K to 12: Preparing teachers for the big reform

Queena N. Lee-Chua

By Queena N. Lee-Chua
Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 1st, 2012

To implement the K to 12 curriculum properly, good teachers are essential.

Many teachers may be engaging and creative, but lack the skills to handle complex topics. As students put it, “The teacher is nice but incompetent.”

In 2004, the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) required teacher education institutions (TEIs) to implement the New Teacher Education Curriculum (NTEC)

The NTEC increased the major courses (subject content, or what to teach) and decreased general education (pedagogy, or how to teach).

Teachers should be able to “facilitate learning (among) diverse types of learners in diverse types of learning environments, using a wide range of teaching knowledge and skills.”

Hopefully, the teaching profession can then “keep pace with the demands of global competitiveness.”

Future HS teachers

Have teachers lived up to expectations?

No, according to the June 2010 CHEd Zonal Research Project by Ferdinand Lacuata and Kristina San Gabriel of National Teachers’ College (NTC), Editha Padama and Eduardo Lorico of Arellano University, Lourdes Aranzanso and Regina Capili of Far Eastern University, Jane Lacuata of the University of Santo Tomas, Murita Panganiban of Assumption College, and Arlyn Tumala of De La Salle-Antipolo City.

The study covered Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education students majoring in mathematics (122), biology (112), and English (134) from three TEIs in the National Capital Region (NCR).

In tests given to gauge knowledge and skills, all groups did poorly.

The researchers said, if 75 percent was the benchmark for minimum amount of actual learning, math majors achieved an average mean of 51.59 percent; English, 51.67 percent; and biology, 37.86 percent.

Elementary teachers

The report said future biology teachers lacked general and specific knowledge and understanding of biology, as well as knowledge of pedagogical theories that would make them understand how content and skills should be taught.

In a 2006 survey by NTC researchers, commissioned by the Math Teachers Association of the Philippines (MTAP), results were no better.

MTAP is the largest association of math teachers in the country.

Covered by the study were 542 elementary and secondary education students majoring in math from 16 private and 14 state colleges and universities in the NCR.

Scores of future elementary teachers ranged from 55 to 73 percent, while their secondary counterparts scored even lower, 53 to 65 percent.

“Both groups would be incompetent teachers of math, since their scores indicate low clinical readiness,” says MTAP president Sr. Iluminada Coronel, FMM.

Future grade school math teachers “were very incompetent” in whole numbers and decimals, fractions, ratio and proportion, geometry and measurement.

The future high school teachers did badly in variation, quadratic equations, sequences and progressions, systems of linear equations and inequalities, among others.

Study of TEIs

In 2008, future math teachers in eight of the most influential TEIs in Metro Manila were surveyed.

The schools were De La Salle University Manila, St. Scholastica’s College Manila, Philippine Normal University, National Teachers’ College, University of Makati, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and Arellano University.

These schools, among the best in the country, have either a Bachelor of Science in Math or in Math Education course.

The research team included representatives from each school: Richard Pulmones, Celia Cruz, Rosemarievic Villena, Auxencia Limjap, Milagrina Gomez, Lilia Lagrimas, Jimmy Romero, Archieval Rodriguez and Arlyn Tumala.

First, the good news: Some 79.3 percent of respondents said their schools were either partially or fully implementing the NTEC in math education. This indicates that most future math teachers are aware of the new curriculum.

Now the bad news: “Sixty percent of the respondents admitted they were not involved in the preparation of course outlines, particularly in the new subjects prescribed in the NTEC,” the report says.

“More than 80 percent of the respondents claim that they have not taught major courses like modern geometry, advanced statistics, history of math, action research in math, seminar in technology in math, instrumentation in math, math modeling, and seminar in problem solving,” the report says. “These are the new subjects in the NTEC.”
Implementation

When asked about their confidence level in teaching various math subjects, “the respondents have no answer.”

While graphing calculators and computer math software were available, these were not used often.

What accounts for such dismal performance in all three studies?

