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LLE 2008: Reasons for
Drastic Drop in Passing Rate

Number of Examinees and Passers, 1992-2008

First, the facts. The 2008 Librarians' Licensure Exam (LLE) had the most number of examinees (1,003) and the lowest passing rate (24 percent) since the exams began in 1992. The number of schools represented by the examinees has increased in the past three years from 105 (2006) to 130 (2007) to 142 (2008). The three schools with the most number of first-time examinees in the last two years—namely Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Main-Sta. Mesa (PUP), University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP) and Philippine Normal University-Manila (PNU)—experienced astonishing declines in passing rates. And then, of course, there's the fact that this exam was the last chance for those with degrees other than bachelor's or master's degrees in library and information science (BLIS/MLIS) to take the exam. Starting next year, only those with BLIS/MLIS degrees will be allowed to take the exam.

Second, the possible reasons for the drastic drop in the passing rate. One is that while more graduates may have taken the exams, a greater percentage of them were just not good enough to pass. But this is based on the assumption that the 2008 exam was just as difficult as the 2007 one. Was it? Only those who drew up the questions and perhaps the ones who took both exams can tell for sure, but the results for the three largest contingents suggest that this year's exams were more difficult than the previous year's. For instance, the passing rates for first-timers from PUP and PNU dropped from 61 percent and 75 percent last year, respectively, to 18 percent and 59 percent this year. But the most compelling evidence that the exams were harder in 2008 was the decline in the passing rate for UP, which has always had at least 93 percent of its graduates getting their licenses. In 2007, 100 percent of UP's first-timers passed the exam; this year, only 85 percent did. This, however, assumes that the 2007 and 2008 graduates of PUP, PNU and UP received the same kind of training and were of comparable competence. It seems unlikely that the current batch was significantly less capable than their predecessors, but the reality that this is the last year that non-BLIS/MLIS degree holders can take the exams could have pushed some to go for it even though they weren't ready or put undue pressure on those who knew this was their one and only chance. This particular theory, though, goes out the window if the 6 UP examinees who didn't pass were all BLIS/MLIS graduates.

Finally, my conclusion. There are probably other possibilities, including disruptions at the testing site (it happened in 2004), misleading instructions and checking or computational errors, but my guess is that the drastic drop in the passing rate was a combination of the reasons offered above. If I had to choose just one, I'd say the exams this year look like they were harder than in 2007, and it just so happened that there were many more examinees who took it.

Leave a comment if you have other theories =)

See also "Librarians' Licensure Exams: 1992-2007."

Note: The data used for this post are from the files sent by the PRC to different newspapers in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008; and those for 1992-2001 are from "The professionalization of librarians in the Philippines" (pdf) by Antonio Santos.

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