A blog that tackles issues on basic education (in the Philippines and the United States) including early childhood education, the teaching profession, math and science education, medium of instruction, poverty, and the role of research and higher education.
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What Makes a School Successful
Years ago, John Tierney wrote an article in the Atlanticthat criticized our obsession with national rankings of school districts. After all, as Tierney pointed out, very few could really afford to move from one state to another just for a "better school". This point becomes even more evident with international rankings. Rankings, however, putting aside vanity, could be somewhat useful if schools that did well were able to provide us with some information of what actually worked. EducationWeek tried to do this in its most recent Quality Counts 2018 report. Five traits were found to be common among the high-performing states:
Like a family that is in a good financial situation, a state that is doing well economically has much more time and energy to worry about things beyond the basic needs. High graduation rates and scores in standardized exams correlating with quality is really no surprise. Resources do count and a higher budget per student means smaller classroom size, better instructional materials and equipment, and special services. A community that has a large fraction of college graduates translates usually to a better economy and greater opportunities for parental involvement and support. Lastly, these top states provide good early childhood education.
Perhaps, the above list is a useful template for other states to follow. This may then make the ranking not so much of a waste of time. Unfortunately, a majority of these common traits are really beyond what a basic education policy can provide. Policies in schools do not easily translate to higher test scores, better economy, or college participation. There are, however, two traits that can help inform education policy makers: high spending per pupil and a good early childhood education.
When the Philippines embarked on its ambitious K to 12 curriculum, there was indeed some attention paid to early childhood education. After all, the new curriculum did introduce and require kindergarten for all. The weakness lies in ignoring the "good" in good early childhood education. Quality does count and this quality is not possible without funding. This is the reason why high spending per pupil also appears as a common trait. This is where the Philippines' K to 12 has missed the urgent need to focus one's limited resources to the early years of education. This is where adding two years to high school misses what really counts in basic education.
TANONG: ANO ANG KTO12 PROGRAM? SAGOT: Ang Kto12 Program ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas ay tumutukoy sa pagkakaroon ng mandatory o required na kindergarten at karagdagang 2 taon sa dating 10-year Basic Education Cycle. Kung noon, pagkatapos ng anim na taon sa elementarya at apat na taon sa hayskul (kabuuang 10 taon) ay maaari nang makapagkolehiyo ang mga estudyante. Sa ilalim ng Kto12, bago makapagkolehiyo, kailangan pa nilang dumaan sa karagdagang 2 taon pagkatapos ng apat na taong hayskul. Sa bagong sistema, tinatawag na senior high school o junior college ang karagdagang 2 tao…
People have strong opinions about almost anything and the issue of education is no exception. How these opinions have been formed needs to be examined. This is what good research does. It informs and guides. A myriad of factors influence education and oftentimes, these factors are not independent from each other. Factors interact, sometimes these add, and other times, these subtract. General notions therefore need to be carefully drawn. Writing articles on education can also be quite challenging. When problems in basic education involve an inability to think critically, it is difficult to reach the audience and convey the correct message. Oftentimes, sarcasm is lost so such style of writing needs to be avoided. For people who are convinced of their wisdom and understanding of how education works, profound messages from basic research can be often easily lost.
There is information to be gained from data. Tests in schools can be informative. Scores of students provide a quick glimpse of the current state of education. Thus, it is useful to have these numbers. These numbers may not tell everything in detail with high accuracy. Nevertheless, test results allow for a useful perspective. The National Achievement Test administered by the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Philippines, a set of standardized tests addressing the major subjects taught in school, is an example. These tests are given to Grade 3 where students are assessed in both English and Filipino (These two subjects comprise two thirds of the exam) and Math and Science (These two account for the remaining one third). A different set of tests is given to Grade 6 pupils where each of the following 5 subjects is assigned 40 items: (Science, Math, English, Filipino and Social Studies). Another set is administered to fourth year high school students (This is currently the last year…