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Showing posts from November, 2015

Senior High School Years

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Analyzing the additional years of DepEd's K to 12 requires careful attention to details. For instance, proponents of the new curriculum are always quick to cite that the Philippines is the last country in Asia and one of only three countries in the world with a 10-year pre-university program. Unfortunately, such statement does not cover what is truly missing in Philippine basic education and what other countries are really doing. Without this thoughtful consideration, DepEd's K to 12 manages only to address the number of years but not the real challenges Philippine basic education faces.

Education programs can be uniformly classified using UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). ISCED 2011 has nine levels of education, from level 0 to level 8:

• ISCED 0: Early childhood education
• ISCED 1: Primary education
• ISCED 2: Lower secondary education
• ISCED 3: Upper secondary education
• ISCED 4: Post-secondary non-tertiary education
• ISCED 5: Short-cy…

Class Size and Learning Time

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The latest report from the OECD, Education at a Glance, released on November 24, 2015, provides data regarding the state of education in various countries. One of the chapters in this report deals with class size and its relationship to learning. The report states, "larger classes are correlated with less time spent on actual teaching and learning and with more time spent on keeping order in the classroom... ...Specifically, one additional student added to an average size class is associated with a 0.5 percentage-point decrease in time spent on teaching and learning activities...."

The following is the figure that captures this finding:

The Philippines is not included in the above study, but one can extrapolate where Philippine basic education currently stands. From a Rappler article by Jee Y. Geronimo published near the start of the current school year, the following class size can be used:



Extending the chart from OECD....


Add to this picture the widespread instances durin…

Thanksgiving: A Story for All Children to Hear

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Yatibaey Evans writes a thought-provoking article on Thanksgiving in the New York Times. Her first paragraph talks about the dark yet truthful side of American history. She is making the case of teaching children not just the sugar-coated events but also the failures and injustices of our past. A fuller picture in Evans' opinion may in fact shine light on lessons children should learn. Evans is currently the president-elect of the National Indian Education Association. She writes the article through the thoughts of her seven-year old son.

I was born in the Philippines. Growing up, I have been taught a thing or two regarding European colonists. It is not a happy story.

After finishing college and teaching for two years, I went to Chicago for my graduate studies and that was the time I was introduced to the Thanksgiving holiday. These past few weeks, even in the Karate school of my son, the master was taking time to teach the children that Thanksgiving was a time for working togethe…

Why DepEd's K to 12 Is Not Education for All

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DepEd's K to 12 adds two years to high school and its enabling act, Republic Act 10533 increases the number of years of compulsory education to thirteen from the six years of compulsory elementary education prescribed by the country's constitution. Public basic and compulsory education implies full responsibility of the government. Basic education means it should be available for all. Looking at what is available tells an entirely different story. It truly says a lot more about how the Philippine government has abandoned its task of providing basic education to all.

Jaq Eroles recently wrote an article for the Philippine Online Chronicles:


In the article, Eroles provides data on what type of Senior High School years are in fact available for students. Eroles uses text to relate the data. However, it maybe useful to translate these numbers into figures.

For the National Capital Region (NCR), out of 10 high schools, only 7 are able to offer Technical-Vocational-Livelihood track.

Pearson and Ayala: Profiting from DepEd's K to 12?

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Teach100 collects blogs on education and among its top five sites is Alan Singer's entries on Huffington's Post. The most recent post by Singer talks about a "scary story" from the Philippines.


Singer starts his article by citing Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg. Huffington Post has also recently shared a video on Finnish schools, highlighting their differences from schools in the United States:

Finnish schools are doing something right.Video: Fatherly
Posted by The Huffington Post on Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Of course, the differences between schools in the Philippines and from those in Finland are much more dramatic. For instance, the way teachers in the Philippines are treated compares miserably with how Finland treats its teachers.


