My Thoughts on the Unified Examination

THE DIVISION of Sarangani implements this process for the periodical exams:

  1. The division supervisors prepare the exam.
  2. The school principal (or a representative) secures a soft copy of the exam from the division office.
  3. The school reproduces the exam.
  4. The teacher administers the exam.
As you can see, this process simplifies the work of the subject teacher. He doesn’t have to create his own exam. I have several problems with it, though. Let me take them one by one.

Student-Centered or Subject-Centered?

Are we not supposed to tailor our teaching to the kind of students we have? That was what we were taught in teacher education programs. Each student learn differently. Students in downtown schools have a different learning patterns compared to those in far-flung barangays. Did we not encourage the indigenization of the curriculum? Teachers, therefore, must given a free hand to craft their strategies in teaching and assessment to meet their students’ learning needs at the pace of the students.

With the unified exam, the teachers are somehow pressured to cover all the competencies listed for a particular grading period regardless of whether the students learn the correct concepts very well or not, in the rush to teach all there is in the list of competencies. Whatever happened to Thorndike’s law of readiness and practice? That does not sound student-centered.

Congested Curriculum

I have already written about how congested is the basic education curriculum and the DepEd acknowledges it in the K-12 concept paper, where it said that one of the reasons for the curriculum revision is to decongest it. That means, there is really a possibility that the competencies expected to be taught cannot be covered within the school year.

The unified examination presumes that all the competencies budgeted for the grading period are taught by the teacher. I don’t have the actual facts, but if I go around the schools in the division and ask the physics teachers, I am sure that they haven’t covered all there is in the list of competencies.

I was once asked to be a demonstration teacher in physics in Region XII. I was asked to present a strategy in teaching the least learned competencies identifies through the Regional Achievement Test. The topic was about radio communication. When I asked the teachers why they think their students did not understand the concept very well, they said, they have not taught like all topics set for the last quarter.

It is therefore not fair to assess the students on concepts that are taught.

Burden on the Supervisor

We only have one supervisor per subject area. The supervisor is tasked to prepare the exams for all year levels. Not that I underestimate the capability of the supervisors, how can they prepare all those exams with the assurance that those exams contain good questions? A Biology major can be expected to prepare really good questions for Science II, but would you expect her to write very good questions for Physics?

Even my students could attest that the questions in the exam are not very well crafted. They contain some misconceptions and typographical and syntactical errors. That might be because preparing the exams for all levels — especially now that they are no longer in the classroom — is too much work for them.

Help teachers improve testing and assessment practices

Although the division office enforces the use of the exams prepared by the supervisors, chances are some teachers do not use it. Logic would tell us that if the teacher was not able to teach students the concept included in one item, he would not count it as part of the test, to be fair with the students. The ink and space allotted for that questions, therefore, are put to waste.

My suggestion is this: instead of enforcing a unified exam, the teachers should be helped in enriching their test bank. The seminar on test construction was a good start. We just a need a more intensive training with the addition of standards-based assessment and rating system.

On the matter of ensuring that the budgeted competencies are taught, intensify the supervision of classroom instruction by the school principal. Visit school more often. Talk to teachers more often about classroom instruction and management and help them.

That, I guess, would yield better results.




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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