FAILING a learner based on the assessment tools set by the Department of Education (DepEd) is not denying him/her of the opportunity to move up. It means that education in the country abides to a standard we call quality education. A failing grade allows a learner to be aware of his/her weaknesses as a student for him/her to make necessary improvements. It is neither trying to leave him/her behind as what others may think (failing is against the “no child left behind policy”) or putting him/her down.
A student who receives a failing a grade before usually is being blamed for the negligence or for the lack of effort. Today administration blames the teachers, not the students for the negligence and lack of effort per se. When students fail in their outputs, teachers conduct interventions which are ideal. When they get absent, teachers conduct conferences with the students and parents depending on the gravity of the case.
If parents or guardians fail to appear after being summoned for a conference, teachers do home visitations. These are the common intervention strategies of teachers to save the students at risk of failing and dropping. Are these activities painstaking? Of course, yes! The problem is these interventions work for some but may not for others so the teachers would formulate or conduct different intervention remedies.
Intervention activities work on students who have interest in studying. They might obtained a low score in a written exam because they did not understand the lesson or they were distracted during the discussions. They may have incurred several absences because they were sick or convinced by peers to skip classes. The bottom line is, they may have falter a bit but they still value education.
For others who do not see the importance of education, effort in teaching or conducting several interventions may not be enough. In such cases, I presume we can no longer blame the teachers when they fail students. Some students even after several conferences do not attend class. What would teachers do? So we cannot force our teachers to pass these students.
Failing a student after exerting all efforts by the teachers is not against the “education for all policy” or the “no child left behind policy.” Education for all has nothing to do with failing there is a sufficient basis. Failing in these cases is more of a help to the students. “Education is for all. What the United Nations says is that no one should be left behind in progress and in education and in health,” Briones told reporters in Filipino. The secretary was talking about providing alternative means of accessing education especially for out of school youths and dropped out students. That is why we have the Alternative Learning System (ALS).
In our school we have the Open High School Program (OHSP). We send a bad message to learners and create a problematic educational system when we pass students who only visited the school during quarterly examination days or those who appear of the fourth grading months. It is too absurd. It is neither mercy nor compassion. It is devaluing the quality of education and lowering its standard.
One fear of administrators and teachers in giving failing grade is that students may hurt themselves. Recently, one student in a big high school in the city attempted to jump from the fourth floor of the high school building. The student allegedly was not sure to graduate because of a failing grade. Three teachers grabbed the student while she was being distracted by others. Is the teacher who gave the failing grade accountable for the incident? Certainly not.
The student has a problem in managing her emotions. Concerned adults must concentrate in helping the student to manage her emotion properly and not convince the teacher to pass her/him. The student will face more daunting challenges in the future and there will be no more teachers to blame so the students should start to understand the role of failures in life. If not corrected, she will look for people to blame once confronted by problems and does not try to remedy them.
Teachers pass students because they acquired the competencies for that level. If we let students move to a higher grade level without enough knowledge on these competencies, the more they will be confused. Again it is not helping. Oftentimes we convince ourselves that these students will wake up someday to get serious once they advance in age so we just pass them without any effort on their part. We know, however, that we are wrong in letting them pass.
Why do we have incompetent workers and employees? It is because they do not possess the required knowledge and skill to do their job. Everyone is affected. School is supposed to prepare them to be better prepared for life but we teach them to cheat their way to graduation. Passing undeserving students should not be done for our selfish motives because we compromise the quality of education. It should not be for the sake of an outstanding performance so we force teachers not to fail.
We assess the knowledge and performance of the students to adhere to quality education. In assessing there is always a passing rate. Students who pass this grade means they are qualified to move up and those who fail means they still need to acquire competencies. If we stick on this system, students will realize that there need to give effort to pass.
Teachers assess based on the capability and effort of the students. If they fail they can reenroll again so it is not leaving them behind. It is to teach them that there is no shortcut to success. If we do this, we do not only keep the standard of quality education, we also help the students grow as human beings.