How Will We Measure Success?I recently met with Gary...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 21, 1993

How Will We Measure Success?

I recently met with Gary Dunkleberger of the Carroll County school administration regarding my reservations concerning the Outcomes-Based Education program in our schools. Mr. Dunkleberger was both courteous and thorough in his explanations and rebuttals to me, and I find that there are certain aspects of OBE which have value.

One positive result of utilizing the outcomes is the focusing and definition of individual curricula for each subject offered by our schools. Going from the general desired outcome to specific academic parameters seems to me to strengthen the academic programs. A second positive result is that the outcomes help focus and underline the necessity for the school system not only to educate, but to enable the system to achieve the goal of helping students effectively use what they have learned.

My philosophy still rejects the concept of outcomes as the overriding goal of the system for two reasons:

* As admitted, there is no adequate method of measuring the success of the process.

Measuring the success of OBE by educational results in other systems, as provided by Dr. Dunkleberger, is a tricky and probably misleading statistical process. Although test results were positive for the systems that have installed OBE, there are so many other factors that may have influenced those results which were ignored. These factors include changes in demographics of students, in teaching personnel, in social factors, in administration and management, etc. By ignoring all other possible factors in the change in test results, the results are not valid in concluding that OBE improved student performance.

I maintain that an educational system that specifies goals must specify the methods of measuring the success or failure of those goals. Frankly, when each of the outcomes is basically an analysis of attitudes, measurement is impossible.

* I feel very strongly that, once installed, the outcomes must eventually outweigh the academic in our school system. . . . The focus of top management will become the raison d'etre for all school employees. Those outcomes are truly a measurement of suitability for the economic world; in effect, a trade-school goal, when the true goal of an educational system must be educated graduates. . . .

My suggestion to the school system: After the specific curricula are defined, throw the outcomes into the garbage can and measure our students' learning.

van S. Sherman

Westminster

Taxpayers

The Carroll County Taxpayers Association was formed to increase public awareness of unnecessary government spending and other wasteful practices -- which affect us all -- and do something about it.

While to this point our principal thrust has been directed to our state and local governments . . . we must direct our attention to the national scene.

On Sept. 22, President Clinton dropped the health care bombshell. The ramifications of this proposal could affect us all for the rest of our lives. The national government is considering the North American Free Trade Agreement, which would in effect eliminate all trade barriers between our country and Mexico and Canada; whether good or bad, we will all be directly affected. Statehood for Washington, D.C., is also on the agenda -- another "biggie" for everybody. Then, of course, there is Somalia, Bosnia, the "re-invention of government," education legislation and on and on. All of these will profoundly affect our lives. . . .

Arthur B. Lego

Westminster

Bentley, NAFTA

The Sun has hit a new high in irresponsible journalism with the front page headline on Nov. 13, "Bentley cites offer of 'six figures' to switch to 'yes' vote on NAFTA."

The rest of the story is spent denying everything the headline states. . . . The Sun's headline, which as you well know provides all that most people read, leaves the impression that pro-NAFTA people offered Mrs. Bentley a bribe. Talk about a cheap shot! The Sun should know better.

ulian S. Stein

Union Bridge

It's Not Just Bigotry, Mr. Sullam

This is in response to Brian Sullam's column Nov. 7 concerning what he referred to as the call-in "Hateline" of the Carroll County Times. It's not your attack on the Times that I'm responding to, since I rarely, if ever, read the Carroll County Times, let alone the caller hot-line. Rather, it is Mr. Sullam's characterization of certain ideas as "loathsome" and therefore, JTC presumably, unworthy of public discussion, that really galls me.

The commentary challenges people to "hate in the open or shut your traps." Then it cites examples from the hot line that prove his point. I'd like to explore some of those examples:

* "Of course, whites can't riot to show our reaction because we're too busy working to pay taxes." I know a lot of people who say that, or at least think it privately. I would call these people "perceptive" or "observant," rather than loathsome, hate-filled cretins.

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