DepEd Bicol: Still unvalidated, no 70,000 “non readers”, but yes to “struggling readers”

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PILI, Camarines Sur – Department of Education [DepEd] regional office on Monday clarified some issues published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer regarding the number of 70,000 elementary students who “cannot read” in the Bicol Region.

DepEd’s clarification is more of a semantic, numbers game, but it did not deny the existence of thousands of students in the region who cannot read, but “lumped” them together as “struggling readers”.

Regional Director Gilbert T. Sadsad said the reported number of 70,000 is the initial, unvalidated report from the Schools Divisions Offices at the beginning of School Year 2019-2020 (SY 2019-2020.)

“For SY 2019-2020, we have a total of 1.61 million enrolled public school learners in the Region. The total population of Grades 3 to 6 is 521,676. Based on our validated data, about 20,587 pupils out of the 315,161 from Grades 4 to 6 who took the English test and 18,143 of the 336,849 from Grades 3 to 6 who took the Filipino test can be considered as ‘struggling readers’,” Sadsad made a clarification.

He said these numbers are considered as “struggling readers” based on the tests administered by the Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI.)

As explained, Phil-IRI, an initiative of the DepEd’s Bureau of Learning Delivery, only covers Grade 3 to 6.

“It is an informal reading inventory consisting of graded passages designed to determine a student’s performance in oral reading, silent reading and listening comprehension,” Sadsad said, in a statement, sent to Bicol Today in Naga City.

However, Sadsad pointed out the same Grade 4 to 6 pupils who took the English test were the same pupils who took the Filipino test, thus the absolute numbers who failed in the two exams could not be combined to arrive at an exact figure.

As mentioned, only Grades 3 to 6 were covered by the tests as there is no standard tool yet for assessing the reading abilities of pupils in Kinder up to Grade 2 and Grade 7 to Grade 12.

He said DepEd-Bicol is not trying to downplay the report by PDI, but is merely clarifying the figures and the process to present the true picture of the situation.

“We wish to assure the public and all our stakeholders that we at DepEd-Bicol are taking this matter seriously and that we are consistently initiating programs and activities to address this concern,” Sadsad said. [Joey Natividad/Bicol Today]

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