The Condition of Secondary School Physics Education in the

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The Condition of Secondary School Physics
        Education in the Philippines:
   Recent Developments and Remaining
  Challenges for Substantive Improvements

                                Antriman V. Orleans
                            Hiroshima University, Japan

This study is aimed at assessing the state of Philippine secondary school physics
education using data from a nationwide survey of 464 schools and 767 physics
teachers and at identifying challenges for substantive improvements. Teacher-related
indicators revealed academic qualification deficiency, low continuing professional
involvements, substantial physics teaching experience, and good licensure status.
Academic environment indices revealed that the number of physics classes per teacher
is manageable, but the individual classes are large. Results also showed limited
instructional materials and technologies, the unpopularity of professional mentoring,
and favorable library and internet access. Based on these findings, challenges to
developing a larger pool of competent physics teachers and equipping schools with
relevant instructional devices were identified.

The current state of science education in the Philippines, particularly in the basic
education level, lags behind other countries in the world. The results of the Second
International Science Study (SISS) and Third International Mathematics and Science
Study (TIMSS) placed the Philippines in disadvantaged positions among participating
nations (Philippine Department of Education, Culture, and Sports et al. 2000). In the
SISS, the Philippines ranked almost at the bottom of the list of seventeen (17) nations
which took part in this large-scale evaluation of educational achievement. Similar
outcomes were revealed in the 1995, 1999 and 2003 TIMSS.

The Australian Educational Researcher, Volume 34, Number 1, April 2007            33

In the different science subject areas, achievements in physics of Filipino students
appeared below the international standards (US Department of Education National
Center for Education Statistics 2000, International Association for the Evaluation of
Educational Achievement 2004). The Philippines ranked third and fourth to the last in
the list of nations in the 1999 and 2003 TIMSS respectively. Findings of Philippine-
based studies (Calacal 1999, Capistrano 1999, Orleans 1994, Figuerres 1985) also
present the same conclusion of low student achievement in physics.

This poor student achievement has prompted educational researchers worldwide to
continuously identify factors that can account for academic outcomes in the
classroom. Some research suggests that factors inside and outside the classroom affect
student achievement, however, experts claim that the key factor in what comes out
at the end of schooling is what goes on in the classroom (California Education Policy
Seminar & California State University Institute for Educational Reform 1998).

In most of the reports after that of Coleman in the United States of America (Coleman
et al. 1996), research findings confirmed that teacher quality appears to be the most
important factor influencing student performance (Goldhaber & Anthony 2003,
Goldhaber 2002, Goldhaber, Brewer & Anderson 1999, Hanushek, Kain, & Rivkin
1999, Ferguson 1998, Wright, Horn & Sanders 1997). To illustrate, the data of the
proportion of measured variance in mathematics test score gains from grades three to
five, developed in the Harvard Journal on Legislation 28 in 1991, show that 51% of
the influence on student achievement had to do with school factors and 49% with
student background (e.g. parents' education, income, race, & location). Forty-three
percent (43%) of the school factors were attributed to teacher quality alone (Darling-
Hammond 1998). Similarly, studies on the collected student achievement data from
the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (Sanders & Horn 1998, Wright et al.
1997, Sanders & Rivers 1996) and the data from a teacher evaluation system for the
Dallas Public Elementary Schools (Jordan et al. 1997) confirmed that among other
school-related factors, teacher quality has the greatest impact on students (Goldhaber
& Anthony 2003).

Teacher academic preparation, certification type, and years of teaching experience,
among others, are often taken as indicators of teacher quality (Goldhaber & Anthony
2003). Those teachers with sufficient academic preparation are seen to be competent
in subject matter content and pedagogical skills enabling them to be effective in
classrooms and produce larger student achievement gains (Darling-Hammond 2000).
Licensed teachers are also considered to be effective (Hawk et al. 1985), because
licensing typically requires prospective teachers hold a college degree in pedagogy
and in the subject they wish to teach (Goldhaber & Anthony 2003). Veteran teachers,
on the other hand, can better handle students and colleagues, and are more familiar

                                          PHYSICS EDUCATION IN THE PHILIPPINES

with classroom practices (US Department of Education, National Center for Education
Statistics 2000).

Experts also affirm that quality professional development involvement is an important
factor in building teachers' capacity to teach effectively (Mayer et al. 2001, US
Department of Education 1999, US Department of Education National Center for
Education Statistics 1998). Studies revealed that student achievement is correlated to
teachers' continued learning activities (Cohen & Hill 1997, Wiley & Yoon 1995, Brown
et al. 1995). Teacher confidence, too, has been regarded by the International
Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (Schmidt & Cogan 1996)
as being essential in qualifying teacher competence. This index has been considered
in the TIMSS.

