"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Media Multitasking

It seems that everyone tends to multitask nowadays especially with smart phones. Even young kids are now claiming that they are capable of attending to more than one activity at the same time. Of course, our cognitive functions are really limited that oftentimes what we think is multitasking is actually switching between tasks. Thus, there is concern that performance is compromised as we keep trying to do more than one thing at a time. In addition, there is a worry that multitasking may actually degrade one's cognitive skills. Well, there is a study that now points out that media multitasking is most probably not a cause but a result of poor executive function ability.

The study, Media Multitasking in Adolescence, published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, looks at more than 70 eight grade students to see if there is a relationship between media multitasking and the following cognitive and behavioral measures:
  • MCAS Math 
  • MCAS English 
  • Count span 
  • N-back 
  • Filtering 
  • Comprehension 
  • Vocabulary 
  • Calculation
  • Growth mindset 
  • Grit 
  • Conscientiousness 
  • DSIS-C (impulsivity) 
  • Processing speed 
  • Pegboard (dexterity)
Media multitasking is indeed found correlated with poorer scores in the Math and English tests. Multitasking is also associated with poorer executive function ability and working memory. Adolescents who watch more than one medium at a time are also more impulsive and are less likely to have a growth mindset. However, these relationships apparently do not apply to other kinds of cognitive or perceptual–motor performance or other personality measures. 

What is surprising is that ironically, those who tend to multitask are those who should not be multitasking since they have poor self-control and working memory. It appears then that multitasking does not influence behavior, but in fact, is a result of a person's poor executive function. Multitasking appears to be simply a manifestation of a person's poor self-control. Multitasking is not associated with intelligence, thus, the negative correlation seen between media multitasking and test scores is most probably due to both multitasking and poor test performance originating from the same cause, poor executive function ability. 

Back in 2008, Christine Rosen of the The New Atlantis, reminded us of Lord Chesterfield's words:
“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time. This steady and undissipated attention to one object, is a sure mark of a superior genius; as hurry, bustle, and agitation, are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind.”
Multitasking does not make us dull. It is a symptom of our lack of self-control. 

Above copied from the New Atlantis

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Lessons from Estonia

"“What [we] saw in Estonia was not a new education system, it was an old one. By every account they did not change the system after the wall came down…. It’s hardly surprising they continued to get great re­­sults.”, Marc Tucker, president of National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington, D.C, was quoted in an article on the Hechinger Report. Estonia has a nine-year compulsory basic education program. And Estonia now ranks 11th in math and reading and 6th in science out of the 65 countries that participated in an international test that compares educational systems from around the world, called the Programme for International Student Assessment.

Above copied from Estonia.eu
Factors responsible for Estonia's success are identified in the report. These are:

  • Focus on equity
  • Teacher autonomy
  • Free early childcare
  • Socio-economically integrated schools
  • No academic tracking
The takeway message:

“We really follow the straight line that everyone is equal. It doesn’t matter what kind of family you come from, you can still achieve a lot.”

Karin Lukk, principal of Tartu Kivilinna Kool

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

When Primary Education Is Ineffective

"Although the objectives of primary education include developing the cognitive competencies of the student, few schools in developing countries achieve this goal, largely because of the previously identified poor schooling conditions. As a result, there are three undesirable consequences: to few children complete primary school in developing countries; students who do complete are often poorly educated; and consequently, the adult labor force is uneducated." This is what Marlaine Lockheed wrote in one of the chapters of the book "Effective Schools in Developing Countries". Poor schooling conditions consist of: a curriculum that is inappropriate in scope and sequence; inadequate teaching and learning materials; inadequate learning time; and ineffective teaching practices. DepEd's K to 12 may be getting a lot of attention at the moment, but in the last four years, Grades 1 through 4 in primary education have already changed. And sadly, these grades have changed for the worse as the above four poor schooling conditions have only been magnified.

