July 15, 2024

The first week of December is a rollercoaster of results for me. The roller coaster went high off the ground after watching some of the highlights of the SEA Games, however, hit the ground with a thud after reading the result of 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Thanks to modern technology, I was able to get informed although I and my 11 junior high school students were among the delegates of the Mountain Province Council to the 17th National Boy Scout of the Philippines jamboree in Botolan, Zambales.
PISA is a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that examines students’ knowledge in reading, mathematics, and science. Students who were examined were 15-year-old students from 79 countries. The results were alarming.
First, the Philippines scored the lowest in reading comprehension with an average reading score of 340, more than 200 points below China and more than 100 points less than the OECD average. Second, it is the second-lowest in mathematics, along with Panama. Third, it is still the second-lowest in science.
The PISA 2018 profile also revealed that the Philippines had the largest percentage of low performers in reading among socio-economically disadvantaged students and it had the highest percentage of students being bullied at least a few times a month.
As a mathematics teacher, I could not help but reflect and hope that society will not point at teachers and say that this is another “teacher-factor” issue. Besides, according to the OECD website, these results indicate the quality and equity of learning outcomes attained around the world and allow educators and policymakers to learn from the policies and practices applied in other countries.
Though reading and mathematics are two different subjects and are often taught separately, there is this children’s rhyme that seemingly links the domains of the three Rs – reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. One of the readings I had in college said that letters, symbols, and numbers are the primary methods of communication which shows that there is a natural connection for the integration of reading and mathematics in the school curriculum.
I came across this old research which shares strategies of learning language that can be applied to the learning of mathematics. These are: creating a meaningful and relevant context for the knowledge, skills and values of mathematics; realizing the starting point of interest in mathematics is the knowledge base of the students; providing opportunities for the learner to see the skills, processes and values of mathematics by the teacher’s modeling; continuing to build on the knowledge base and challenging the students’ scaffolding; facilitating the metacognition of the student by helping the student identify the learning processes and how he or she learns; assisting the learner to accept the responsibility for the construction of knowledge; and building a community of learners in a risk-free learning environment.
I believe that with everyone’s help, better results await.