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Honor Roll: Top students in senior high school talk about DepEd’s decision to cancel final exams

Compiled by ANGELA CASCO, VIANCA GAMBOA, and JULES VIVAS

The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has disrupted our lives in every way possible. It has brought great uncertainties for everyone, forcing countries to observe lockdown and people to engage in social distancing. Governments and individuals across different parts of the world are modifying their actions and behavior in response to the threat.

Among the most affected by the outbreak is the education system. In the Philippines, the Department of Education (DepEd) has been trying its best to address all the concerns of parents, teachers, and students. Because of the ongoing pandemic, the agency is now considering to move the opening of the school year from June to July or August. Meanwhile, on April 13, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones announced that graduation and other end-of-the-school-year rites were indefinitely put on hold. But these were the least of the concerns.

On March 16, the DepEd released Memorandum 42, which stated that public schools covered by the class suspension due to the pandemic would no longer be allowed to hold final examinations. According to DepEd’s new guidelines for the fourth quarter exams, the scheduled March 16 to 20 final tests would no longer be administered at schools within Metro Manila and other places under community quarantine. The memo also set the formula for computing the final grades following the cancelation of the final exam.

This move has brought many questions, many of which remain unanswered. How are private schools affected? Is the decision even fair? What happens to students who were aiming to graduate with honors now that the grading system has suddenly been altered? For the record, those who passed are still graduating minus the ceremony.

Manila Bulletin Lifestyle asked some senior high school (SHS) students who are graduating with honors from various schools to weigh in on the issue.

St. Paul University

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Despite DepEd canceling exams for public schools, our university pushed through with our final examination. Our principal released a memo that our university was against basing the students’ grades on midterms for the reason that it would be unfair. At the same time, many students wanted to take a shot at raising their grades through the final examinations. We were asked if we wanted to push through with the tests, and the majority of us agreed to take it. Classes and final examinations were moved because the school administration further assessed if the senior high students were college-ready.

I find DepEd’s new policy to base student ranking on the overall class standing both good and bad. Good for the teachers since they only need to focus on the General Weighted Average (GWA). They no longer need to give special awards per year level. On the other hand, the students will not be able to know their “true” rankings. Be that as it may, I believe there are no other options but to base student ranking on the overall class standing. Rushing the assessment of each student could lead to errors in computation and so on. The worst case scenario would be if parents start to compare their children’s grades and end up complaining and asking for a reasonable explanation. It would be upsetting to not know the overall rank but, in this case, it cannot be avoided. — Daphney Andrea Benito

 

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When the finals got canceled, our natural reaction was, of course, joy. After months of hard work, we deserved a break from all the stress of having to submit requirements for our subjects. That changed when we looked at the bigger picture. Classes ending so suddenly meant that none of us would know what the outcome from the school year would be. We just thought of it as a short break but now, it seems as though we won’t be coming back to school at all to finish the semester.

The DepEd memorandum contains the guidelines for the remainder of the school year. I find it unfair that finals are canceled. Some students often review for finals the most because it’s their chance to pull their grades up. This memorandum takes away the chance from students to improve their grades. The class standing alone is not a sufficient basis for the overall grades. There are so many factors to consider. For instance some students are just a hindrance for others in group works. Even though your individual outputs are good, the grades on your group works can drag down your good record. — Rainielle Marrie Montallana

Far Eastern University (FEU) Manila

Our institution makes use of the system known as Canvas, a network that offers students online courses and classes. Through it the exams were conducted. In my opinion, the exams were way more convenient online. Time management and cheating are, however, major concerns, a downside despite its efficiency. I am the daughter of a professor who happens to work in a school that doesn’t utilize flipped classrooms and other networks, which assist in the student’s learning beyond the school premises. So I am aware that this is an advantage or a benefit given to us by FEU. I have witnessed my mother having a hard time assessing her students. It must be really hard to gauge one’s capabilities and progress without a test. The mere fact that not all of us are fortunate enough to have online learning has me realize many things. Students have waited for a long time to graduate, but because of the new guidelines, not everyone would be able to walk with their parents onto the stage. I do understand that DepEd’s memo is implemented in consideration of the safety of the students. And as students, we are also obligated to follow protocols in order to help our country fight the war against this pandemic. I believe the least that we can do is to follow. The beauty of education is we are being taught to follow but also to make a stand. — Frances Cherlee Espartero

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In our school, we use an online schooling platform for submitting assignments, extra work, etc. But since the quarantine we have been continuing classes online. The idea of the school is to have students religiously attend the classes. This is hard for some, like me. I have really slow WiFi, an uncooperative computer, and a family who thinks I am free from school. It seems the situation is better for some of my friends.

