"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

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Reading Achievement at Age 7 Is Strongly Linked to Adult Socioeconomic Status

Public school teachers in the Philippines are indeed worried about the new DepEd's K to 12 curriculum. As one comment I have read on Facebook says, "...There is no reading in grade one. What will happen to our pupils when they go to grade 2. All they could do right now is to express their ideas by speaking and singing. Is this not the same as kindergarten? Formal lessons in reading start only in grade 2... I really do not know where this new DepEd K to 12 curriculum will lead us. As they say, it is already here so we might as well embrace and do everything we can...." This comment agrees with what social news network Rappler reports regarding the first grade curriculum of DepEd's K to 12.  "Grade 1 students will be taking up 6 subjects for an entire school year. Each subject will be taught for a maximum of 40 minutes per day:

  • Reading and Writing in the Mother Tongue - 40 minutes
  • Oral Fluency in Filipino - 40 minutes
  • Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP) - 30 minutes
  • Mathematics or Arithmetic - 30 minutes
  • Araling Panlipunan (AP) - 30 minutes
  • Music, Arts, Physical Education, Health (MAPEH) - 30 minutes 
When the second half of the school year comes, a 7th subject, Oral Fluency in English, will be introduced. This subject will be taught for 40 minutes." 

The first grade curriculum in language is very different from the past because of the introduction of the mother tongue(MT)-based instruction:

The above figure, screen captured from

Isagani Cruz attempts again to explain DepEd's K to 12 curriculum in his column in the Philippine Star:
If they go to a Philippine public school, Pedro, Pablo, and Maria will know how to read only at the end of Grade 1 (fulfilling President Aquino’s promise of “Every child a reader by Grade 1”). If they go to a private pre-school, they will most likely be already reading and writing letters or even simple words before they get to Kindergarten. The gap between public and private schools is one of the reasons parents with ample means send their children to private schools.
The above paragraph of Cruz does not agree with the teacher's comment I quoted above. It likewise contradicts the schedule prescribed by DepEd. First grade students as prescribed by DepEd's curriculum are not taught how to read in English. The teacher is thus correct. Cruz, on the other hand, is talking about "being able to read by Grade 1", but only in the mother tongue. Of course, there is the question of what reading materials are currently available in the mother tongue. Without any materials to read, education in the mother tongue is likewise confined to oral fluency. Thus, the comment, "All they could do right now is to express their ideas by speaking and singing", is perhaps closer to what is true.

Reading is essential for learning and mathematics is required for developing thinking skills. A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science demonstrates a strong correlation between a child's ability to read and do math at age 7 and socioeconomic status 35 years later. The article, "Enduring Links From Childhood Mathematics and Reading Achievement to Adult Socioeconomic Status", is based on a longitudinal study that followed more than 17000 people from the year 1965.

 Chad Brooks of Business News Daily describes the findings of the above study in simpler terms:
"If you want to see which kids will grow up to be the most successful adults, visit their second-grade classroom, new research suggests... ...The researchers found that participants who had higher reading and math skills as children ended up having higher incomes, better housing and better jobs in adulthood. The data found, for example, that going up one reading level at age 7 was associated with a $7,750 increase in income at age 42. 
"These findings imply that basic childhood skills, independent of how smart you are, how long you stay in school, or the social class you started off in, will be important throughout your life," said the study's authors, Stuart Ritchie and Timothy Bates.
A longitudinal study spanning more than three decades such as this one is especially rare. Its major finding that early childhood skills in both reading and mathematics should not be ignored. Unfortunately, DepEd's K to 12 fails to learn from these very important life lessons.

1 comment:

  1. it strange that the paper you cite cannot differentiate from mothertongue education. from what we can tell, if you were skilled at reading mother tongue materials at age 7, then that correlates with higher likelyhood of success later on.