Another glaring difference is the inability of the Philippine government to provide basic education to all. There are no private schools for basic education in Finland. On the other hand, the Philippine government encourages particip…

How Does Formative Assessment Help in Learning

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Formative assessment is not supposed to be just another buzz word in education. It is gathering of information on a regular basis regarding what students are learning and what students need. There is no doubt that such exercise is necessary to make a good connection between teaching and learning. Formative assessment unfortunately becomes a sound bite if it is taken as a magic bullet independent of other factors that define quality teaching. Formative assessment alone cannot improve learning as its effectiveness depends on other more traditional features associated with quality teaching.

In a paper published in the American Educational Research Journal, a group of German researchers has shown the important relationship between formative assessments and the more general features of quality teaching. The study involves 28 teachers and 551 third grade students from 18 public elementary schools in Germany who are learning a specific topic in science, floating versus sinking. The research …

How Effective Are College-level Courses in High School?

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DepEd's K to 12 senior high school years come in different tracks. One track is called the academic track which comes in four different strands, Business, Accountancy, Management (BAM); Humanities, Education, Social Sciences (HESS); Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM); and General. There are other tracks in senior high school: Technical-Vocational Livelihood, Sports, and Arts and Design. Regardless of track, the senior high school years are advertised to make each student college-ready. This of course suggests that the specialized subjects within the academic tracks are "college-level".

It is therefore useful to examine the effectiveness of taking college-level courses in high school. Fortunately, this question can be addressed by looking at educational systems that already offer college-level courses in secondary school. The United States K-12 system is one great source of data for this inquiry. High school students in the US are given the opportunity t…

The Phases of the Moon

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My son and I were gazing at the moon last night. My son's grade 4 class is currently studying the different phases of the moon. Although we regularly see the moon's appearance in the sky change over the course of every month, this concept is actually quite complex and misconceptions are quite common. For one, it is tempting to explain that the earth is casting its shadow over the moon. In one study involving preservice teachers, it is found that nine out of ten hold an alternative conceptual understanding of the reason behind the different phases of the moon.
There are videos available on the internet that attempt to explain the phases of the moon. Below is one example from the National Science Teachers Association

The video clearly states the necessary facts to help understand the different phases of the moon: First, the moon orbits the earth, and second, half of the moon - the one facing the sun is always illuminated. Unfortunately, the above does not address directly com…

What Is Necessary for a Child to Learn Arithmetic

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Adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing whole numbers are the essentials of arithmetic. The next level in elementary schools involves fractions and decimals. When students are struggling in elementary mathematics it maybe useful to investigate what abilities correlate with the skills that are important in elementary mathematics. A recent study focusing on at risk fourth grade students from a southeastern metropolitan school district in the United States offers some clues.

The research work, Cognitive Predictors of Calculations and Number Line Estimation With Whole Numbers and Fractions Among At-Risk Students, first looks at the following measures.

Incoming calculation skills Nonverbal reasoningLanguageConcept formationWorking memory (numerical)Working memory (sentences)Processing speedAttentive behavior The authors then examine which one(s) correlate with a student's performance in whole number calculation and representation on the number line.
Likewise, the same investigatio…

Personalities versus Policies

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Philippine politics will remain in its current quagmire if we continue to discuss personalities and not the actual issues. Seeing celebrities as political candidates in the coming Philippine election leaves very little hope.

Similarly, Philippine basic education will continue to deteriorate if we cling on ideology instead of evidence. A year ago, Steven J. Klees and Omar Qargha wrote in the journal Prospects a scathing comment against the World Bank:
The evidence for how private education leads to better achievement is also very weak. Despite the many studies of private schooling and student achievement (with indeterminate results), the push for privatization is based on ideology, not evidence. Some years ago, one of us attended a meeting at the World Bank, soliciting comments on a health-sector– oriented World Development Report. The Bank’s presenter pointed out that, in many poor countries, poor people chose to be treated at private health clinics for a fee instead of going to free p…

Misinformation in Philippine Basic Education

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Arithmetic is one of the basic subjects in elementary school. Students need to learn what it means when something doubles. Yet, the Philippine government is the first to teach wrong arithmetic. The government claims that teachers' salaries are going to double when in fact this is a gross misrepresentation.

