Proposed new standards for students questioned

November 19, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

The questions about a body of essential standards -- called "outcomes" -- to be set for Carroll County public school students fell into two major categories at a public hearing in Westminster yesterday.

Concerns were over excluding black history and a failure to emphasize self-esteem and other emotional and interpersonal issues.

About a dozen members of Carroll County Women on the Move, a black women's organization, attended to oppose the exclusion of a goal that would promote awareness of different cultures and their histories.

Carroll schools already slight African-American history, said Cheryl Crandall, a special-education teacher at the Taneytown Elementary Annex and president of Carroll County Women on the Move.

"There are some African-American children who do not know of their own cultural heritage," Ms. Crandall said.

Carroll County is at the forefront of a nationwide trend toward "out comes-based education," said Superintendent R. Edward Shilling.

The concept means the school system will set standards for what students will know, be able to do and be like by the time they graduate, said Gary Dunkleberger, director of curriculum.

However, the standards will be more than graduation requirements, he said. At every level, from kindergarten up, student performance will be measured against these standards, he said.

Several other parents and educators urged teaching self-esteem, self-confidence and how to be an effective family member.

"We are not here to define family values, but to value the worth of all families," said Lorraine Fogle, a teacher at West Middle School and parent. She and others stressed the importance to teaching children the skills they will need to be effective parents to their own children.

"Unfortunately, children do not come with instructions," she said.

Yet another group of parents questioned the "outcomes" concept -- whether it has been proven effective, whether it will keep sight of basic skills and whether teachers will be trained to carry it out.

"Why is it desirable to institute a major revolutionary change?" asked parent and scientist Marc Damashek of Hampstead. "Is something broken now? Also, is there clear evidence this approach works?"

As an editor, he said, he considers the document badly written.

"The document we're holding in our hands has a lot of verbiage and a lot of jargon," he said, and is intimidating to a parent. "I can tell you, I'm a rocket scientist, and I find myself shaking my head."

More than 700 teachers, administrators, parents, students, business people and community leaders spent the past few months discussing and voting on the set of seven broad standards they agreed are essential outcomes of a good education.

Dr. Dunkleberger told the hearing yesterday that by a simple vote, the committee dropped any items that did not get an 80 percent approval from the participants.

As it is written now, the list says the three most critical standards are that students be able to communicate well, have a positive self-concept and be able to identify and solve problems.

The remaining four standards are that students learn to work well with others, continue to learn throughout their lives, create or at least appreciate the arts and be involved citizens.

At a "summit," held for some 700 participants, from the community, the self-concept outcome was the one most questioned. Some felt the schools were too busy to address that issue.

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