PBEd urges government to confront education woes on mass promotion

Incoming college students take the West Visayas State University entrance exam in March 2023. (Photo courtesy of Forum-Dimensions)

The Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to address issues on mass promotion and lack of proper assessment in schools, which have a detrimental impact on employment and industries, before his State of the Nation Address.

PBEd pointed out that the learning gap caused by these practices leads to a lack of mastery in fundamental skills among students, affecting their employability upon graduation.

“Our learners are not truly learning, but merely progressing through the school system. Without a strong foundation in education, our workforce becomes less competitive on the global stage. It hinders innovation, productivity, and economic growth, limiting our potential for progress and prosperity,” PBEd Executive Director Justine Raagas said during the organization’s Annual Membership Meeting on Monday, May 29.

In the said event held at Shangri-La The Fort, Manila, PBEd presented its State of Education report gathered from its roundtable discussions and consultations with education stakeholders all over the country.

PBEd discussed that many of their participants misunderstood the “No Child Left Behind” concept, which led teachers to promote all students regardless of their grades and competencies, despite the absence of an official mandate from the Department of Education.

“Participants across all education sectors were in unanimous agreement that one of the underlying causes of poor student learning outcomes was the unspoken but common practice of automatic or mass promotion,” Raagas said.

The flawed connection between student outcomes and the performance-based bonus  awarded to teachers, as well as the school’s ranking in the region, led to the perception that teachers have no alternative but to ensure the promotion of all their students.

Participants lamented that they would be held responsible not only for their students’ failures, but also for the consequences of retaining or failing underperforming students.

PBEd’s state of education report stated that the practice of mass promotion not only hampers students’ mastery of fundamental skills but also leads to behavioral issues including disobedience and recklessness.

“Learning recovery should be the key approach to address learning gaps. We urge the government to ensure that teachers are equipped with the necessary resources and support to effectively engage in reteaching and conduct remediation,” Raagas said.

Moreover, these interventions are impeded due to lack of proper assessments, preventing accurate evaluation of student performance.

PBEd emphasized the importance of implementing effective evaluation mechanisms that promote merit-based progression, ensuring that students acquire the essential competencies to advance to the next grade level and, ultimately, to secure employment.

“Timely evaluation of a student’s performance is necessary for learning and improvement as it will give both teacher and learner a way to catch up  without automatically retaining or failing students,” Raagas emphasized.

The localized assessment of learning loss and diagnostic pre-tests per subject were identified as crucial prerequisites for contextualizing remedial measures and updating the curriculum.

PBEd shared that teachers are also dissatisfied with the National Achievement Test, as it is often viewed as a mere competition for high scores rather than a tool for accurately identifying learning levels and determining necessary interventions.

“By addressing the learning crisis, the administration can secure a competitive edge for industries and employers, fostering a workforce equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary for economic growth. PBEd stands ready to collaborate with the administration, offering expertise and resources to support the implementation of transformative reforms,” Raagas stressed.