Learning to Read: One of DepEd's K to 12 Big Lies

Those who support DepEd's K to 12, like Aquino, seem too quick to claim quality, but their claims are not really supported by evidence. While this blog demonstrates clearly what is wrong with DepEd's K to 12, some defend the new curriculum with a clear ignorance of what the new curriculum really is. Take, for instance, the issue of reading. The outgoing president of the Philippines, Aquino, once said, "At the core of our children’s non-learning problems is the inability to read properly. By the end of the next administration (SY 2015-16), every child passing pre-school must be a reader by Grade 1. Essential to this, we must build a library infrastructure in our schools, procure reading books (from our Philippine publishing industry to support local authors and publishers) and train our elementary teachers on how to teach reading. By the end of the next administration, every child must be a reader by Grade 1." There is actually nothing in DepEd's K to 12 that will help make this happen. This is simply a blatant lie.

Here are DepEd's K to 12 class schedules (copied from DepEd memos). For Kindergarten:

Here are the schedules for elementary school:

One can compare the above with class schedules that are meant to make every child a reader by Grade 3 (Notice that this is a much less loftier goal than Aquino's). Below are sample schedules of classes in public schools in Georgia that are implementing the "Reading First" program. The blocks of time dedicated to language arts are in bold.

Kindergarten Daily Schedule

This kindergarten teacher has the support of a paraprofessional for small-group time.  Notice that differentiated instruction occurs during workshop time.  Also notice that there are three read-alouds each day. 

Arrival, Breakfast, Attendance
Math Calendar
Math Lesson
Core Read-aloud: comprehension strategies; oral comprehension; print-book awareness, story discussion, story selection vocabulary 
Snack and Bathroom break
Vocabulary: pre-teaching, functional definitions, sentence usage, correlates with red section 
Whole Group Phonics (GREEN)
Warming up, phonological and phonemic awareness, alphabetic knowledge, pre-decodable and decodable books, poem read-aloud
Word analysis, writing process strategies, grammar, usage, mechanics
Includes: independent reading, listening center, working with letters and words, computer
Every 15 minutes groups rotate to the next center until completing all activities (Teacher works with a group, paraprofessional  works with a group and other group works on independent activities)
Handwriting/other language activities
Rotation: M-Computer, T-Media Center, W-Phys. Ed., Th-Phys. Ed, F-Art
Science/Social Studies – Theme related read-aloud
Summarize, pack up backpacks, clean up

First-Grade Schedule
This first-grade teacher works alone.  Notice the number of read-alouds and the plan for diversification by genre; also notice the use of center activities to facilitate flexible groups for differentiated instruction.

Attendance, Lunch choices
Language Arts
Warming up Activity
Phonemic Awareness – oral bending, segmentation daily
Phonics – Introduction of sound/spelling card, sound/spelling story, sound/spelling drill, blending, developing oral language
Dictation and spelling – word building, etc.
Decodable Book
Comprehension – oral comprehension, etc. 
Vocabulary – Word analysis 
(Read-aloud #1 – poem or short story)
Includes: independent reading, listening station, word works, writing, word wall, computer (Every 15 minutes the groups rotate to their next center until completing all 4 centers) Exception: when individuals are pulled to work with the teacher
Math Lesson
Math Meeting
Read-aloud #2 – chapter book
Social Studies/Science through literature
(Read-aloud #3 – fiction/nonfiction)
Center activities (intervention, remediation, enrichment – based on individual needs)
Writing – Complete core reading lesson
Read-aloud #4 – newspaper/magazine/tradebook
Second-Grade Schedule (Only Includes Reading)

Notice the use of literacy work stations so that children can practice and reinforce their literacy skills while the teacher works with small groups.  That structure allows her to provide differentiated instruction, with more work with phonics and decodable books for those students who need it, and more work with grade-level materials for those who do not need additional phonics.

Second Grade Teachers
(60 min,)
Whole Group Instruction

Shared Literature
Choral Reading
Sight Words

20 min.
15 min.
15 min.
10 min.


(60 min.)

Small Group Instruction

Phonics skills
Basal story
Decodable books
Leveled Readers

Literacy Work Stations
(2-3 students to a station)

Reading Corner
ABC/Word Study
Big Books
(15 min.)
Whole Group Instruction

Read Aloud

15 min.

Total = 135 min.

Third-Grade Schedule
This third-grade teacher begins the day with comprehension strategy instruction and makes time for needs-based work by using both cooperative and independent activities.  Notice that there are two blocks for science and social studies. 

