Luz Almeda, DepEd Region 12 director, said her department will implement a new assessment and testing scheme that will help determine the appropriate college courses or programs that senior high school students should pursue based on the level of their acquired knowledge and skills.
She said all current senior or fourth year high school students nationwide would be trying out the new testing scheme, dubbed the National Career Assessment Examination (NCAE), on Dec. 12.
The NCAE will replace the National Admission Test (NAT) taken by graduating high school students every February or March during the last several years, she said.
Almeda said the NCAE will specifically focus on measuring the entrepreneurial and technical-vocational aptitude of graduating high school students.
She said the testing scheme will set qualifying marks or levels for college programs and for ladderized technical and vocational courses.
Almeda said students who would pass the qualifying marks set for college programs would be allowed to pursue the regular four- to five-year college courses while those who would pass the technical-vocational qualifying level would enroll in technical-vocational and entrepreneurship programs.
But Almeda stressed that NCAE was not established to determine students those would qualify to enter college or not.
"The examination is more focused on the department's goals to develop more skilled professionals and entrepreneurs. It would practically guide students to chart their career paths based on their interests, skills and knowledge," she said.
Almeda said the new testing scheme will help check the present trend wherein most students are getting more inclined to take up nursing.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in Region 12 earlier cited that the number of enrollees to the four-year nursing programs offered by various schools in the region have continually increased over the last several years.
About 2,000 new freshmen students reportedly take up nursing every year while the 15 government accredited nursing schools in the region produce an average 1,000 new nurses every year.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Cotabato, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.
Education Secretary Jesli Lapus earlier said in a statement that the NCAE was designed to gauge the technical vocational aptitude and entrepreneurial capability of students before entering college and not just the general scholastic part as set in the defunct National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) that was abolished during the time of the late former Education Secretary Raul Roco.
Lapus said the NCAE was established as a result of a study conducted by the joint technical working group of DepEd, CHED and Technical Educational Skills Development Authority.
He said that while the NCAE will be a mandatory examination for all fourth year students, it will not be used as a prerequisite for college admission for the next two years of its implementation.
But on the third year, Lapus said NCAE will become a pre-requisite examination based on a proposed executive order from the Office of the President.