International funding of education in developing countries has not missed the fact that primary education is important. In fact, funding directly to primary education is second only to higher education, as shown by Birchler and Michealowa:

Above copied from Birchler and Michealowa
The problem is that the focus has remained on enrollment. Of course, it is important that children are in school. However, enrollment can be a meaningless number, Quantity often does not mean quality. In fact, as enrollment number increases, limited resources can be stretched even further leading to a significant deterioration in quality.

Primary education is important. Quality in primary education is also necessary. It is not mere attendance that leads to later success in life. The key is the cognitive development that should happen in primary schools. This fact is clearly demonstrated in a recent study published in the American Educational Research Journal. With a 20-year longitudinal data set, clear correlations between performance in the elementary grades and later educational attainment are seen. The following table from the paper summarizes the results:

Above copied from
Katherine Magnuson, Greg J. Duncan, Kenneth T. H. Lee, and Molly W. Metzger. Early School Adjustment and Educational Attainment. American Educational Research Journal 0002831216634658, first published on April 4, 2016 doi:10.3102/0002831216634658
Since the numbers above are shown as highest grade completed by Age 21/22, a coefficient of 0.21 under math and age 9/10 means that a student whose math performance is a standard deviation lower is likely to have completed about 2 1/2 months (0.21 year) less than the average. Those who do poorly in either math or reading are therefore less likely to finish high school. The numbers above suggest that to address school dropouts, one must pay attention to the elementary years. In mathematics, grades 4 through 6 are very crucial. In reading, grades 2 and 3 are consequential. And in terms of behavior, it's the child's behavior in the last years of elementary education that strongly correlates with future success.

With this, it is timely to review an old article posted almost two years ago on this blog.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Should DepEd's K to 12 Be Suspended?

When it is clear that a direction taken will either lead to nowhere or disaster, it is important to step on the brakes. DepEd's K to 12 must not only be suspended - it must be scrapped. There is in fact a new community page on Facebook that carries such message:

There are various reasons why the program must be discarded at this point. Any one of these reasons is adequate enough to call for a suspension of the new curriculum.

The Early Years of Learning

It is no secret that problems in basic education in the Philippines are evident already in the primary years. Adding two years at the end of basic education does not address the problems in the early years. Cornelio Reformina of the Emilia Foundation describes this vividly using the following analogy:
"The k-12 program is like adding 2 floors to a rickety 10-story building on a weak foundation."
Lack of Resources

Classroom shortages are widely known. Poor facilities and overcrowded classrooms are widespread. Teachers are also overworked and underpaid. Learning materials are not available. The government simply does not have the resources to implement K to 12. The following photo taken and posted on Facebook by Genaro Ruiz Gojo Cruz speaks volume with regard to the current predicament of schools in the Philippines. One must keep in mind that this is not a photo from a school in one of the regions devastated recently by typhoons. This is a photo of a classroom in Cocob Elementary School located in Zamboanga del Norte. These needs must be met first. Otherwise, any curriculum is bound to fail.

K to 12 Is Simply Inconsistent

One of the justifications given for K to 12 is decongesting the old curriculum. Proponents claim that too many topics are forced within a very short 10 year period. If this is true, K to 12 does nothing to solve this problem. The subjects covered in the new grades 7 through 10 are no different from the old 4-year high school. Take, for instance, the math and science subjects. The only difference is that a spiral curriculum is implemented but the coverage remains the same, the four years of junior high school are taking biology, chemistry, physics and earth sciences. In fact, algebra is taught in grade 7, which is no different from the old curriculum. On the other hand, the opposite has happened in the early years. Kindergarten up till second grade now focus on oral fluency while reading and writing are postponed. One can only imagine what a student needs to do during grades 4 through 6 in order to prepare for high school. The added two years at the end of high school come with its own content. These years are not from the old 10-year curriculum so these do not really decongest. The added two years come with a menu that says, "choose what you like, but only if it is available in your local school". Herbert Vego writes in Panay News:
"Look at some of the new modules K-12 has enforced. To name a few: Handicraft Production, Bread and Pastry Production, Caregiving and Electrical Installation and Maintenance. 
Why ram them all into high school kids? Does Luisto expect high school graduates to bake cake or baby-sit for a living right after high school graduation?"
Wrong Direction

The most important point, however, is that DepEd's K to 12 is simply the wrong direction. While other countries are looking into ways to improve the early years and provide a stronger foundation for learning, DepEd's K to 12 looks in the other way. The problems in basic education including dropouts are already happening in the primary years. Any program that is added much later to basic education simply does not address these problems.

