A More Reasoned Voice

September 13, 1993

It is worth noting that on the same day that one more report bemoaning the state of American literacy was released, a group of Carroll County parents announced they had produced a 17-minute video to educate the community about outcomes-based education.

The appearance of Parents Responding to Outcomes-Based Education should provide the necessary balance to a debate opponents to this particular program have skewed.

Even if the state of American literacy isn't as dire as the report says (47 percent of America's adults were found to have "poor" literacy skills), the report's implications are frightening. Far too many adults don't have the verbal or mathematical competency required by employers in this increasingly sophisticated economy. Even worse, the nation's schools don't seem to be producing competent graduates with the necessary skills for a highly technological society.

Even though Carroll County's schools are among the best in Maryland, four years ago the school board began a project to improve the performance of the county's graduates. After much research and discussion, the board has decided that the outcomes-based model -- one that clearly defines academic goals -- would be the most effective way of improving student performance.

The approach is designed to preserve proven teaching methods and curriculum while making room for innovative techniques and materials. The board has called this program "Exit Outcomes" and expects to integrate it into the curriculum slowly, beginning next school year.

Even though the public has been involved in the development of the "Exit Outcomes" program, its opponents claim it contains a hidden agenda that is designed to subvert traditional values. They maintain, without any convincing evidence, that the new program will focus on behavior and values at the expense of traditional academics.

Until the formation of PROBE, the only proponents of "Exit Outcomes" were school administrators and board members involved in its creation, who obviously had a vested interest.

PROBE members are parents who participated in the workshops held this past June and saw the benefits of "Exit Outcomes." The only stake these parents have in "Exit Outcomes" is creating better schools for their children, which makes them extremely credible and powerful advocates for the new program.

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