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…
In the General Chemistry class that I teach there is homework. I do find that homework is one place where technology can really help. My class currently subscribes to Sapling Learning. For each chapter, there is a set of about 20 problems and students generally have a week to finish these problems. The platform allows me to monitor each student's progress and anticipate difficulties students may be facing with the course material. The problems are not repetitive as each one has been chosen to focus on an important aspect or point within the chapter. The homework also offers an interactive learning experience as it provides hints and explanations. This can indeed benefit learning. After all, educational psychologists have demonstrated that practice problem solving and distributed practice are the most effective learning techniques.
For homework to be effective, it has to be done right. For instance, when students try to finish their homework an hour before the deadline, it defeats…
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…