Time is running out. DepEd K to 12 needs to be scrapped before it causes further damage to Philippine basic education and a generation of children.

Monday, June 20, 2016

What Students Need

Everyone who has something to say about basic education often advocate for the future of our children. At least, that is what they often claim. Unfortunately, people have different ideas regarding what students really need. Take, for instance, the question of curriculum, what appears to be important depends on who you ask. It does seem that way if you listen to people who are quite a distance from a classroom. Apparently, with teachers there is some sort of an agreement on what students really need. Students need content knowledge, conscientiousness, critical thinking, and study skills based on a recent survey of educators in the United States.

Above copied from ACT National Curriculum Survey 2016
In this survey, opinions from the workforce, supervisors and employees, are also included. The results are summarized in the following table.

Above copied from ACT National Curriculum Survey 2016
With the workforce, the common elements people think should be emphasized in the curriculum are reduced to two: Content Knowledge and Conscientiousness. It should not be surprising that five of the seven groups surveyed regard Content Knowledge as very important. It is equally expected that Study Skills fall to the bottom when it comes to the workforce. What is surprising is that for educators at all levels, Collaboration with Peers is taken as not that crucial for success. And except for early elementary educators, Speaking and Listening is not high on the list among most teachers.

The way the question is phrased, what weakness in a given area is most likely to contribute to a poor outcome, probably plays an important role in how the respondents answer. Asking a different question, for example, what makes an individual more competitive, may elicit a different set of answers. For instance, the Global Education Reform Movement or Germ, as Pasi Sahlberg puts it, "is a process where educational policies and ideas are lent and borrowed from business world, often motivated by national hegemony and economic profit, rather than by moral goals of human development". In the Philippines, DepEd's K to 12 is supposedly an answer to the question of what makes students globally competitive. It is clearly not an answer to what students need. Sadly, DepEd's K to 12 is even a poor response to making the basic education more globally competitive as Father Rolando V. de la Rosa points out:

Above copied from the Manila Bulletin
The difference in opinions perhaps comes from being blind, as Fr. de la Rosa says. People are being blind to what students truly need. For this reason, it remains of great importance to listen to teachers. Teachers probably know best where their students really are. Below comes from a Hunstman Awardee for Excellence in Education and an elementary school teacher who just retired, Judy Mahoskey.
"...A few years ago I spent a summer teaching in Kenya. Before going, I had a cerebral understanding of poverty and life in a third world country based on what I'd read/seen on CNN or 60 Minutes. But before actually experiencing it first hand, I couldn't possibly comprehend destitution. Just a couple of months of the sights, sounds and smells taught me that knowing about poverty and understanding poverty are not the same...

...Thinking optimistically, it's not that legislators or administrators don't care or don't want to help. Honestly, funds are limited, there's a lot to do, and people who are several steps removed from teaching make the decisions. They don't know, in a real sense, what it's like to deal with a class of 32 little kids, some who haven't had breakfast, others whose parents are in the middle of a messy divorce, others who are struggling with English, others with disabilities … the list goes on. 
Every field has challenges. In my case, the thing that got to me in the end was the feeling that I had absolutely no voice to improve the system. As a lowly teacher, one who loved my classroom, my students, and my community, I'd become tired of being patted on the head and told to just deal with the status quo. Sadly, the joys of the work were ultimately undermined by the frustrations of the system for me, and, I suspect, for others, as well....
It is profoundly frustrating to see an educational system overhauled by people other than educators. In medicine, opinions from doctors weigh significantly more than others'. In education, it does not seem to be the case.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Finishing high school