The following is a screenshot of an official release from the Philippine government:


The title is clear but if one reads the article, the first sentence tells a different story: "Public school teachers and nurses will be paid twice more compared to their private counterparts...." Salaries are therefore not doubling.

Misinformation, however, is not the only big mistake the government is making in the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) of 2015. One glaring error is how the government equates delivery of basic education and health care to a private enterprise. With this perspective, the government then justifies raising the salaries of mid-level and executives. As a result,…

Unified Petitioners Against K to 12

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The following is a press release from the Unified Petitioners Against K to 12 in the Philippines:


Unified Petitioners Against K to 12 (UPAK) PRESS RELEASE for 13 November 2015 (Friday) rally

Anti-K to 12 rally on Friday the 13th:
Opening Salvo for anti-APEC actions in PH

The Unified Petitioners Against K to 12 (UPAK), a group formed by at least seven blocs that filed K to 12-related petitions at the Supreme Court, vowed to bring thousands of students, teachers, parents and concerned citizens together in a national rally against K to 12, to be held at the Supreme Court on November 13, as an opening salvo for further anti-APEC mobilizations in the country.

In a statement, UPAK labeled K to 12 as a “curriculum that does not fit the needs of the Philippines, imposed by First World-dominated multilateral organizations such as APEC and the World Bank, entities that usually serve the needs of industrialized countries only while perpetuating poverty and lack of development in developing nations l…

We Should Learn from Assessments

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In "We Aren't Using Assessments Correctly", professor of education John Hattie quotes University of Illinois' Bob Stake: "When the cook tastes the soup, it is formative; when the guests taste the soup, it is summative." Clearly, the cook tasting what he or she is preparing helps the cook decide if the ingredients are just right or not. Both cook and guests taste yet their objectives are different. Children in the early elementary years are obviously still in the early stages of basic education. Assessments of their learning at this stage should really speak more about ourselves, the educators and teachers. But as Hattie points out, this is only possible if we know how to interpret correctly these assessments.

We could learn from assessments that have been written properly and appropriately. For this reason, a good teacher often uses tests he or she has personally written. Of course, there are those who write assessments like the Partnership for Assessment o…

We Learn from Our Mistakes

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Do we really learn from mistakes or does failure eventually teach us to avoid the challenge and simply give up? Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, a team of cognitive neuroscientists, Stefano Palminteri, Mehdi Khamassi, Mateus Joffily, and Giorgio Coricelli found that given the chance to reflect on our mistakes, we can turn a failure into a positive rewarding experience. Their work published in the journal Natureshowed that when an individual who made a mistake was given enough information to contextualize the choices he or she had made, the brain started to switch from an avoidance circuit into the positive reward-based track for learning.

With this recent finding in mind, one can look at a study published more than a year ago by Manu Kapur, head of the Learning Sciences Lab at the National Institute of Education of Singapore, in the journal Cognitive Sciencewith a fresh perspective.The study entitled Productive Failure in Learning Math compares two ways to teach math. Both…

Learning Facts by Testing

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Knowledge is built on learning facts. Even in chemistry, the fact that atoms in the gas phase can produce a line spectrum is the first step in understanding the electronic structure of atoms. Understanding history, without any doubt, hinges on learning facts. Even with Google, one could not really find pertinent information without knowledge of the correct keywords to use. Basic education therefore can not do without building a child's memory.

My son, who is in fourth grade, is currently being introduced to Virginia's history. This week's topic covers the various Native American tribes of Virginia. Right at the beginning, the challenge is obvious. The names of the tribes and the languages used look really foreign to both of us.


The major tribes are: (1) Cherokee, who lived in the southwestern region of the state and spoke Iroquoian, (2) Monacan, who lived in the Piedmont region (central part of Virginia) and spoke Siouan, and (3) Powhatan, who lived in the tidewater or co…