In my perspective, basing the student ranking on overall class standing is not justifiable. I believe there are students who are trying to make a big difference in the last grading period, like a final push to raise grades. I believe that those who work well on their academics should be rewarded, as it will also benefit their future. It will seem like their hard work is thrown out, even if they have endured so much stress day and night for most of the schoolyear. — Anaq Hubbard

Malabon National High School

Our classes ended on March 9, and we were supposed to have graduated on April 2. At the time, we only had a few things left to accomplish. We utilized Schoology and Google Classroom to carry on with the remaining lectures. The submission of final requirements such as our research papers was also suspended. We were told to wait for further announcements. Basing the student ranking on class standing is not fair. There are a lot of students who are trying to catch up to the honor roll through the remaining activities. For students like us, the computation of extracurricular activities was finished before the quarantine. We’re only waiting for our grades now. Not everyone like me joined contests, though, so the unfinished academic activities play a part in the overall grade of many students.

It’s true that being an honor student does not guarantee success, but it still helps. For those who are not sure if they can still continue studying, being an honor student can work to their advantage. There are schools and companies that offer discounts and scholarships for honor students. At work, being an honor student still matters because employers check how you performed as a student. Being an honor student is also a reflection of your hard work and experiences, which I consider advantageous and helpful in becoming more successful after graduating. — Angelo Mari Santos

Antipolo National High School

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I am a junior high school student. Our classes ended on March 12. There’s no ranking system anymore. If you obtained a general weighted average of 90-94 that means you’ll be “with honors.” If you got 95-97, you’ll end the schoolyear with high honors, and 98-100 with the highest honor.

During the first and second quarter, I was with honors, while at the end of the third quarter with high honors.

Fortunately, we were already able to take our exams as we had to practice for the moving up ceremony. We were able to submit requirements before the suspension of classes, except for a musical that we were not able to stage. We were also not able to submit our record sheet for Math, and our final project. I think our teacher just based the grade on our group reporting for each lesson. We did not do any more school-related activities after the suspension of classes.

I personally believe it’s fair because the chances are still equal. It’s not only in favor of honor students but it’s also for everyone. After all, the basis is still your school performance.

Your achievements in school won’t do much in the real world. It can probably help experience-wise, but so many people became successful even though they were never honor students or even if they never graduated. At the end of the day, only hard work, consistency, and determination will make you succeed and achieve your dreams. — Kenneth Dalde

 

Wawangpulo National High School

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They [the teachers] were not able to explain to us the current grading system, but some of the students were aware of the new grading system DepEd implemented. It’s “fair” in a way, since each and every student was given equal chance to get a good class standing even before the outbreak. It’s not fair in the sense that there are those who needed to catch up, and the final exam would’ve been their only hope.

Either way, graduating with honors is not that important for me. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. What truly matters is your attitude, learnings, and most important application. One of the most important things to know is how you can apply, possess, or own the knowledge and experience that you gained over the past years. Sadly, the education system nowadays is very limiting, and not everyone who dreams gets the opportunity to broaden their horizon. — Nikko Dave Lazaro

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We had our last class on March 9. We weren’t informed by our teachers how they graded us but they did, however, announce the names of the students finishing with honors. They also told us the possibility of the graduation being moved to a later schedule or not happening at all. Although I think it’s rational to get the grades from the previous grading, I have to agree that not having the final exam deprives those who need to catch up of the opportunity.

Graduating with honors is important because it is the basis for admission to other schools and for scholarships. I’m not saying that not having any honors means you won’t have a good future… It still all depends on your intelligence, strategy, and determination. — Eugene Villarosa



Source: Manila Bulletin ( https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/04/16/honor-roll-top-students-in-senior-high-school-talk-about-depeds-decision-to-cancel-final-exams/)

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