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INNOTECH RR-14-2017: Evaluation of the Open High School Program in the Philippines

In early 2013, Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (SEAMEO INNOTECH) undertook an evaluation study to determine the current state of Open High School Program (OHSP) implementation in selected Open High Schools in the Philippines. The research study was funded through SEAMEO INNOTECH’s Research and Innovation Fund as part of the Center’s complimentary set of program interventions to support the Department of Education (DepEd)’s need for sustained technical support in operationalizing the new K to 12 Basic Education System. The evaluation study was designed in close coordination with the DepEd Bureau of Secondary Education (BSE) and the Open High School Coordination team. Specifically, the study was undertaken to accomplish four objectives: first, to examine the viability of the OHSP as an alternative delivery mode (ADM) for secondary education; second, to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the OHSP as an ADM strategy; third, to appraise the comparability of open high school (OHS) and regular high school students; and finally, to pinpoint aspects of the OSHP that need to be developed to ensure that it is in harmony with the new K to 12 curricular reforms. The evaluation questions that guided the research were the following: (1) What did schools do to make the OHSP work? (2) What aspects of the OHSP need to be strengthened? (3) How comparable are the OHS and regular high school students in terms of their performance in five subjects, namely, math, science, English, Filipino and araling panlipunan? (4) Which component/s of the OHSP need/s to be improved to make it responsive to the new K to 12 program (Grades 7 to 12)? Data were collected from 331 students from 155 OHSP-implementing schools using separate mailed survey instruments. Seventeen schools (n = 17) were visited and 203 key implementers and stakeholders participated in focus group discussions. Lastly, 1,578 students selected from four schools representing the National Capital Region (NCR) and the three island groups were included in comparing OHSP and regular high school performance. Major data collection methods used were school and student questionnaires and interviews. School records of final grades in five subjects for a sample of OHSP and regular students were also obtained from four selected schools. Initial findings were presented to DepEd on three occasions, namely, (1) during the workshop on flexible learning options participated in by OHSP Regional Coordinators held in April 2013, (2) during the meeting with the director and staff of the Bureau of Secondary Education on January 14, 2014, and (3) meeting with the Project Management Service Unit on July 10, 2015 in relation to the World Bank’s Project LEAPS (Learning, Equity and Accountability Program Support). DepEd recommendations were considered in the report. The study concludes that the OHSP is a viable alternative delivery mode (ADM) for students who are at risk of dropping out and the out-of-school youth who want to finish their high school education. It has been identified as a solution to high dropout rates by providing an attractive option to those who, for some reason, cannot attend regular school. Therefore, the OHSP is both a dropout reduction intervention and an important mechanism in attaining the DepEd Education for All (EFA) goals. However, a few areas with scope for improvement were identified with regard to implementation and fiscal management. Teachers and teacher advisers lacked specialized training on how to monitor different learners who were developing at their own individual paces. Some learning materials (modules) were outdated, incomplete, and lacking. Many teachers were assigned OHSP responsibilities as an additional teaching load, often without financial compensation other than that provided by local government or non-government organizations (NGOs). Many OHS learners and parents were not provided adequate orientation about the time frame of completion of the program. Finally, monitoring and evaluation of the program is irregular. Henceforth, a national system for regular and systematic monitoring and evaluation of the program is important. Comparison of academic performance of OHS and regular high school students indicated that across four year levels and five subjects (i.e., English, Filipino, mathematics, science and araling panlipunan), the OHS students were not very different from their regular high school counterparts. About half of the comparisons made did not show statistically significant differences between the two groups. In a few comparisons, OHS students had higher grades than regular high school students. The use of final grades in making comparisons between groups is a common practice. However, since grades are laden with subjectivity due to differences in grading procedures even from teacher to teacher and from school to school, and sometimes within the same teacher, another measure should be used as a reference point in comparing OHS and regular high school students. The study suggests designing a more systematic data collection process for evaluating the comparability of OHS and regular high school students. Standardized tests such as the National Achievement Test (NAT) are one credible index of comparison. These findings from a simple comparative analysis (as described in Part IV) can be verified if OHS students are allowed to participate in the NAT tests or through a carefully designed quasi-experimental research that would ensure comparability, both of which are being recommended in this study. The existing OHS curriculum, including learning materials, should be aligned with the new K to 12 curriculum, with some improvements suggested. First, modules need to be developed for the contents of Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) and for the Grades 11 and 12 in a format suitable to OHS learners. Second, quantity and quality of contact time with OHS teachers and teacher advisers need to be enhanced to maximize learning opportunities for OHS students. Third, more suitable approaches such as differentiated instruction have to be applied as the OHS learners greatly vary in paces of and preferences for learning. Fourth, the role of the guidance counselor needs to be further strengthened, particularly when some preliminary decisions are made at Grade 9 toward any of the four tracks (i.e., academic, sports, arts and design, and technical vocational livelihood). Although conceived as a remedy to curb increasing dropout rates, the OHSP can truly be an alternative delivery mode to the regular high school program. If the OHSP is developed as an equivalent, not just an adjunct (add-on) program in regular high schools, it has the potential to be an effective solution not only to classroom congestion and dropout reduction but as a response to individual differences in large schools. Schools that are already implementing OHSP are encouraged to participate in crafting the improvements in OHSP while continuing their efforts to promote the program. The potential of the OHSP to help keep students in school, especially those who have difficulties attending the regular high school program, must be maximized by expanding the program to more secondary schools. However, DepEd needs to address first the problems identified in existing open high schools, assess the readiness of schools to implement OHSP, and to repackage the OHSP in such a way that it is relevant and responsive to any situation as a safety net to curb the incidence of school leavers. This includes being adapted as an education in emergencies intervention for schools affected by natural disasters or in conflict-affected areas and other difficult circumstances. The best practices and lessons learned by OHSP-implementing schools could serve as valuable inputs to the formulation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the newly passed Republic Act No. 10665 or Open High School System Act of 2015. In view of the findings and conclusions drawn from the evaluation study, specific recommendations for DepEd are proffered, many of which are drawn from surveys, FGDs, and initial presentations to DepEd.

SEAMEO Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology
Authors Keywords
SEAMEO INNOTECH; open high school; education in emergencies;
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Published in 2015 and available in the SEAMEO INNOTECH Knowledge Resource Center or Downloaded 269 times since October 25, 2018
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