Home Language and Scholastic Achievement: The Philippine Case

Flores, Penelope Villarica

     In a country where the language of the school is different from the language of the home, the use of a particular home language as a cultural family resource can be an important determinant of academic performance. This study analyzes the correlates of scholastic achievement among Philippine high school seniors. It takes the position that any Philippine scholastic achievement model that ignores the language of the home is a misspecified one.
     The data used are the 1973 National College Entrance Examination (NCEE). Achievement in English and mathematics is seen as a function of socioeconomic status, home language, mental ability, economic advantage, student expectations, school types, and region. The measurement of the variables is at the individual level; the units of analyses are at the national, Mindanao, and ethnolinguistic group levels.
     In general, the results of the multiple regression supported the hypothesized model. However, there were interesting deviations. Females in Mindanao from unschooled paternal backgrounds outperformed their counterparts significantly. Selectivity did not explain these exceptions. Particular home language speakers consistently showed low performance on the NCEE no matter how the sample was analyzed. Further, the inclusion of home language variables in the model unmasked the advantaged and disadvantaged segments of the population controlling for exogenous and antecedent factors. The different educational production functions for the different ethnolinguistic groups attest to the plurality of the Philippine data.
     Entering a perceived language proficiency variable turned out to be more complex than anticipated. Its negative significant coefficients on scholastic achievement raises some questions on the use of perceived language proficiency in current bilingual and educational achievement research.
     In general, the national and Mindanao pattern of significant variables appear to be similar. However, institutional factors not significant in the total sample are observed to be significant in Mindanao. Particular language home speakers perform differently outside and within Mindanao. Mental ability is consistent strong factor in academic performance, and although student aspirations and expectations capture much of the explanatory power of the model, much of the total variance remain unexplained.
     This study reveals the scholastic achievement performance of Philippine 16-year-olds at a particular time in a context of social and educational change.