Breaking silos to build a better teaching force

By: Justine Raagas - @inquirerdotnet - Columnist/Philippine Daily Inquirer | May 20,2023 - 07:45 AM

Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” This phrase stands as a bitter testament to how we see and treat one of society’s most crucial pillars—our educators.

How can we see to it that teachers would teach well when the foundation is compromised by an inferior education system? Cultivating an excellent teaching workforce requires systematic work. Consequently, the lack of collaboration and support from education agencies hinders teachers from succeeding in their roles.

This unfortunate reality of lack of support even in preservice education is made painfully clear by recent statistics. A study by the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) on the performance of teachers in the Board Licensure Examination for Professional Teachers (BLEPT) revealed that from 2010 to 2022, less than 40 percent of exam-takers passed the test. The effectiveness of the BLEPT to assess teaching readiness is another question that needs to be answered, given the exam’s lack of transparency for peer review.

Challenges in mastering certain competencies also hound those who have passed the exam and are already in service. According to a study by the Philippine National Research Center for Teacher Quality and the SiMERR National Research Center, teachers demonstrate limited proficiency in mathematics, science, Filipino, and English. This affirms the findings of the World Bank that teachers’ content knowledge score is only about 40 percent for English, and even lower in other subjects.

These findings demand that we take a closer look at the factors contributing to these alarming results. One thing we need to examine is how government agencies tasked with improving teacher education can work better together.

There are three gatekeepers of teacher quality: the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), and the Department of Education (DepEd). CHEd oversees preservice teacher education and sets standards for teacher education programs, while PRC administers licensure tests. DepEd, as the largest employer of teachers, is expected to set qualifications in hiring members of the teaching force.

The Second Congressional Commission on Education (EdCom II) subcommittee meeting last month affirmed the lack of convergence among these three.

Stakeholders have reported gaps in CHEd’s teacher education institution (TEI) curriculum regarding competencies required for teaching. Another issue is on quality—with more than 1,500 TEIs offering the program. This opens up the question of quality assurance, and how it can be done effectively given the number of institutions. This is also reflected in the same PBEd study wherein only two percent of TEIs with a significant number of takers have passing rates above 75 percent.

A diploma and a professional license do not also guarantee immediate employment. Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon face an oversupply of TEIs and teacher education graduates, while rural areas suffer from shortages and major mismatches. This reflects the need for forecasting and signaling teacher demand per specialization by DepEd to ensure proper supply and demand across the country.

To help address these issues in the teaching profession, Republic Act No. 11713 or the Excellence in Teacher Education Act was enacted to strengthen the function of the Teacher Education Council (TEC) in ensuring alignment among all agencies and establishing a road map for teacher education, linking preservice curriculum and in-service training programs.

The immediate release of the law’s implementing rules and regulations is crucial to solving this misalignment. Another specific and immediate action point for the TEC is to require the PRC to release the licensure exam questions. This can be a starting point to check if the exam is really aligned with the standards required by DepEd, CHEd, and its overall effectiveness to screen teachers fit for practice.

PBEd supports the new TEC and EdCom II as they present the perfect opportunity to review how we prepare our teachers and assess if the current mechanism works. It may also be the best time to rethink the way we assess our students to gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of teacher training and identify how we can better support our teachers in the system and prepare those who are still about to enter.

Raising good teachers entails breaking silos and having transparent walls. By fostering collaboration among the gatekeepers of teacher education and implementing rigorous quality assurance processes, we can elevate the teaching profession and ultimately produce well-rounded professionals across all fields.


Justine Raagas is executive director of the Philippine Business for Education.


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