School-related variables are equally vital in the teaching-learning process. Competent
teachers alone may hardly improve achievement, but they can advance student
achievement significantly when in tandem with state-of-the-art instructional devices.
With the increasing student enrollment, the exploding knowledge growth, the
mounting forms of distraction facing students' learning, the differences in students'
interests and approaches to learning, and the rising demands on students by the
present society, both print and spoken forms of media can no longer suffice to
achieve maximized learning. Varied and appropriate instructional materials are,
therefore, needed to make instruction and studying more motivating and

Research results confirm that instructional materials improved learning, if used
appropriately. Laboratory manuals (Curammeng 1993, Capili 1987), workbook/work-
text (Amid 1998, Flores 1989), learning modules (Ariota 1997, Plaza 1996), models
(Tribiana 1991), audio-visual materials (Lontayao 1999, Logmao 1997, Undag 1996),
computer-assisted instructional programs (Avila 1998, Corpuz 1998), and digital
technologies such as computer hardware, software, and internet (UK Department of
Education and Skills 2003, Becta 2003, Kington et al. 2003) are proven to be effective
in modifying learners' behavior and in facilitating effective acquisition of knowledge
and skills.

In sum, the above citations imply that constant evaluation of teacher competence and
high quality instructional materials are required to ensure excellent delivery of
instruction in the field. This assessment determines weaknesses and strengths in the
system, and identifies relevant challenges that can solve the ailing condition of a
country's education system. It can also serve as the basis for proposals and measures
to prevent recurring predicaments.


The Current state of Philippine Secondary School Physics Education
In an attempt to capture the condition of Philippine secondary school physics
education, this research did a national survey of 767 physics teachers in 464 schools,
from the 1,000 target schools was conducted. The sample schools comprised of public
(83%) and private (17%) schools supervised by the Philippine Department of
Education (DepEd). Of these school samples 44% are situated in urban areas and 56%
in rural districts. All 16 regions of the country are represented. Regions I to V
including the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and the National Capital Region
(NCR) are in Luzon, the northernmost group of islands of the Philippine Archipelago;
Regions VI, VII, and VIII are in the Visayas, the central island group; and, Regions IX
to XII, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and Caraga are in
Mindanao. Among the regions, NCR is the most urbanized and the second most
populated region. About 13% of the country's population lives in this small region
with a land area of 636 sq km comprising of 12 cities and 5 municipalities, making it
the most densely populated region in the country (Philippine NSO 2005). CAR has the
                                             smallest population, while Region IV has
                                             the largest. All regions, except NCR, are
                                             agricultural in nature, yielding primarily
                                             rice and other agricultural products. In
                                             terms of school distribution, Region IV
                                             has the greatest number of schools,
                                             holding 19% of the total public and
                                             private secondary schools in the country.
                                             ARMM has the least percentage of
                                             schools at 2%. The target schools were
                                             selected based on the total number of
                                             schools in each region. Figure 1 shows
                                             the location of these regions and the
                                             distribution of the participants in this

                                            School-Related Factors
                                            S c h o o l - related factors deemed to influence
                                            student achievement considered in the
                                            study are the following: number of physics
                                            classes in schools; class size; teacher access
                                            to professional help, libraries, and the
                                            internet; availability of instructional
   Figure 1: Regional Distribution          materials; and educational technologies
         of the Participants                that aid the teaching of physics.

                                                  PHYSICS EDUCATION IN THE PHILIPPINES

                        Ave. No. of                              Percentage Access
                                       Ave. Class
     Category            Physics
                                          Size        Professional
                         Classes                                     Libraries       Internet

            Public          8.0           56.9           48%           90%             68%
           Schools         (8.0)         (12.7)

           Private          3.1           42.3           43%           96%             80%
           Schools         (2.1)         (11.2)

            Urban          11.0           56.0           51%           94%             89%
           Schools         (9.5)         (15.0)

            Rural           4.2           53.1           38%           89%             55%
           Schools         (3.2)         (12.3)

                            7.1           54.4                         91%
      National                                           44%                          70%
                           (7.5)         (15.6)

          Table 1: Profile of Some School-Related Factors Considered
                     Note: Standard Deviations are enclosed in parenthesis.

Number of Physics Classes in Schools In the Philippine four-year secondary school
curriculum, students take only one physics class everyday for 72 minutes per meeting in
the fourth year. Covering topics from Mechanics to Modern Physics, this class stresses
conceptual discussions rather than the mathematical aspect of the subject.

The average number of physics classes in Philippine secondary schools is 7.1; and a
standard deviation of 7.5. Public schools reported substantially greater (at 95%
confidence level) number of physics classes, at 8.0, than private schools with 3.1.
Dispersion of the numbers of physics classes is also greater in public schools than in
private schools, as indicated by the larger standard deviation of the former. Urban
schools re g i s t e red statistically higher class number, 11.0 classes, than those in rural
schools, 4.2 classes. Superiority of urban schools over rural schools in terms of number
of physics classes can be attributed to population density. Urban areas account for 48%
of the country's population (Philippine NSO 2003). Variation in class numbers is smaller
in rural schools than their urban counterpart. Data also show that an interaction eff e c t
exists between school classification and school setting. Public urban schools tend to
have more physics classes than private rural schools. This occurrence can be accounted
for by the high population density in urban areas and the heavy state subsidy for public
school education. In addition, a significant variation in this statistic exists among the
regional groupings with Region III (Central Luzon) registering the highest number of
classes, 8.6, and Region XII (Central Mindanao) and ARMM the lowest, with 3.1.

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