26 June 2006

A memo on teacher hiring in Naga City

NOTE: I wrote this memo for the June 28, 2006 regular meeting of the Naga City School Board, where the agenda item on teacher hiring is one of the unfinished business.

LAST Friday, I sat to observe, as School Board representative, the 2nd round of interview of secondary school teacher-applicants we negotiated* with the Division of City Schools.

At the outset, there was hesitation on the part of the Division office, as well as the high school selection committee, to grant our request transmitted through a memorandum dated June 16, 2006 in response to the Registry of Qualified Applicants released two days earlier. The primary reason advanced was that the initial round had been completed and it would be unfair to applicants who took part. The memo however was triggered by the observation that 25% of those who applied (34 of 132) were not interviewed and subsequently administered the English proficiency test. These two criteria account for 50% of the total rating an applicant can get.

In the end, we were able to convince the Division that it is in the best interest of our public schools to give the 34 another chance. The School Board went to the extent of contacting them individually by phone and through text. It arranged with the Institutional Testing Center of the Ateneo de Naga University the conduct of an English proficiency test because the Division is worried its testing instrument might have been compromised already.

Aside from text messages sent, we reached 16 of the 34 applicants by phone. Thirteen of them showed up for the interview, and 6 took the English proficiency test at the Ateneo. The process added 8 teachers with complete ratings to the pool of applicants. It also gave us greater confidence that the teachers that will eventually be placed are the best available.

Several points need to be underscored here, especially in the context of the policy reversal in teacher hiring that the School Board is taking issue with the Department of Education:

1. The School Board's participation can enhance the teacher recruitment process. As early as March 2006, it has used the city website, radio programs and other related information channels at its disposal to circulate the information that the School Board is hiring 77 locally-funded teachers to augment the DepEd teaching staff. As a result, more than 200 teachers applied at the elementary level, and 132 at the secondary level.

2. The School Board's participation can enhance the teacher evaluation and selection process. Guided by its commitment to equalize opportunities (particularly on behalf of applicants who were not informed about the schedule and thus were not able to participate in the first round), it exerted efforts to reach them by all means available, instead of just relying on radio announcements and bulletin board postings. The Board therefore is in a good position to complement the DepEd's traditional information channel to ensure a deeper pool of applicants.

3. Moreover, even as a non-rating observer, I seized the opportunity to ask IT-related questions, coursed through the panel of interviewers. This was impelled by the fact that computer application skills account for 10% of the raw score on the interview. By ensuring a greater diversity in perspectives and tone down inherent tendencies to think alike (the panel consisted of high school principals and subject area department heads), the participation of the SP Education Committee chair as provided for under the previous policy can be expected to improve the quality of the interview.

The teacher hiring process and outcomes can get better. But it can be greatly facilitated by the Education Department's willingness to reconsider its current policy; and restore, welcome and encourage the participation of local stakeholders in its key processes, given the Naga City School Board's leadership and proven track record of productive partnership with the local schools division.

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*It was negotiated as the current policy on teacher recruitment, evaluation and selection has reverted to an all-DepEd affair, excluding local stakeholders represented by the School Board. If the local schools division did not acceed to such request, it is well within its prerogatives under this policy. The Naga City School Board is advocating stronger local participation consistent with reforms initiated by former Education Secretary Florencio Abad.

2 comments:

Urbano dela Cruz said...

willy,

I just finished listening to Sir Ken Robinson's lecture at the TED Talks.

"Sir Ken Robinson is senior advisor to the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, and an influential advocate for the importance of creativity in education. (Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA.) "

It was one of the best lectures I have ever heard about the state and the future of education.

The other TED (Technology, Environment, Design) lectures are also fantastic. I strongly recommend them.

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Thanks, Urbano. I'm downloading the MP3 as I write this.:)