Poor Reading Comprehension Skills and Poor Performance in Math and Science

High school education in the Philippines faces two huge problems: Poor reading comprehension skills and poor performance in Math and Science. It is tempting to correlate the two areas and suggest that the dismal performance in math and science is due to poor reading skills. If this is the case then the solution lies in addressing reading challenges in the elementary years of education. Research, however, shows that there is indeed a correlation, but not a significant one. Poor performance in math and science therefore not results not merely from poor instruction in reading, but from poor instruction across the board.

Ombra A. Imam and coworkers specifically looked at more than 600 first-year high school students, from both private and public schools in Cotabato City. Their findings were in agreement with those of standardized international exams as well as the National Achievement Tests in the Philippines. The study was designed to examine various reading comprehension skills and how each of these skills correlates with performance in math and science. The correlation study with math was published in the International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education, while the study on science was published separately in the Asia Pacific Journal of Educators and Education

The results are as follows:

Reading Comprehension

Above copied from
Asia Pacific Journal of Educators and Education


Above copied from
International Journal of Evaluation and Research in Education

Above copied from
Asia Pacific Journal of Educators and Education

Seeing the dismal performance across the board, it is indeed tempting to suggest that the students are not performing well in math and science because the students are unable to comprehend what they are reading. This, however, is not true, if one correlates the scores between reading comprehension and either one of the two, math and science. The correlation coefficient between reading and math is only 0.059, which basically shows no relationship. The coefficient obtained for reading and science is a bit higher, but still insignificant, 0.10. 

There is no reason to think that the above findings only hold for schools in Cotabato City. Cotabato City schools belong to Region XII. In 2012, the National Achievement Test scores for grade VI pupils from Region XII (72.60) are actually higher than those from the National Capital Region (59.87).  These results can therefore be taken to represent those of the entire country. These are results that point to the real challenges schools in the Philippines currently need to address. The problems are occurring well before tenth grade or fourth year high school. And the problems are across the board. 


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