Sec. Briones with RCTQ Director Dr. Gina Gonong and SiMERR National Research Centre Director Prof. John Pegg at the Celebrating RCTQ Partnerships event in August 2019.

Since Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones assumed the leadership of the Department of Education (DepEd) in 2016, the Department has been working on aggressive reforms to respond to the urgency of improving the quality of basic education in the Philippines. RCTQ has consistently supported DepEd’s pivot from access to quality of education since it started flagging education quality as its biggest challenge.

In 2019, after the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results were released, DepEd launched its Sulong EduKalidad campaign to introduce education reforms in four areas: 1) upskilling teachers and school leaders through a transformed professional development program; (2) review and updating of curriculum; (3) continuous improvement of the learning environment; and (4) multi-stakeholder cooperation. RCTQ was among DepEd’s partners that rallied behind Sulong EduKalidad focusing on the upskilling of teachers and school leaders through successive technical assistance to DepEd’s training arm—the National Educators Academy of the Philippines (NEAP).  The collaboration of the two organizations is expected to bring the country’s quality of education to new heights, departing from the learners’ performance as reported by the PISA and other international assessments.

RCTQ has been collaborating with DepEd NEAP led by Director IV Mr. John Siena to develop professional learning packages (PLPs) for teachers that aim to provide support materials for teachers in Grades 7 and 8, and Grades 9 and 10 to help them develop the higher order thinking skills (HOTS) of their students in Mathematics, Science and English/Reading.  The materials will specifically improve learners’ ability to apply the knowledge they gained in formal education to everyday situations.

RCTQ, in 2018, worked on the NEAP Transformation Study, in response to the request from the Secretary to support teacher professional development, which became the basis for the creation of a task force and the subsequent development of the new NEAP design.

Professional development for teachers is anchored on the Philippine Professional Standards for Teachers (PPST), which DepEd developed in collaboration with RCTQ in 2017.  Now embedded in DepEd’s Results-based Performance Management System (RPMS) for teachers, this set of standards allows teacher performance to be rated based on the what teachers are truly expected to do – to teach. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center helped DepEd find alternative tools for its RPMS so that teachers can adapt and respond more quickly to circumstances associated with the pandemic, and ensure that learning is delivered despite the health crisis.

“Among school-related factors, teachers are the ones that matter most when it comes to a student’s academic performance. When fully operationalized from pre-service to in-service teacher practice, the PPST provides standards that empower teachers in improving learner performance even in difficult circumstances, including coping with the challenges of a health pandemic,” RCTQ Director Dr. Gina Gonong said.

Since the inception of the DepEd Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development (BHROD) in 2016, it has laid the groundwork for a high-performing organization by strengthening its human capital. Major initiatives of the bureau include the integration of the PPST in all of the HR systems including the Results-Based Performance Management System (RPMS) and in its Learning and Development (L&D) for teachers. Data gathered from the use of PPST-based assessment tools for teachers are expected to inform policies on teacher hiring, promotion and/or career progression, teacher professional development, and rewards and recognition. RCTQ works with the BHROD under the leadership of Director IV Atty. Anne Rachel Miguel and Director III Dr. Jennifer Lopez towards these initiatives.

To complement the PPST that now guides more than 800,000 teachers, the Philippine Professional Standards for School Heads (PPSSH) and the Philippine Professional Standards for Supervisors (PPSS) were developed in 2020 through RCTQ. The three sets of standards provide a common language on the professional development, career continuum, and performance management of teachers and school leaders. RCTQ’s technical assistance in operationalizing these standards was stipulated in DepEd Order No. 11, s. 2019.

Organizations aiming to provide services to NEAP will be better guided with the formulation of NEAP authorization and recognition forms and tools, and the establishment of a mechanism on granting professional development credit units to NEAP-recognized professional development programs and courses for teachers and school leaders.

“With the new NEAP design, there will be no indiscriminate delivery (or bagsakan) of training activities in divisions and schools as professional development programs will become more programmatic, streamlined, financially efficient, and will use various modalities depending on the needs of the regions, divisions and schools,” DepEd Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Atty. Nepomuceno Malaluan said.

“With a transformed neap, teachers and school leaders will have purposeful professional development opportunities that will consequently equip them with competence for professional fulfillment and success,” said Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio.

To date, RCTQ assisted NEAP in the development and implementation of the following PD-related policies: DepEd Order 001, s. 2020 or the Guidelines for the Recognition of NEAP Professional Development Programs and Courses for Teachers and School Leaders and DepEd Memorandum 050, s. 2020 or the DepEd Professional Development Priorities for Teachers and School Leaders for School Year 2020-2023). RCTQ has also helped rework the Teacher Induction Program (TIP) for newly-hired teachers, and develop a framework and prototypes for Career Advancement Programs (CAPRO).

At the gala event that celebrated RCTQ’s seven years of accomplishments in 2019, Sec. Briones said: “I’m so pleased that there is an institution exclusively focusing on research in education. We cannot have quality education or quality learners without quality teachers, and this is what RCTQ is all about.”

To further address teaching-learning challenges during COVID-19 pandemic, RCTQ and NEAP further developed two online modules that will assist DepEd in supporting teaching and learning during and after the health crisis. The two modules, soon available on DepEd and NEAP web platforms, will offer DepEd teachers and school leaders illustrations of good teaching practices that elaborate two of the ‘most difficult’ indicators of the PPST:

“Use differentiated, developmentally appropriate learning experiences to address learners’ gender, needs, strengths, interests and experiences” (PPST Indicator 3.1.2),” and

“Plan and deliver teaching strategies that are responsive to the special educational needs of learners in difficult circumstances, including: geographic isolation; chronic illness; displacement due to armed conflict, urban resettlement or disasters; child abuse and child labor practices” (PPST Indicator 3.4.2).

DepEd’s determination for education quality reforms has earned the support of the country’s legislature, with both the Senate and House of Representatives soon passing bills that strengthen the Teacher Education Council (TEC).  Since 2017, DepEd has been  actively pushing for TEC reform through its participation in the Malacanang-led and RCTQ-supported Technical Working Group for Teacher Quality (TWG-TQ) led by the Office of Cabinet Secretary. The new TEC is expected raise the bar of teacher quality in the country by ensuring the alignment of pre-service and in-service teacher education under one empowered body, that is the TEC.

At the Senate, Senate Bill No. 2152 has consolidated the bills filed by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, Sen. Joel Villanueva and Sen. Ramon Revilla on the strengthened TEC. At the House of Representatives, Cong. Roman Romulo and Cong. Weslie Gatchalian led the filing of House Bill 7938 and House Bill 8441 towards the same legislative goal.

DepEd and RCTQ will continue to work together to move for reforms and lead key issues associated with teacher quality in the Philippines.

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Since Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones assumed the leadership of the Department of Education (DepEd) in 2016, the Department has been working on aggressive reforms to respond to the urgency of improving the quality of basic education in the Philippines. RCTQ has consistently supported DepEd’s pivot from access to quality...