This picture is a screenshot taken during the commencement exercise held on July 12th at Palawan National School, featuring the students.

The education department is poised to conduct a thorough evaluation of its existing student recognition system in light of ongoing discussions surrounding the elimination of valedictorian, salutatorian, and other awards with a “hierarchical” nature.

Assistant Secretary Francis Cesar Bringas of the Department of Education (DepEd) affirmed in an interview that this review would form an integral part of the comprehensive revision of the K to 12 Curriculum, scheduled for implementation during the School Year 2024-2025.

“Since magre-revise naman tayo ng ating curriculum effective School Year 2024-2025, it comes with a revision or modification of our classroom assessment policies that will also entail, possibly, a revision of our grading system and awards and recognition,” Bringas told Teleradyo Serbisyo.

“Kailangan lang kasi ang ating assessment, aligned sa ating curriculum. So kung magre-revise tayo ng curriculum, meron tayong revision din kung paano i-a-assess iyong mga competencies na na-a-achieve ng mga bata under the new curriculum,” he added.

Under the administration of then-education secretary Armin Luistro in 2016, the DepEd made the decision to discontinue the previous system of awarding “hierarchical” accolades.

The intention behind this change was to shift the focus away from fostering competition among learners and instead place emphasis on acknowledging individual accomplishments, Bringas said.

“Nakikita natin iyong effect ng ganyang hierarchical award sa mga bata, nagkakaroon ng mga pressure coming from parents, from family na kailangan ikaw yung Top 1, Top 2, Top 3 and so on,” he said.

Over the past 7 years, graduating students have received the following academic recognitions based on their overall grade averages: “With Highest Honors” for averages between 98 and 100, “With High Honors” for averages ranging from 95 to 97, and “With Honors” for averages between 90 and 94.

“With these awards, walang ganyang pressure dahil you are competing with yourself and not with others,” Bringas added. 

He highlighted that since its introduction, the new system has gained widespread acceptance, even though there were initial concerns raised by certain parents. It is important to note that these concerns have already been thoroughly addressed at the school level.

Since its implementation in 2016, the new system has been in effect. However, a recent Facebook post containing a clarification by former secretary Leonor Briones regarding the policy has gone viral after being shared.

These discussions arose just days before public schools in the Philippines conducted their moving-up and graduation ceremonies.