Saturday, October 01, 2016

Zero drop out and zero bonux and the new currency

I was browsing my FB when I saw posts from subject coordinators reminding concerned teachers of the deadline for the second quarter tests. I scratched my head. wasn't it just a few days ago that we had our first quarter examinations?

Christmas decors are already hanging in the hallways and in the classrooms and Jose Marie Chan now owns the airwaves. What's the rush?

Anyway, I have been to a few inter-school and inter-district competitions and though there are more misses than hits, our school have its share of winners. Being one of the coaches in the school, I am used to being awarded a piece of paper as a prize (and as form of consolation when my ward loses) by the contest facilitators with the school principales telling us teachers that we could use this document for our Result based Performance Management Shalalalala (or RPMS) evaluation. 

So, the lower part of the Department has been spewing out certificates, which it has done even before the implementation of RPMS, but this time with fury, and now these paper seemed to have become a sort of currency within the department. The things is I usually insert my certificates in whatever book is on my table. So, usually I ended with a few missing only to find them inserted in text books when the year ends, during general cleaning.

I don't know exactly how the RPMS works in education because unlike any other departments in the gov't, education has a lot of intangibles and factors beyond the teacher's control. It's not as if teachers are building structures where an inspector could measure the output to the dot to check for compliance. Not teaching because teachers deal with human beings. 

But the system was adapted and we were oriented on how it works, the documentary part is fair enough because efficiency in records management is very important but aside from the fundamentals there are other criteria that is if implemented would be discriminatory and could be discouraging for the teachers.

Image result for shame sculpture

Let me cite a specific example. In the RPMS one of the checklist in the matrix is the number of drop outs in the school. Many school heads noticed that schools who reported zero drop outs achieved a higher performance rating which translated to a higher performance based bonus. 

The thing about zero drop out is that small schools with a hundred or less enrolees could achieve a hundred percent zero drop out, but for a central school with thousands of enrollment, the statistics alone make it highly improbable (even impossible) to achieve a zero drop out. 

Naturally, some school heads analyzed the result of the RPMS and realized that a reported zero drop out improved a school ranking came up with an ingenious solution on the problem of drop outs and that is to report pupil who dropped out as failed pupils.  

When I heard about the plan, I was dumbfounded and so was my co-teachers for reasons. First, pupils dropping out of school is usually not a teacher factor. In our experience there are five main reasons for drop outs in the class: 

1. Financial challenges,  the parents have no means to support their children's studies so one or two have to stop temporarily.

Image result for filipino family problem2. Relationship in the Family. Either one of the parents is an OFW, or the parents have separated, etc. Pupils stopped going to school because they lack parental supervision and at times have lost their interest in their studies because of this.

3. The pupil is over age.

4. No interest in schools for whatever reasons.

5. Bullying.

All of these are factors that are not controlled by the teachers. except number five. Though teachers can initiate interventions but in the end it is still the pupils and the parents who will decide whether their children continue schooling. 

Image result for genius

But failure is a different thing. Failing a pupil is undeniably and directly a teacher factor. When our school was still using the homogeneous sectioning of pupils, I was assigned to the last section, the worst group of pupils, it was a stigma really. I thought I was doing a good job when I fail a pupil or two. But when the principal asked me why my pupil failed, I reasoned that they did not meet the competency. The principal replied, "What have you done in a year?" The message is clear: your pupil's failure is your failure. I have kept that in mind. Anyway, I was surprised to see that some of the pupils I almost failed were doing well in high school some even ranking in the top ten of their classes.

What happened to the "zero-dropm out scheme"? It was implemented in the school and we ended up, I think, with one of the highest reported failed pupils in the division but we achieved a reported zero  pupil drop out. Now, why am I not excited about the coming performance based bonus this October....Hmmmm.

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