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6 Things We Know Now About the K to 12 and Senior High School
PHOTO BY dlsud.edu.ph
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • This school year (2016-2017) marks the beginning of the full implementation of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) K to 12 Program. Students all over the country are now required to take 13 years of basic education, broken down into one year of kindergarten and 12 years of primary education. The latter is further subdivided into six years of grade school, four years of junior high school (JHS), and two years of senior high school (SHS).

    For many new parents like us, senior high school is a long way to go (we're only still looking for preschools!), but it wouldn't hurt to know about the new curriculum, and what the recent changes mean for our children. A year ago, if you asked school officials specific details about the implementation of senior high school, no one would have been able to give definitive answers. Now, three months into our first foray into K to 12, we know these thus far: 

    1. Junior high school (grade levels 7-10) is still “first to fourth year high school”--with some changes.
    “The same subjects are taught, but there is more focus on the mastery of concepts,” explains Edgardo Lu, vice president for Basic Education at St. Francis of Assisi College, which has nine campuses located in southern Metro Manila, Cavite, and Laguna. “For example, before K to 12, science subjects were broken down and taught per year level: General Science for the first year of high school, Biology for the second year, Chemistry for the third year, and Physics for the fourth year. Now, all those four subjects are taken up every year, with increasing scope and depth. This way, learning is reinforced,” he adds.


    2. Senior high school (grade levels 11 and 12) still falls under high school with a key difference.
    The subjects offered in these grade levels are similar to those in first and second year college, so students can expect college-level teaching. Their senior high school teachers will be a mix of college professors and high school teachers who have undergone more extensive training than their JHS counterparts. Also, the school year is broken down into semesters, instead of quarters. “When a student graduates from JHS (Grade 10), he has to choose the track or strand he will take in SHS,” says Lu. Tracks and strands are similar to college courses--your choice of track will determine the subjects that you will take throughout SHS. 

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    3. Students need to think harder--and-earlier--about the future. 
    As early as JHS, students must already have an idea about what course they want in the future. “JHS students have to make a major decision even before starting Grade 11,” points out Lu. “Will they (1) proceed to college after Grade 12? (2) Look for a job after Grade 12? Or (3) become entrepreneurs after Grade 12?”

    Note that Lu's points #2 and #3 are possible because under the enhanced K to 12 curriculum, high school graduates are expected to already possess the skills required to work, or start their own businesses right away. 

    4. SHS students can choose from four tracks and two of these are further subdivided into strands. 

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    5. Not all secondary schools offer all tracks and all the strands.
    Subejcts will depend on the resources of the school, the needs of the community, and the interests of the students. Also, some universities, like the Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle University are now offering senior high school, prompting some students to transfer right after JHS. Lu disagrees with this move. “At SFAC, we encourage our 10th graders to stay and finish SHS with us because their former teachers are within reach, if they need help or advice. SHS is basic education--it is not college yet. So there is no need to spend [the equivalent of] a university education.”

    6. “Shifting” is allowed.
    Much like college, students are allowed to change their tracks or strands in the middle of senior high school. To do this, however, they must complete all the pre-requisite subjects of the new track or strand, which will entail extra work. “This is why it’s very important that the student chooses the right track or strand after Grade 10,” Lu stresses. But don’t worry. The DepEd as well as your child’s school will help guide him in his choice of tracks and strands through assessments and career aptitude tests that will be conducted regularly throughout his grade school and high school years.

    As you can see, senior high school is a whole new challenge that is different from what we grew up with. With K to 12, it is hoped that our children will become more mature, responsible, and ready for the future, with a clearer vision of who they want to become.

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