DepEd defends award system under K-12 amid questions of medals overflow

The current awards and recognition system in elementary and high schools, as part of the Kindergarten to Grade 12 basic education program, is helping students focus on their academic growth and reducing the pressure of competition, according to an official from the Department of Education (DepEd).

DepEd Assistant Secretary Francis Cesar Bringas mentioned in a recent radio interview that the new awards system encourages all learners to strive for success, not just the top 10 students in the class. This comes as social media criticism mounts over the excessive distribution of academic awards during graduation ceremonies, despite Filipino students’ poor performance in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Bringas emphasized that PISA uses different criteria to evaluate countries compared to the parameters used in school awards. The latest PISA results from 2022 revealed that Filipino students are lagging behind their international peers by five to six years in learning competencies, placing the Philippines near the bottom at 76th out of 81 countries.

Since the K-12 program’s launch in 2016, the education system has done away with traditional distinctions like “valedictorian” and “salutatorian.” Instead, students now receive awards based on their average grades. The top achievers with grades ranging from 98 to 100 are honored with the “with highest honors” award.

While the new system has been lauded for promoting self-improvement and reducing cutthroat competition among students, the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC) believes there should be a review to ensure consistent grading standards. TDC’s national chairperson, Benjo Basas, called for more defined criteria to evaluate students, pointing out that grades are not solely based on exam scores but also on subjective factors like art projects, performances, and communication skills.

Overall, the shift in the awards system aims to foster a more inclusive and growth-focused environment in schools, prioritizing personal improvement over intense competition among students.

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