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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Evidence-based Research Tells Us We Should Open Schools
There is currently an active discussion on what schools should do this coming Fall. I agree that the decision should be based on evidence. The burden of proof rests on school closures since the negative impact of children staying home is crystal clear. The mere fact that caretakers and health-care workers are stifled by school closures is very important to consider especially when hospitals and homes for the elderly are already facing difficult times. Whether school closures are effective in reducing the transmission of the novel coronavirus needs to be addressed. And it is to this question that research can provide an answer. Without any benefit of helping control the spread of COVID-19, school closure is simply damaging society. With almost half a year and more than a hundred countries affected, we have data that can help measure the effect of school closures on mitigating COVID-19. At this moment, research shows that school closures have little or no significant impact on the pandemic. This is, of course, in agreement with what we are seeing right now in the US. Schools are closed and yet, the number of cases continues to grow, a clear indication that the virus is spreading primarily in a manner so different from influenza. Thus, our previous understanding of how school closures help stop the spread of flu is very likely not applicable in the case of COVID-19. A recent study from Japan concludes that school closures in that country had no effect on the spread of COVID-19.
With the new K to 12 curriculum in the Philippines, various tracks are now offered in the last two years of basic education. The various options available obviously make it possible for students to find themselves later unprepared for the courses they decide to take in college. A student, for instance, who finishes the accounting business management (ABM) strand in the senior high school academic track, is now required to take additional courses if the student chooses to enroll in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) major in college. These additional courses which are now called "bridging programs" are either taken during the first year of college or over several weeks in the summer before college starts.
There are bridging programs in the United States, but these are different from the ones that are now appearing in colleges in the Philippines. In Coldwater High School in Michigan, for example, the "bridging program" is an option for students…
Science education is challenging. To some, science seems like a mere collection of facts waiting to be memorized. Not surprisingly, skills scientists exhibit are often emphasized in teaching science in primary and secondary schools. Since science does deal with a large amount of information about the world we live in, generalizations are greatly sought. Explanations that apply to a multitude of cases are theories worthwhile to both teach and learn. In high school, it is the deductive reasoning that is most often used to teach science. General rules are first taught and are applied to specific cases until a conclusion is reached. This is often called "top-down" logic. Drawing a hypothesis, performing experiments and making observations, and explaining the results is a common description of the scientific method. But scientists do not always work in this direction. There is likewise inductive reasoning or "bottom-up" logic. The difference between deductive and induct…
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…