My father did not finish high school. He had to fake a high school diploma just to get a job as a security guard. But my father was my first teacher in mathematics. Back to the time when we were tending a small store inside Pasig market, my father made me add the sales for the day. Of course, there was the much more exciting activity, horse racing. The math here was not as straightforward. I had to figure out how much time a horse would take to finish a 1 1/4 mile race given its record on 7/8 mile race, as my father and I did our weekly Dividendazo review. My father taught me so much more than just math though. He taught me the skills and principles to survive in the mean streets of Manila. And he never failed to instill in me the perseverance and determination I needed to finish at least high school. In fact, one of the days I thought my father felt a true life accomplishment was when I told him the news that I was going to be in the star section in Manila Science High School for my third year. That to him sealed my chance of finishing secondary education. I guessed my father managed to do a bit more. I graduated in college from Ateneo de Manila, got my doctorate from University of Illinois, and secured tenure in a university in the United States. Most parents do take the education of their children seriously. It is really sad when the government does not. My father may have been poor but he is always on top of everything I need in school. My father easily gives up even a meal just to ensure I meet all the requirements. That is why it pains me whenever the school has some unnecessary projects that require money. Such commitment to provide whatever resources are necessary must be part of any curricular reform in basic education. It is in these terms that my father, a school dropout, knows so much more than education policy makers in the Philippines.

My father
Ray Vargas of the Parents Advocacy for Children's Education (PACE) says it well in his proposal:

Create a permanent committee in the department that caters to parent issues in education and appoint a parent (not solely academician, religious, etc.) to head that committee. If parents are partners, so be it. Don't treat them like clients in education.

Parents are not clients. They are essential partners in the education of children. They need to be heard. Most parents are like my father. They really want to see their children finish at least high school.

And to all fathers, a Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

"The Dog Ate My Homework"

For the past school year 2015-2016, the Philippines' DepEd reported the following enrollment numbers in public schools for the following levels: Grade 6 (2.0 million), Grade 7 (1.7 million), Grade 8 (1.6 million), Grade 9 (1.4 million), and Grade 10 (1.3 million). The number of students enrolled in tenth grade reflects a 35 % decrease in enrollment from seventh grade. With the new grade 11 of DepEd's K to 12, 0.4 million are estimated not to enroll.  Four hundred thousand, by the way, is the difference between Grade 7 and 10 enrollments in 2015. Incoming secretary Briones must be having great difficulty in dealing with these numbers when she was quoted recently:
"With or without K-to-12, you will have just 50 percent, perhaps, of those who graduate from elementary to proceed [to high school]," Briones said. "DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said that, every year, there are about 1.2 million graduates in elementary, and roughly 50% of them drop out. That is in the record, with or without K to 12."
Briones should realize that an additional 400,000 dropouts effectively doubles the drop in enrollment seen over 4 years of high school. Doubling the dropout rate is not insignificant. It is catastrophic.

The teachers’ network Educators Forum for Development (EfD) is therefore asking the government to admit the actual toll of DepEd's K to 12:

Above copied from the IBON Foundation

Assessing something always requires honesty. Self-reporting is often a problem as numbers are adjusted to fit what one wants to convey. As a result, we are drawn to conclusions that are not really based on evidence.

In education research, self-reporting is often a problem even without a clear intention of deception. Take, for instance, the case of homework. In higher education, unlike in elementary schools, homework is essential as this provides opportunities for practice. How one measures the benefits of doing homework, however, depends on how accurately the amount of homework is measured. In a recent study to be published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, if one simply relies on what students report as the amount of homework they did, results will make you think that homework in college is a waste of time. On the other hand, if one uses a "smart pen technology", a good correlation between homework and learning outcomes is seen. In fact, the negative relationship between procrastination and achievement is also observed.

