"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, July 15, 2015

A Correlation Between Poverty And Teachers

In mathematics, international standardized exams place Philippine students near the bottom in terms of performance. Equally dismaying, findings of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) show that math teachers in the Philippines, compared to those of other countries, likewise demonstrate low Mathematics Content Knowledge (MCK) and Mathematics Pedagogical Content Knowledge (MPCK).

Above copied from
Blömeke, S., Suhl, U., Kaiser, G., & Döhrmann, M. (2012). Family background, entry selectivity and opportunities to learn: what matters in primary teacher education? An international comparison of fifteen countries. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28, 44–55.

There exists a very strong correlation between academic performance and poverty. An achievement gap defined by socioeconomic status is undeniable. The relationship between poverty and teachers likewise highlights poverty's strong grip on education. Data from the National Center of Education Statistics in the United States provide a clue on how poverty further impacts basic education. Students who enroll in teaching schools often come from families of lower income.

Above copied from the Atlantic's Rich Kids Study English

Since the IEA's study includes teachers from the Philippines, a closer examination of the background of these teachers only adds fuel to the observed correlation between poverty and academic performance. Teachers in the Philippines, along those from other weak performers (Botswana, Chile and Georgia), have less books in their homes and have no access to a computer.

Above copied from
Policy, Practice, and Readiness to Teach Primary and Secondary Mathematics in 17 Countries
Findings from TEDS-M

In the above, the number of books and access to a computer at home can both be used as proxy indicators of socioeconomic status. The results above provide guidance on how to address problems in basic education in the Philippines. It is true that these are only correlations, but the information points out clearly where reforms should first be targeted. If most teachers are coming from poor families then it only becomes obvious that improvements in education must begin in schools attended by poor children. The strong grip of poverty on education works at various levels. It even comes with a vicious cycle. Not addressing achievement gaps due to socioeconomic status at the basic education level leads to less prepared teachers, and therefore further deterioration of an educational system.

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