Morning Work/Write down homework
Interventions (Buddy Reading)
Whole Group
-Strategy Focus
-Comprehension Skill
-Word Work (spelling, structural analysis, phonics, vocabulary)
-Writing and Language (Grammar and Writing)
Leveled Readers Needs-based Groups
-Reading Group 1
-Literacy Centers Group 2 (Fluency, Partner reading, Comprehension, Listening, Phonics, Writing, Computers)
-Independent Work Group 3 (Silent Reading, Skill review)
Whole Group
-Teacher Read-aloud (Comprehension, Vocabulary, Strategy Focus)
-Writer’s Workshop
Restroom Break

Water and Restroom
Science/Social Studies
Transition for specials
Specials (Art, Music, PE, and Lab)
Science/Social Studies (Dismissal)

So, here is the comparison:

Unlike the class schedules of schools in Georgia, it is not easy to calculate how much time DepEd's K to 12 really devotes to reading since much of its first grade is oral and three languages are simultaneously being taught. In the above, the time for DepEd's K to 12 is simply the total time given to English. 

Being able to read at third grade is very important. Here is a repost of an article on this blog.

"There's More to Reading than Meets the Eye"

I am sure a lot of people can read the posts in this blog. Almost everyone can decode the Latin alphabet. Understanding what each post in this blog says, however, is a different story. "There's More to Reading than Meets the Eye."

We have heard this goal: Every child a reader by the end of Grade 3. Grade 3 is about 8-10 years in age. It is also the same time that a child must have learned how to add and subtract. Philippine president Aquino is even more ambitious. He wants every child to be a reader by first grade. Reading and arithmetic are the very first steps in learning. These skills are in fact necessary for learning. Information and new knowledge is obtained via reading. The higher math skills are likewise dependent on the basic number operations. Failure or delay in acquiring these skills presents substantial challenges in the upper years of education. Remediation is not only loss of time, but also missed opportunities. With the current understanding of how the brain develops, paying attention to the early years is now even more important. Better Brains for Babies from the University of Georgia explains this quite well in the following excerpt:
Pruning is a key process that shapes the brains of young children. Synaptic overproduction causes synapses to develop extremely rapidly. The pruning process refines these connections based on experience. Connections used regularly become stronger and more complex. Connections not used are considered non-essential, and the brain eventually prunes them away to increase efficiency. 
As an example, an infant's brain has connections that allow her to hear sounds from all languages in the world. During the early years, the brain strengthens connections for sounds in the languages she hears regularly. Over time, the brain eliminates the connections for other sounds. This is why most adults have trouble distinguishing sounds that are not in our language.
The time periods for brain development are not set in stone. The stages are likewise not abrupt. Thus, goals, such as "Every child a reader by grade 3", are best estimates, or in this particular case, a good limit.

Back in 2010, the Annie E. Casey Foundation published a report, Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters:

To read more, download Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters
The following are some of the highlights of this report:

Why reading proficiently at the end of Grade 3 matters a lot:
  • After Grade 3, students are now expected to read to learn. Children who cannot read at this point likewise suffers in science and math since textbooks and other printed learning materials on these subjects are incomprehensible.
  • Reading proficiently at this grade level is strongly correlated with high school graduation rates, as well as earning potential, global competitiveness, and general productivity.
What factors undermine grade level reading proficiency:
  • A readiness gap exists right at school entry
  • This gap starts at child birth, it correlates with birth weight and prenatal health
  • This gap widens during the toddler years, again correlating with early health problems as well as lack of exposure to to early interactions that foster linguistic development.
  • Poor development in social and emotional skills contributes to this gap.
  • The gap widens during formal schooling since oftentimes students who need the most are given the least resources.
  • Chronic absences from school exacerbate this gap.
  • Children who are exposed to problems outside school interfere with these crucial years of learning.
What constitutes a good reading instruction: (The answer to this is provided by a National Reading Panel from the US National Institutes of Health, authorized by the US Congress in 1997)

Above captured from Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters
The report from the Casey Foundation likewise adds a section on English-language learners. For this, it borrows from a study by Linda Espinoza, "Challenging Common Myths About Young English Language Learners".

Above captured from Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters
Reading by Grade 3 involves not just learning a specific language. It involves cognitive development that goes beyond recognizing or comprehending a given language. Reading is different from oral language. Mother tongue based instruction must likewise assist a child in developing cognitive skills that are necessary for learning in the following years. The ability to manipulate sounds in words, knowledge of relationships between written letters and sounds, understanding the meaning of words, ability to read rapidly, and the ability to gain meaning while reading, all of these equally apply to any language used in instruction. Choosing the mother tongue as medium of instruction indeed makes the school closer to home, but without the proper reading instruction, mother tongue based instruction likewise would fail. "There's more to reading than meets the eye."