There is a long history of research efforts aimed at understanding the relationship between homework activity and academic achievement. While some self-report inventories involving homework activity have been useful for predicting academic performance, self-reported measures may be limited or even problematic. Here, we employ a novel method for accurately measuring students’ homework activity using smartpen technology. Three cohorts of engineering students in an undergraduate statics course used smartpens to complete their homework problems, thus producing records of their work in the form of timestamped digitized pen strokes. Consistent with the time-on-task hypothesis, there was a strong and consistent positive correlation between course grade and time doing homework as measured by smartpen technology (r = .44), but not between course grade and self-reported time doing homework (r = −.16). Consistent with an updated version of the time-on-task hypothesis, there was a strong correlation between measures of the quality of time spent on homework problems (such as the proportion of ink produced for homework within 24 hr of the deadline) and course grade (r = −.32), and between writing activity (such as the total number of pen strokes on homework) and course grade (r = .49). Overall, smartpen technology allowed a fine-grained test of the idea that productive use of homework time is related to course grade.

Unfortunately, in the case of the Philippines, a "smart pen" might not be enough to squeeze the truth regarding the true state of Philippine basic education. The Philippines' DepEd seems determined only to paint a rosier picture instead of understanding the problems and challenges schools in the Philippines face.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Save Our Schools

Edu Punay of the Philippine Star reports "An insider in the high court believes a decision stopping implementation of the K-12 program, which took several years in preparation under Republic Act 10533 (The Enhanced Basic Education Act), is “not likely.”" It is indeed a shame if a court decides on something in a manner one normally expects from an executive branch, and not on judicial grounds. The various petitions against DepEd's K to 12 clearly have merit and for the court to issue its verdict on reasons other than the rights of those who are affected by Republic Act 10533 would indeed be a sad chapter in this blog's quest to improve Philippine basic education. Nevertheless, it should be clear that so many points have been raised here not so much to discredit the number of years in basic education, but to highlight gross errors in both formulation and implementation of current education reforms in the Philippines. Thus, whether the court decides in favor or against DepEd's K to 12, this blog would continue pointing out what is good and what is bad in Philippine basic education based on evidence.

There is clearly something onerous in Philippine basic education. DepEd's K to 12 only epitomizes a relinquishing of control of public education to the oligarchy and various business' interests. A Supreme Court that allows for K to 12 to continue basically tolerates the fundamentally antidemocratic means by which DepEd's K to 12 has spawned.

Basic education is not a business but a sacred responsibility of the government. The group Philippine Business for Education has recently reiterated its 7-point education reform agenda which includes:

(1) Crafting a long-term, strategic national development plan
(2) Ensuring good governance in reform efforts
(3) Commitment to lifelong learning for all
(4) Reimagining formal education
(5) Strengthening the alternative learning system (ALS)
(6) Responding to the challenges of today’s world, such as globalisation and climate change
(7) Working together in new and better ways, via industry-academe-government partnerships

In the United States, on July 8, a people's march for public education and social justice is scheduled. For this march, Save Our Schools has the following agenda:
  • Full, equitable funding for all public schools
  • Safe, racially just schools and communities
  • Community leadership in public school policies
  • Professional, diverse educators for all students
  • Child-centered, culturally appropriate curriculum for all
  • No high-stakes standardized testing

The points from Philippine Business for Education and Save Our Schools are like "night and day". The former thinks in terms of efficiency while the latter emphasizes equity. Rita Cucio raises an important question in her Facebook post below:

If businessmen are the ones running our schools, where are we going to pick up our citizens? In the gutter, perhaps.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Why Being in School Matters

When school comes to mind, it seems that math and reading are often the first things people prioritize. But school should be so much more. After all, being in school takes a significant amount of time in an individual's growth. For this reason, leaving school does so much more that alternative learning systems for adults should not really become an option. It is imperative then that all efforts must be exhausted to keep children in school. Past the teens, excellent opportunities have been lost. Schools should provide children ample time to explore and discover the world around them and their own hearts and minds. Last night, I watched my son's 4th grade class perform "Ode to Joy". I did not have such an opportunity when I was growing up which made me realize that my son's school was indeed making the most of my child's time.

With the above fresh in my mind, I would like to take you back to a previous post in this blog,

Music, Arts and Physical Education

In the Philippines, these subjects are combined with health to form one learning area called MAPEH (music, arts, physical education, and health). In Fairfax county in Virginia, music, arts and physical education are called "specials" while health is in a separate subject with science and social studies.

