Outcomes defended as sound Parents offered documents as proof

August 29, 1993|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Gary Dunkleberger wants to set the record straight, once and for all.

Carroll teachers are not going to be promoting a homosexual lifestyle to students in their outcomes-based education, said Dr. Dunkleberger, the director of curriculum and staff development for the county's public schools.

He also wants to clear up what he termed "misinformation" circulated by Carroll County Citizens for Quality Education, an activist group formed last spring out of dissatisfaction over a revised curriculum based on "exit outcomes."

The curriculum, to be implemented this year, employs seven broad goals, or "exit outcomes," that say graduates must be "able communicators, effective problem-solvers, collaborative workers, involved citizens, life-long learners, innovative producers and individuals with a positive self-concept."

The citizens group says the outcomes will lead to the promotion of homosexual rights and liberal politics, with class time being wasted on discussions on self-esteem and social problems to the detriment of academics.

Dr. Dunkleberger says the goals will lead to higher academic standards and accountability in the schools.

Opponents say outcomes will do away with letter grades.

Not so, says Dr. Dunkleberger. Several districts around the country have both outcomes and letter grades.

Dr. Dunkleberger hopes parents line up at his door to obtain copies of information that could untangle some of the confusion over outcomes-based education.

One is a list of goals the schools already have in place for first- through third-graders.

The other is an explanation of each of the seven broad goals the school board adopted in May. In that document, Dr. Dunkleberger said, the definition of "multicultural" should reassure parents that the term has nothing to do with homosexuality.

"I know we will not convince everyone," Dr. Dunkleberger said. But he said he is confident that parents who take the time to find out exactly what the schools are doing will be supportive.

Several PTA leaders and other parents have supported the new approach and participated in drafting goals and working on the curriculum.

Carroll County Citizens for Quality Education, which has fought the plan, says outcomes-based education will do away with grades, cost millions of dollars, promote immoral behavior and shift focus from academics to behavior.

None of that is true, said Dr. Dunkleberger. But he said he can understand why some parents are alarmed.

"I'm not sure that anyone could live in this community and not be confused and question what the school system is doing, after all the rhetoric and misinformation," he said.

Instead of relying on that misinformation, Dr. Dunkleberger said, parents should call his office to get the facts.

Outcomes-based education means the schools will set clear standards for what students should know and be able to do, he said.

School staff and parents spent the summer setting more specific goals for each course and grade level.

In a sense, they put the existing program into the language of outcomes: Instead of saying what a teacher would teach, this approach says what the "outcome" of that teaching should be.

It says what the student should ultimately learn.

One of the pieces of information cited by Dr. Dunkleberger tells what this educational approach means to a first-grader, a second-grader or a third-grader.

This list of course and unit outcomes was hashed out this summer by parents and teachers, who identified what the school system already expects children to have learned at various stages.

Over the next year, teachers will have a chance to comment on the list drafted this summer. Next summer, the schools will begin deciding what to add or remove.

What to know, when

Already, according to the list of existing outcomes, a first-grader should be able to describe how a shadow is made.

She should be able to interpret a simple line plot on a graph.

She should be able to identify north and south poles on a magnet.

Those are just three of 28 specific outcomes expected in first-grade science. There are other lists for each subject area for first, second and third grade.

In art, a second-grader will learn that print-making is a way of producing many copies of one image, the document says.

He will learn that crafts are functional.

He will be introduced to major artworks.

Fourth- and fifth-grade outcomes will be typed and ready for parents by the end of September. High school course outcomes will take a little longer because there are more courses and programs, Dr. Dunkleberger said.

He wanted to respond to several specific charges made by Citizens for Quality Education.

Cost of program

Group leader William Bowen of Westminster has said that a study by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found it would cost $16 million to implement outcomes-based education in five districts in that state.

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