For those who have been years removed from schooling, the governments reforms to educational policies are taking effect soon. They’ve added two years to schooling with the new K-12 program. By 2015, school will be starting in August. Grades would be based on letters and not the common A-F scale.

Admittedly, when I heard about KPUP during a meeting with, I thought I just misheard “Kpop” (Korean pop). Apparently, it’s the shorthand to refer to the K-12′ “assessment framework.” And I have several issues with it.

First, let’s address the labels. I think it is misleading to just refer to simply refer to the assessment and evaluation framework. Assessment refers to tracking the students’ progress (formative) and evaluation refers to checking if they have learned (summative).

KPUP actually refers to the various levels of assessment. Unlike before when the combination of quizzes, long tests, and periodic or end-of-term exams were used as the primary component of grades, the framework now takes into account these various levels. Here’s an attempt to a simple explanation but the details can be seen in the DepEd order 73 s. 2012.

  • Knowledge (K) – 15% – Checks factual information. Similar to the usual pen-and-paper activities like objective-type quizzes and tests.
  • Process (P) – 25% – Checks skills and operations like outlining, expressing, and converting information to other forms.
  • Understanding (U) – 30% – Checks big concepts, meanings, and principles through explanations and interpretations.
  • Performance/Product (P) – 30% – Checks actual application of learning through projects.

Taking a look a the breakdown, one can see that what used to be the biggest chunk of students’ grades accounts for just 15% and what used to be considered minor activities such as projects now account for 30%. Theoretically, these are quite sound principles since contemporary views on learning say that learning must be applied to what is relevant to the learner’s life.

In addition, “grades” (now called “levels of proficiency”) will be as follows:

  • Beginning – 74% and below
  • Developing – 75 to 79%
  • Approaching Proficiency – 80 to 84%
  • Proficient – 85 to 89%
  • Advanced – 90% and above

Problems, however, lie in how this whole thing (especially in the context of the problematic K-12 roll-out) is going to be implemented. I don’t believe that all schools (both public and private) have a thorough understanding of the framework including the underpinning theories. In no portion, save for a lonely citation) of the document does it cite which theories and scholarship influenced these guidelines. I can only assume from my own deduction, that it applies or adheres by principles proposed by scholars like Bruner, Piaget, Vygotsky, Wiggins, and McTighe.

Going around and talking to teachers also reinforce my reservations. While the DepEd has provided talks and discussions with schools and teachers, this change in the system requires more than just orientation. It requires a robust transition program – something that I think are left for schools to figure out. Where are the toolkits? The comprehensive guides? The training programs? The follow ups? Hopefully, these materialize soon.

Compound the problem with parents not being educated on these reforms. K-12 is not the system that many of the parents, even the younger ones, grew up in. They have little to no idea about KPUP or the BDAPPA. The shift in mindset where projects now weigh more than exams can be a tough pill to swallow for the generations of parents who considered numbers the basis for their child’s intelligence ergo metric of future success (an utter fallacy in my book).

No matter how flawless we think the plans are, it’s where the rubber meets the road where it counts. If teachers have almost no idea on how to proceed and facilitate all these new policies, then we’d be in bad shape.  In the words of the philosopher Mike Tyson, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.”

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