The following shows the time allotment in DepEd's K to 12 for the various learning areas:

Above copied from DepEd order no. 31, s. 2012

And below is an example of a class schedule in Fairfax county.

Above copied from Mason Crest Elementary School

Monday, June 13, 2016

"Students Need to Attend School Daily to Succeed"

When a student is not in school, formal education simply can not happen. Worse, when a teacher is absent, an entire class misses one school day. Outgoing secretary of education in the Philippines, Armin Luistro brags that this year is the "best class opening thus far". This statement ironically comes with an admission that around 200,000 to 400,000 students are possibly dropping out of high school this year. Roy, a seven year old, has his photo holding a "Junk K to 12" sign posted on Facebook. Roy has never stepped into a school. Einstein Recedes, who posted Roy's photo, states a sad realization that he may just be a product of an educational system that places profit above service.

Above photo copied from Einstein Recedes' Facebook page
Sarah Eliago shares a different story. Also on a Facebook post, a photo of Senior High School students sitting on the ground is displayed with the caption, "There maybe Senior High School, but there is no teacher to teach".

Above photo copied from Sarah Eliago's Facebook page

Eliago also notes on another post that in the high school near the headquarters of the Philippines legislature, only 680 slots are available for senior high school, obviously short of the expected 2000 incoming students and yet, only 89 have enrolled.

In the United States, its Department of Education just released new data on absenteeism. The following chart shows that in some states, chronic absenteeism (defined as missing school for at least three weeks) has reached 20 percent.

Above copied from The Detroit News
20 percent is indeed alarming. In the Philippines, out of 1.3 million incoming senior high school students, DepEd reports that only 530,000 have enrolled. That is less than fifty percent. Perhaps, the data on enrollment are coming in late, but there is no doubt that a large fraction are not returning to school.

"Students Need to Attend School Daily to Succeed", this is what the report, "The Importance of Being in School: A Report on Absenteeism in the Nation’s Public Schools", from the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University says:
Missing school matters:
  • In a nationally representative data set, chronic absence in kindergarten was associated with lower academic performance in first grade. The impact is twice as great for students from low-income families.
  • A Baltimore study found a strong relationship between sixth-grade attendance and the percentage of students graduating on time or within a year of their expected high school graduation.
  • Chronic absenteeism increases achievement gaps at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
  • Because students reared in poverty benefit the most from being in school, one of the most effective strategies for providing pathways out of poverty is to do what it takes to get these students in school every day. This alone, even without improvements in the American education system, will drive up achievement, high school graduation, and college attainment rates.
DepEd secretary Luistro obviously fails to see this, the same way he fails to see that this year's school opening is NOT the best class opening so far.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Learning to Read: One of DepEd's K to 12 Big Lies

Those who support DepEd's K to 12, like Aquino, seem too quick to claim quality, but their claims are not really supported by evidence. While this blog demonstrates clearly what is wrong with DepEd's K to 12, some defend the new curriculum with a clear ignorance of what the new curriculum really is. Take, for instance, the issue of reading. The outgoing president of the Philippines, Aquino, once said, "At the core of our children’s non-learning problems is the inability to read properly. By the end of the next administration (SY 2015-16), every child passing pre-school must be a reader by Grade 1. Essential to this, we must build a library infrastructure in our schools, procure reading books (from our Philippine publishing industry to support local authors and publishers) and train our elementary teachers on how to teach reading. By the end of the next administration, every child must be a reader by Grade 1." There is actually nothing in DepEd's K to 12 that will help make this happen. This is simply a blatant lie.

Here are DepEd's K to 12 class schedules (copied from DepEd memos). For Kindergarten:

Here are the schedules for elementary school:

One can compare the above with class schedules that are meant to make every child a reader by Grade 3 (Notice that this is a much less loftier goal than Aquino's). Below are sample schedules of classes in public schools in Georgia that are implementing the "Reading First" program. The blocks of time dedicated to language arts are in bold.

