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Key Stage 4: Senior High School (SHS) Curriculum

The additional two (2) years to the basic education cycle is one of the hallmarks of the K to 12 program. The Senior High School (SHS) curriculum is the main policy tool that will serve as the blueprint for program implementation. This section aims to provide a concise yet comprehensive articulation of critical elements of the curriculum to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in program implementation.

The SHS curriculum is also DepEd’s contribution to the ongoing articulation of a national system of quality assurance, accreditation, credit transfer, and recognition of learning pathways across the subsystems of Philippine education. Through the SHS curriculum, DepEd is able to formulate the equivalent qualification standards of basic education graduates vis-a-vis vocational-technical and higher education qualification standards. The SHS curriculum formulation, therefore, is a step toward the realization of the Philippine Qualifications Framework (PQF). As mentioned above, the SHS curriculum is the main policy tool for the implementation of the new 13-year cycle of basic education. The curriculum is composed of the Core, Applied Track, and Specialized Subjects, which are defined in the succeeding sections. There are 31 subjects in all, accounting for 2,480 hours in 2 years of senior high school. These are distributed in 4 semesters with 2 quarters per semester. The 15 compulsory subjects across eight Learning Areas in the Core Curriculum are described here.

The SHS curriculum establishes the learning standards per learning area and the expected competencies that will be acquired by the learners per grade level and key stage outcome (Grade 12 for SHS). Essentially, a learning standard defines a core of knowledge and skills that students ought to acquire at different grade levels or over certain grade spans. It refers to how well the student must perform, at what kinds of tasks, and based on what content. It shall be used as a reference point for planning teaching and learning programs, and for assessing student progress. Hence, these learning standards shall also be the bases to ensure quality in the ongoing development of learning resources, i.e. the teachers’ guides (TGs) and learners’ materials (LMs). The SHS curriculum follows the following learning standards: 1) key stage standards, 2) learning area standards per grade level, 3) content standards, 4) performance standards, and 5) learning competencies.

Setting learning standards are triggered by different demands across sectors. For instance, as national economies evolve, global enterprises need more workers with higher levels of technological, academic, and work skills in order for industries to compete globally. School and workplace learning must address these through reforms in the curriculum and training programs.

Meanwhile, many parents around the world are worried that their children will not be prepared for further schooling or work and have started lobbying for higher educational standards. Thus, according to the 2012 Talent Shortage Survey conducted by a US think tank, these competency requirements will have to be addressed by a standards-based curriculum, i.e. one that empowers learners to identify and solve complex problems, encourages them to think independently and to work with teams, and to exhibit the traits of leaders no matter what their job in an organization.

For DepEd, articulating these learning standards is a means to communicate the purpose and intended results of the Enhanced BEP (K to 12) to the public, especially the SHS program. At the school level, it can serve as a guide to organize and share curriculum, assessments, and instructional methods among teachers across grade levels. For school heads, it can be a guide to focus school improvement plans to improve quality of teaching and learning. An extensive discussion of these learning standards per learning area and grade level can be found on the DepEd website. This volume provides a snapshot of the different components of SHS and descriptions of subject offerings, from the core to specialized subjects across the different tracks.

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Senior High School (SHS) Curriculum Flexibilities

The Senior High School (SHS) Curriculum is already in place and a set list of subjects make up the SHS Core, Applied Track and Specialized Track Subjects. However, the following flexibilities are allowed:

For Core Subjects

In Grades 11 and 12, students shall take 15 core subjects. The core subjects are based on the eight learning areas and taken by all SHS learners: 1) Language; 2) Humanities; 3) Communication; 4) Mathematics; 5) Philosophy; 6) Science; 7) Social Science; and 8) Physical Education and Health.

Every subject in the core curriculum is compulsory and has a time allocation of 80 hours.

However, curriculum flexibility allows for two subject substitutions, provided that the replacement subjects must have the same competencies with the subjects to be replaced. For example, Oral Communication may be substituted with a similar subject such as Speech and Discourse for as long as the competencies that are supposed to be developed in Oral Communication are also developed through the alternate subject.

Regardless of program offering, there should be at least 13 subjects consistent, in content and competencies, with the approved SHS curriculum and must use the approved curriculum guides.

For the Specialized Track Subjects

In Grades 11 and 12, students shall take 9 specialized or 9 subjects totaling 720 hours. The specialized track subjects contain different curriculum content and competencies that are unique to the chosen track and strand. Curriculum flexibility for the specialized track subjects can be done in several ways:

a. Allow for three subject substitutions, provided that the replacement subjects are related to the field of specialization. For example, in HUMSS, 3 subjects may be replaced by other HUMSS subjects which may be more related to the college course that learners will pursue after SHS.

b. Provide for various models for work immersion. See DepEd Order No. 30, s. 2017 for reference.

c. Allow for the creation of a new set of 9 specialization subjects which follow the Curriculum Development Process (a separate issuance will be released regarding this process).

d. For the General Academic Strand, there should be at least four subjects consistent in content and competencies, with the approved SHS curriculum. This is so because GAS allows for two electives. If the electives are to be taken from the other academic strands or TVL specializations, such electives must be consistent in content and competencies with the approved SHS curriculum and use the approved curriculum guides.

Mark Anthony Llego

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