This is based on the report presented by Mrs. Ma. Mimosa Pranza at the PAPCON last February entitled “When Numbers Make MEANingful Difference: Demographic Characteristics of School of Tomorrow Students’ Achievement in the Elementary Level Competency Measure: Exploring MEANingful Differences.” The complete report may be requested from the SOT®P.
S.O.T.® highly recommends that schools using the system participate in standardized testing each year to serve two primary functions:
- To help schools objectively assess student’s academic potential and progress.
- To provide schools, government entities, and other interested parties with academic performance data.
For SOT®P this emphasis on standardized testing started as early as 2005 with the use of tests offered by the Center for Educational Measurement, Inc. (CEM). In its 40 years of existence as the leading provider of testing services for the evaluation and assessment needs of both private and public sectors of education in the Philippines, CEM is the most credible instrument for external validation. SOT®P’s partnership with CEM resulted to the annual National Standardized Testing program held every December of the school year.
The program started with offering only the ELCOM (Elementary Level Competency Measure), CSAT (College Scholastic Aptitude Test), and the PACT-POIS (Philippine Aptitude Classification Test-Philippine Occupational Interest Survey) to interested SOT®P schools nationwide. One outcome of this National Standardized Testing program is the Five Year Performance Trends in the Elementary Level Competency Measure (ELCOM) and the College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT) in April of 2016.
In that 2016 Five-year Performance Trends Report, it has been revealed that a general increase in the ELCOM mean standard scores of SOT students for most of the school years. The report also shows that SOT®P students’ General Scholastic Aptitude (GSA) and Elementary Level Competency are higher than the norm group average or standard score of 500.
The Research Instrument and Score Used
The Elementary Level Competency Measure or ELCOM is an instrument designed not just to measure the readiness of elementary graduates or Grade 6 students but also to assess competencies and abilities through four subject matter tests and one mental ability test. The elementary level is foundational to further mastery of learning in high school and the ELCOM is a valid standard instrument that assesses competencies and abilities of elementary graduates through four subject matter tests (Verbal English, Verbal Filipino, Quantitative, Science) and one mental ability test (Nonverbal Reasoning).
Performance in the ELCOM is expressed as standard scores or SS. Standard scores reflect performance in comparison to a reference group. These scores are particularly helpful in norm-referenced interpretation of scores. The average performance of this reference group, called the norm group, is set at a standard score of 500 and a standard deviation of 100. How far above or below one’s obtained standard score is, with respect to the reference value of 500, indicates how far above or below average one’s performance has been. Standard scores in ELCOM range from 200 to 800.
Overall Performance of SOTP
The multi-year performance of SOT®P students in the ELCOM reveals an above the norm performance. Their overall scores in the whole test (General Scholastic Aptitude, GSA) and in the subject matter tests (Elementary Level Competency, ELC) decreased from school years 2014-15 to 2015-2016, then an increase in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. While a decrease in mean standard score was observed for school year 2018-2019, the mean standard score for test takers is still in the average qualitative range.
SOT®P students’ mean GSA (ranging from 498 to 560) and ELC (ranging from 497 to 549) are higher or equal than the norm group average or standard score of 500. These scores still indicate average to above average performance across five school years.
Performance of Students from Model Schools
In School of Tomorrow, maintaining and upgrading the quality and vitality of schools using the system is given much importance that a Model Status certification program is offered every school year with benefits and recognition earned through spiritual, academic, technical, and overall excellence.
For a period of five school years, results show that there is a significant difference between the mean GSA Standard Scores of students coming from Model and Non-model schools, where students from model schools are performing better than students from non-model schools. This result may have limitations since all students from certified and supervised Model School status were only categorized as one, however, the statistically significant difference cannot be denied.
Implications of the CEM Report
Areas of strength and weakness were identified by comparing students’ performance to that of the norm group average (SS of 500). A standard score of 500 or higher is regarded as average to above average performance. Tests or subtests with mean standard scores equal to or higher than 500 were considered areas of relative strength. Mean standard scores lower than 500 were considered indicative of relative weakness.
Results of the study show that Verbal English (605 total mean SS) and Non-verbal reasoning (SS mean of 520) are areas of strength in the SOT system while Verbal Filipino is an area of weakness that needs to be addressed. Though Quantitative and Science Subtest Standard Scores show an average to above average performance, there is a need to look into other factors that may have affected the decrease of scores for schoolyear 2018-2019.
It is remarkable to note the significant difference of mean standards scores of SOT®P students coming from Model and Non-model schools. May this result encourage schools to be consistent and faithful in their practices and also challenge other schools to aim for quality status.
The distinctive characteristics of being Self-paced; individualized; mastery-based; Bible-centered the School of Tomorrow® system or Accelerated Christian Education curriculum and the stark contrast—between a teacher-centered whole-group instruction classroom setting and an unconventional self-directed approach where students are trained to be responsible for their own learning—pose some perceived weaknesses of the system especially with regards to student’s academic achievement. May more SOTP schools then make use of valid and reliable standardized measurements to objectively show stakeholders how students are academically performing in comparison to the national standards.
Designed to be unbiased, a standardized test is seen as a critical tool in evaluating the school’s strengths and weaknesses, thereby providing insight to teachers how to plan, structure, and improve focus areas.
Generally, the performance trends of the 5-year ELCOM mean standard scores show one thing: the total mean general scholastic aptitude and elementary level competency of SOT®P’s Year 6 students is above the norm. This shows that SOTP’s norm is above the national norm.
So, yes, SOT®P as a system of learning is different and distinct, and will always be different and distinct but definitely not less.
SOT®P is different, distinct and excellent.