Kindergarten Daily Schedule

This kindergarten teacher has the support of a paraprofessional for small-group time.  Notice that differentiated instruction occurs during workshop time.  Also notice that there are three read-alouds each day. 

Arrival, Breakfast, Attendance
Math Calendar
Math Lesson
Core Read-aloud: comprehension strategies; oral comprehension; print-book awareness, story discussion, story selection vocabulary 
Snack and Bathroom break
Vocabulary: pre-teaching, functional definitions, sentence usage, correlates with red section 
Whole Group Phonics (GREEN)
Warming up, phonological and phonemic awareness, alphabetic knowledge, pre-decodable and decodable books, poem read-aloud
Word analysis, writing process strategies, grammar, usage, mechanics
Includes: independent reading, listening center, working with letters and words, computer
Every 15 minutes groups rotate to the next center until completing all activities (Teacher works with a group, paraprofessional  works with a group and other group works on independent activities)
Handwriting/other language activities
Rotation: M-Computer, T-Media Center, W-Phys. Ed., Th-Phys. Ed, F-Art
Science/Social Studies – Theme related read-aloud
Summarize, pack up backpacks, clean up

First-Grade Schedule
This first-grade teacher works alone.  Notice the number of read-alouds and the plan for diversification by genre; also notice the use of center activities to facilitate flexible groups for differentiated instruction.

Attendance, Lunch choices
Language Arts
Warming up Activity
Phonemic Awareness – oral bending, segmentation daily
Phonics – Introduction of sound/spelling card, sound/spelling story, sound/spelling drill, blending, developing oral language
Dictation and spelling – word building, etc.
Decodable Book
Comprehension – oral comprehension, etc. 
Vocabulary – Word analysis 
(Read-aloud #1 – poem or short story)
Includes: independent reading, listening station, word works, writing, word wall, computer (Every 15 minutes the groups rotate to their next center until completing all 4 centers) Exception: when individuals are pulled to work with the teacher
Math Lesson
Math Meeting
Read-aloud #2 – chapter book
Social Studies/Science through literature
(Read-aloud #3 – fiction/nonfiction)
Center activities (intervention, remediation, enrichment – based on individual needs)
Writing – Complete core reading lesson
Read-aloud #4 – newspaper/magazine/tradebook
Second-Grade Schedule (Only Includes Reading)

Notice the use of literacy work stations so that children can practice and reinforce their literacy skills while the teacher works with small groups.  That structure allows her to provide differentiated instruction, with more work with phonics and decodable books for those students who need it, and more work with grade-level materials for those who do not need additional phonics.

Second Grade Teachers
(60 min,)
Whole Group Instruction

Shared Literature
Choral Reading
Sight Words

20 min.
15 min.
15 min.
10 min.


(60 min.)

Small Group Instruction

Phonics skills
Basal story
Decodable books
Leveled Readers

Literacy Work Stations
(2-3 students to a station)

Reading Corner
ABC/Word Study
Big Books
(15 min.)
Whole Group Instruction

Read Aloud

15 min.

Total = 135 min.

Third-Grade Schedule
This third-grade teacher begins the day with comprehension strategy instruction and makes time for needs-based work by using both cooperative and independent activities.  Notice that there are two blocks for science and social studies. 

Morning Work/Write down homework
Interventions (Buddy Reading)
Whole Group
-Strategy Focus
-Comprehension Skill
-Word Work (spelling, structural analysis, phonics, vocabulary)
-Writing and Language (Grammar and Writing)
Leveled Readers Needs-based Groups
-Reading Group 1
-Literacy Centers Group 2 (Fluency, Partner reading, Comprehension, Listening, Phonics, Writing, Computers)
-Independent Work Group 3 (Silent Reading, Skill review)
Whole Group
-Teacher Read-aloud (Comprehension, Vocabulary, Strategy Focus)
-Writer’s Workshop
Restroom Break

Water and Restroom
Science/Social Studies
Transition for specials
Specials (Art, Music, PE, and Lab)
Science/Social Studies (Dismissal)

So, here is the comparison:

Unlike the class schedules of schools in Georgia, it is not easy to calculate how much time DepEd's K to 12 really devotes to reading since much of its first grade is oral and three languages are simultaneously being taught. In the above, the time for DepEd's K to 12 is simply the total time given to English. 

