Acceleration is a major feature of the School of Tomorrow/ACE system of education. Testimonies have been shared by graduates who were able to complete all the PACEs as early as 14 years old. In fact, graduates of the Honors Course of Study would often complete twelve levels of curriculum within ten years of schooling. This was especially true before the advent of Senior High School. However, there is a need to clarify how acceleration should be applied in the context of Philippine education.
As a curriculum, S.O.T.® provides self-instructional materials designed for individualized progress. The fast-learner advances without having to be stalled by waiting for others to catch up. And the slow-learner is not pressured to catch up but is given the time to work in order to complete a course of study. Time and again, it has been reiterated that in S.O.T.® “learning is the constant and time is the variable.” In the conventional system of education, “time is the constant and learning is the variable.”
So, does a fast-learner accelerate? Yes. But how does that match with the acceleration requirements of the government? There are a number of things that must be addressed.
The current Philippine education system specifies the number of academic years required for each course – six years of elementary, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School. Thus, a child is considered an elementary graduate upon the completion of six years after having fulfilled all requirements for graduation. The same is true with Junior High School completers – completion of four years and satisfactorily fulfilling all curricular requirements. Here are three common questions:
Is a fast working SOT student who completes all requirements for elementary level – 1097 – in five years eligible for acceleration to Junior High School?
Technically the answer is NO. The DepEd Manual of Regulations for the Operation of Private Schools does not allow acceleration from elementary to high school. Thus, if the school administration perceives that a child is far advanced with PACEs on the fourth and fifth year of elementary school, that is the time to apply for acceleration. The DepEd Manual provides that acceleration can only take place within “Grades IV to VI.” And it should be done within the first four months of the school year. The year-end performance of the child cannot be a basis for acceleration to the next level. The child can be accelerated on the first quarter of the following school year. And to reiterate, it MUST be reported to the Department of Education. Otherwise, the acceleration is invalid.
There have been cases where schools “accelerated” students without reporting to the DepEd and without following DepEd regulations on acceleration. SOT®P cannot defend a school in cases like that. While S.O.T.® is accelerated, proper reportorial and documentary requirements must be followed. This has been discussed on a regular basis in previous Educators’ Conventions.
With the new K-12 standards, schools using the system recognize that some pupils can proceed to Junior High School upon completing 1084 provided they are not pursuing the Honors Course of Study. What if the child completes 1084 after five years in elementary, can the child be “accelerated” to Junior High School?
Again, the answer is NO. For two reasons – First, as stated above, there is no provision for acceleration from elementary to Junior High School in the DepEd Manual; Second, if a child completes 1084 on the fifth year, that means 1097 should be next the goal. Besides, S.O.T.® has the Expanded Curriculum offering for fast-learners in the elementary level giving them more materials to work on. The same thing applies to high school students. The S.O.T.® Procedures Manual states that a student should not be allowed to graduate based on minimum requirements. Thus, completing the requirements for the General Course of Study or College Preparatory in three years of high school does not mean a student should be a considered a completer. The additional year allows the student to complete higher PACE levels.
What if the student completes 1144 after Junior High School, should the student accelerate to college? •
NO. While it is not specifically stated in the DepEd Manual, with the passing of the K-12 Law, Senior High School is a requirement for college. Higher PACEs may be taken up in Senior High School, specifically in STEM subjects like Math and Science. College PACEs may also be used in Senior High. A student who has completed 1144 in Junior High has a great advantage in being prepared for higher concept lessons after Junior High. It is also important to note that many Senior High subjects are not covered by PACEs, thus, SOT®P has embarked on a journey to produce materials for Senior High School. Be reminded that colleges and universities will require completion records of subjects taken in SHS and failure to provide these may result in the rejection of an “accelerated” student to college level.
Acceleration is a normal part of the individualized learning process of the S.O.T.® system. The main goal is to allow students to progress at their own PACE. It is not about “finishing early” because not all children are exceptionally fast academically. Academics is just one aspect of education. It is important to understand that PACEs cover the core subjects of basic education. There are other subjects required by the Philippine government like MAPEH (Music, Arts, P.E., and Health) and Technology and Livelihood Education – they may miss the important lessons in these areas by skipping them in the name of acceleration. Christian educators and parents should also take into consideration the social and psychological preparedness of their children when advancing towards higher levels. These factors should be taken into account when the question to accelerate or not to accelerate a student arises.