National Achievement Test

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The National Achievement Test (NAT) is an examination given annually in March to assess the competency of both public and private school students. The students’ knowledge and skills are tested in the subjects of Mathematics, English, Science, Filipino, and HEKASI for grade school and Mathematics, English, Science, Filipino, and Araling Panlipunan for high school. The test is administered by the Department of Education's National Education Testing and Research Center (NETRC). The results are intended to guide the Department of Education in its efforts towards the improvement of the quality of education in public schools and to provide appropriate intervention for the students. A score of 75% and up indicates mastery of the subject and 50% to less than 75%, near mastery; while a score of below 50% indicates low mastery.

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History

NCEE, NEAT, NSAT

The NAT used to be called the National Elementary Achievement Test (NEAT) for the grade school level and the National Secondary Achievement Test (NSAT) for the high school level. Both NEAT and NSAT were precursors of the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), an examination administered to gauge the competency of students entering college. The NCEE was abolished in 1994 through Executive Order no. 632 by then education secretary Raul Roco who stated that all high school students should be able to enter college and be given a chance of a better career in the future. It was replaced by NEAT and NSAT.

When the Department of Education Culture and Sports (DECS) was officially converted into the Department of Education (DepEd), NEAT and NSAT were also abolished and replaced by the National Achievement Test. Both the public and private elementary schools take this exam.

Assessment of School Performance

Since school year 2002-2003, the test has been given to grade 3, grade 6, and 2nd year high school students. From 2004 – 2006, the NAT was also given to high school seniors under the direction of Secretary Edilberto De Jesus as a special measure to further aid in the assessment of school performance.

The schools of Eastern Visayas and CARAGA made it to the top 2 for school years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 while the schools of ARMM, NCR and Western Visayas were in the bottom 3. Science was found to be the subject of lowest competence for both elementary and high school students. There was general deterioration seen in the results from school years 2004 to 2006 but by 2008 an improvement was seen, especially in the subject of science, with the number of students found to have low mastery of each subject consistently decreasing.

Criticism

Citing an unhealthy competition among schools, the Federation of Association of Private Schools and Administrators (FAPSA) criticizes and lobbies for the abolition of the program. The conduct of the test, according to the group, paves the way for ingenious access to leakage.

Through this exam, the National Education Testing and Research Center — the DepEd’s testing arm — seeks to determine each student’s competency level under the department’s regular and bridge education program. Under the bridge program, parents can have their sixth-grade children undergo one more year of elementary education to hone their skills in English, Filipino, math and science. However, assurances from the Philippine government stated that the exam will not be a basis for public schools to accept incoming high school or college freshmen since the government’s policy is to accept all students at any public school so long as they complete all their requirements at the previous level.

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Citation

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