Being able to read at third grade is very important. Here is a repost of an article on this blog.

"There's More to Reading than Meets the Eye"

I am sure a lot of people can read the posts in this blog. Almost everyone can decode the Latin alphabet. Understanding what each post in this blog says, however, is a different story. "There's More to Reading than Meets the Eye."

We have heard this goal: Every child a reader by the end of Grade 3. Grade 3 is about 8-10 years in age. It is also the same time that a child must have learned how to add and subtract. Philippine president Aquino is even more ambitious. He wants every child to be a reader by first grade. Reading and arithmetic are the very first steps in learning. These skills are in fact necessary for learning. Information and new knowledge is obtained via reading. The higher math skills are likewise dependent on the basic number operations. Failure or delay in acquiring these skills presents substantial challenges in the upper years of education. Remediation is not only loss of time, but also missed opportunities. With the current understanding of how the brain develops, paying attention to the early years is now even more important. Better Brains for Babies from the University of Georgia explains this quite well in the following excerpt:
Pruning is a key process that shapes the brains of young children. Synaptic overproduction causes synapses to develop extremely rapidly. The pruning process refines these connections based on experience. Connections used regularly become stronger and more complex. Connections not used are considered non-essential, and the brain eventually prunes them away to increase efficiency. 
As an example, an infant's brain has connections that allow her to hear sounds from all languages in the world. During the early years, the brain strengthens connections for sounds in the languages she hears regularly. Over time, the brain eliminates the connections for other sounds. This is why most adults have trouble distinguishing sounds that are not in our language.
The time periods for brain development are not set in stone. The stages are likewise not abrupt. Thus, goals, such as "Every child a reader by grade 3", are best estimates, or in this particular case, a good limit.

Back in 2010, the Annie E. Casey Foundation published a report, Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters:

To read more, download Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters
The following are some of the highlights of this report:

Why reading proficiently at the end of Grade 3 matters a lot:
  • After Grade 3, students are now expected to read to learn. Children who cannot read at this point likewise suffers in science and math since textbooks and other printed learning materials on these subjects are incomprehensible.
  • Reading proficiently at this grade level is strongly correlated with high school graduation rates, as well as earning potential, global competitiveness, and general productivity.
What factors undermine grade level reading proficiency:
  • A readiness gap exists right at school entry
  • This gap starts at child birth, it correlates with birth weight and prenatal health
  • This gap widens during the toddler years, again correlating with early health problems as well as lack of exposure to to early interactions that foster linguistic development.
  • Poor development in social and emotional skills contributes to this gap.
  • The gap widens during formal schooling since oftentimes students who need the most are given the least resources.
  • Chronic absences from school exacerbate this gap.
  • Children who are exposed to problems outside school interfere with these crucial years of learning.
What constitutes a good reading instruction: (The answer to this is provided by a National Reading Panel from the US National Institutes of Health, authorized by the US Congress in 1997)

Above captured from Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters
The report from the Casey Foundation likewise adds a section on English-language learners. For this, it borrows from a study by Linda Espinoza, "Challenging Common Myths About Young English Language Learners".

Above captured from Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters
Reading by Grade 3 involves not just learning a specific language. It involves cognitive development that goes beyond recognizing or comprehending a given language. Reading is different from oral language. Mother tongue based instruction must likewise assist a child in developing cognitive skills that are necessary for learning in the following years. The ability to manipulate sounds in words, knowledge of relationships between written letters and sounds, understanding the meaning of words, ability to read rapidly, and the ability to gain meaning while reading, all of these equally apply to any language used in instruction. Choosing the mother tongue as medium of instruction indeed makes the school closer to home, but without the proper reading instruction, mother tongue based instruction likewise would fail. "There's more to reading than meets the eye."