Hasty implementation and poor information dissemination, for one.

“The professors of the future teachers stressed the absence of academic conferences and seminar-workshops for them to understand fully the new curriculum,” reports the 2010 CHEd Project.

“The curriculum just came down to their hands in the form of CHEd memos. No clear instructional programs have been set in place.”

In contrast, according to Education Secretary Armin Luistro, training of teachers for the K to 12 curriculum has already begun.

DepEd teachers have been undergoing retooling and, in turn, they are expected to train teachers in regions, then divisions, then municipalities.

The Grades 1 and 7 curricula, to be implemented in June, have already been sent out to schools.

Resources

Some private schools that can do so are preparing to train and retrain their teachers this summer.

Luistro says mass training for public school and some private school teachers is scheduled starting in late April and will continue till May.

Another reason for poor teacher performance is lack of resources.

Aside from lack of course syllabi, “the availability of instructional materials, specifically updated references, was the most frequent concern,” says the 2008 study. “(So) was the availability of computer software and other technical materials.”

Luistro says the Department of Education has been working with groups like the Fund for Assistance to Private Education (Fape) to make available digitized resources for most subjects in K to 12, not just math.

Originally intended for out-of-school youth, the computer-aided instructional materials “were so good that we decided to roll them out in regular high schools,” Luistro says.

Pre- and post-tests showed that the blended-learning resources could be effective.

“Even if teachers are not so good, with these resources, students can have access to good materials,” Luistro says.

Mastery

Insufficient teacher mastery of the subject is another reason for poor performance.

Does the problem lie with the teachers of the teachers?

The 2010 CHEd report says professors of future teachers need “depth of disciplinary knowledge for them to be able to teach effectively the major courses.”

But many do not possess such expertise. TEIs are not prepared to do the new curriculum.

In the TEIs, many professors have Doctor in Education degrees (Ed.D.), a “linear preparation to teach education students, especially professional education courses, but not a preparation that entitles them to teach major courses,” the report says.

“Their academic preparation, which is Ed.D. in educational management and leadership, does not entitle them to teach with confidence major courses such as modeling for math, biochemistry for biology and stylistics for English,” the report says.

Luistro says DepEd is looking into the possibility of asking specialists to handle content-heavy subjects, particularly in the junior and senior high schools, even if they have not taken the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET).

“They have to be properly qualified, of course,” Luistro says. “A BS Math graduate can be asked to teach high school math, even without doing the LET, but only on a part-time basis.”

“We cannot hire them full-time, because the law requires elementary and high school teachers to have a license,” he says.

I have previously written about cases of accountants, engineers, and other professionals who want to and who can teach math and science, but were turned down because they did not take the LET.

To critics who say these are not “real teachers,” Luistro says part-timers will be given seminars to learn the appropriate pedagogy and instructional methods.

Quality

The 2006 study says, “TEIs must look at their policy concerning the selection of education students who would opt to major in math. Policies must be made stricter so that only the more capable students are admitted. Or the hopefuls may exert more effort to be qualified.”

Luistro points out, “In government, whether in teaching or in other areas, no one has ever been dismissed for incompetence. People have been dismissed for corruption, but not for incompetence.”

In most schools, teachers with tenure, however incompetent, cannot be fired without due cause.

Luistro says, “So we have to work with them. We have to continue to train and retrain them to be able to do K to 12 well.”

E-mail the author at blessbook@yahoo.com.

2 thoughts on “K to 12: Preparing teachers for the big reform

  1. The article and so is the “plans” for reformation, was a good material for reading but that’s all there is to it… the new program, I believe was not carefully planned and will be another failure in the making…

  2. Given enough support by the stakeholders and the government, I think the k-12 curr. reform is going to succeed. With the MTB-MLE that is now operationalized, problems on low academic performance, dropout and repetition rates will now be properly addressed by DepED. Let’s not just keep our fingers crossed, but let’s
    join hands with DepED and together we can cross the bridge!

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