elementary level examination.

2. The time gap between the time of completion of ALS interventions and the current test was prolonged because of a number of postponements in test administration.

3. There was a change in the technical reference of, as well as significant increase in, the passing score for the test.

4. An initial comparison of the test questions show a higher degree of difficulty in the present test than the previous one.

5. There were shortcomings in adequately communicating the assessment changes to ALS implementers.

In response, Briones said, “Given the above, I am announcing the change in the passing score from 75% correct answers (relative to total test questions) to 60% correct answers in the November 2017 A&E Test. This is to align the present test with previous standards, as well as to mitigate the unfairness to the examinees brought about by the circumstances mentioned. This same passing score shall be applied to the March 4 and 11, 2018 A&E Test.”

A 60% passing score in examinations is generally acceptable, said Briones.

The November 2017 A&E examinees who still did not make the new passing score shall be allowed to take the March 4 and 11, 2018 A&E Test as walk-in examinees, provided they accomplish the required registration documents at the site immediately prior to taking the exam, she said.

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