The National Achievement Test: An Honest Question

EVERY YEAR the Department of Education‘s National Education Testing and Research Center (NETRC) administers the National Achievement Test in the elementary and secondary levels. It seeks to assess the competencies learned by the students in the subjects, English, Science, Mathematics, Filipino, and Araling Panlipunan.


The Department of Education utilizes the results of the exam to evaluate whether the schools are effective in teaching the standard competencies set by the department. The results should also guide the administrators and the teachers in planning learning interventions for the students.

Here is how the Mean Percentage Score (MPS) is interpreted:

  • 75% and above indicates mastery of the subject
  • 50% to less than 75% indicates near mastery
  • Below 50% indicates low mastery

In the past years, our school have an MPS that is above mastery. However, our administrators do not find it sufficient. Being a Science High School, we are being pressured to reach up to 90% or even higher, if possible.

Why the pressure? They fear that other schools would have an MPS that is higher than ours.

And then it happened. A school in a far-flung area had a higher MPS than our school in the Regional Achievement Test. How could that happen?

A few years ago, most schools recorded very high increase in their MPS. Some schools had increased their MPS by more than a 100%, while we decreased by about 8%. Statistically improbable right?

Then we begin to question the reliability of the National Achievement Test. I am not the first person to criticize the test and I don’t have material evidence to claim that there really are irregularities in the conduct of the test. But I know the intention of some school administrators why they’d like to manipulate the results of the test.

First, the NAT is viewed as a tool that measures the school’s effectiveness. If the school does not perform well in the NAT then they are rendered ineffective. Who would want to be labelled ineffective?

Secondly, administrators compete against each other. Even if they already get an acceptable MPS in the past years, they have to make sure that they are on top of other schools, divisions, or regions. Highly competitive ones would really do their best to attain their goals by hook or by crook.

Whatever the reasons, I believe that it is never good to cheat in the NAT. How could the DepEd gauge the true performance of the students that is indicative of the effectiveness of the current system of teaching in the schools? How could we design appropriate learning interventions if we don’t have an accurate picture of the situation in the schools? What values do we, educators, exemplify to our students if we ourselves do not ensure honesty in the administration of the NAT?

The NAT 2011 will be administered on March 10. I hope and pray that it will be carried out honestly this time.

Ariel Lalisan

Ariel Lalisan

Ariel Lalisan is a physics teacher at Alabel National Science High School. He is an advocate of constructivism approach in education. He employs active learning and independent learning in his lessons, and, of course, a lot of technology integration. His goal is to produce students who can solve problems on their own using the concepts they learn in the classroom. Ariel Lalisan is a Google Certified Innovator (Google Teachers Academy Southeast Asia 2014) and a community leader at Google Educator Group Sarangani. He is a co-founder of SoCCSKSarGen and he won the Globe Media Excellence Blogger of the Year Award in 2015.

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9 thoughts on “The National Achievement Test: An Honest Question

  1. achievement test like these should be given to all schools at the same day and time to avoid irregularities.some schools already have the answers to the questions which are given by the school teachers…with this,the result is ineffective

  2. The key word in your article is that the result of the test is statistically improbable, yes there are cheating!. You are still lucky you belong to a school which is gifted with complete facilities, teachers and classroom , i presumed. it is expected that you will get higher score than those unlucky ones,which have these problems: luck of teachers classroom and facilities. What i wish is that before the government imposed such standards, these problems will have to be meet first, otherwise we performing below the standards. One thing more, students do not want to be bothered by this kind of exam if they if their chances of going up in higher college is nil due to extreme poverty.

  3. Dear brothers and sisters in the education field,
    although the NAT is thoroughly validated by experts, it is still a teacher made test. we cannot justify extreme perfection of test but experts give credit to the reliability and basis of the test based on the norms of achievement of students and requirements set by the curriculum to be assessed. there are available info about how the NAT is developed. even if a Science High School is a SCIENCE HIGH SCHOOL, it does not mean it is statistically improbable that a small community school can outperform your school. the general performance is simply based on the average reach of the test takers of a certain school. for example, in a small school, if 50 students averaged highly on the NAT, while in a school of 1500, 500 got to the top percentile rank, the general performance could still be inconclusive because we try to generalize. you can only be conclusive of the claims if you will use parametric and/or non parametric tests. and that would be tedious on the part of NETRC. so I recommend you try to limit your population, say, your district. analyze it scientifically and then show and prove that you performed well.

    1. Thanks for your comment sir. This article is not making judgment. It is asking a question. Thanks for your opinion. It will surely shed some light on the curious minds of teachers who are making similar observations.

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