Of Grading Systems and Students


“The Effects of the New Grading System to the Study Habits of Students …”

Thus was the title of my master’s thesis 12 years ago when the Zero is to Zero Grading System was introduced. I found out that it did make the students study more and strive more to meet the requirements to pass their subjects.

Then I became a teacher. For 12 years I taught different grade levels in high school and I’ve seen how the grading system in the Philippines changed many times. We had the Zero is to Zero where the passing was even lowered to 70%; then the Descriptive Grading System where there were grades falling under Mastery Level, Nearing Mastery, Developing and Below Mastery; now we have the Transmuted Grading System where a score of zero is equal to 60%; 60% is transmuted to 75%; and 84% is transmuted to 90%; and where an average of 90% is with honors.

Our curriculum changed a lot, too. We had the RBEC (Revised Basic Education Curriculum), the UBD (Understanding By Design) then EBEC (Enhanced Basic Education Curriculum) then the K to 12 Curriculum which now includes the Senior High School.

As perpetual as the changes seem, so are the students. They are becoming more high tech, stressed, depressed and bored. Although some benefit using their gadgets to learn in their researches, in downloading needed learning materials and picking up a lot of skills that may not be taught in school, many have been addicted to computer games and even pornography which are detrimental to their health and studies. Student culture has changed from behaved and obedient to defiant and less caring. They complain a lot about school.

The Grading System now where 60% is transmuted to 75% almost means that all students will pass. And yet many students have to undergo remediation activities in order to pass. Has formal education stop being the key to success? Is it now burdensome and getting in the way of these students’ dreams?

In a competitive world going more high tech every day, perhaps our educational system is not evolving fast enough to stay updated and relevant to these millennial students. We still have problems such as lack of books, classrooms, ICT tools and other teaching and learning materials. Teachers struggle to cope with this high tech generation, taking the initiative to address these educational problems but many times even our best is not enough.

The Philippines is still rated poor in education compared to other countries. They say that the curriculum in the Philippines is one of the most loaded in the world. While we stay in school for eight hours from 7:30 until 4:30, the top performing schools around the world spend less time in their classrooms. There are so many competencies in our curriculum that we should accomplish, and there are also a lot of class suspensions due to unavoidable circumstances.

I’m sure there will be more changes in our education system and I’m hoping for an education system that focuses on enhancing the strengths of students so that they will become the best versions of themselves. I’m looking forward to a time when students are free to choose their subjects depending on their interests, talents, skills and capabilities after they already learn how to read and write and perform basic math. Then teachers will have no problem motivating them.

There will be less friction in the classroom and a lot of synergy.  Students will be less stressed and less depressed with school. They would be excited especially if there would be more immersions. There will be no failures and their grades would be very high.

It’s really nice to dream of a new Education System that addresses what we were born to become in this world. Meantime, we continue to face reality and as the saying goes, “Do your best and God will do the rest.”