Education officials explain outcomes-based education to GOP club members

February 22, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

The pot still boils over with questions and concerns about outcomes-based education, as Carroll schools staff take their show on the road to explain the approach to the community, one civic group at a time.

At the latest in a series of talks to community groups, Gary Dunkleberger, director of curriculum, and Runnymede Elementary School Principal Barbara Walker spoke to about 20 members of the West Carroll Republican Club last night at St. Paul United Methodist Church in New Windsor.

One man said he disliked the concept even more after their talk.

The Carroll school system, like most of its counterparts around the state, is following a national trend toward outcomes-based education.

The approach means that the schools will clearly define what students should know and be able to do by the end of a unit, course and by the time they graduate.

For example, third-graders should be able, in their math classes, to "demonstrate an understanding of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division" and to "estimate sums and differences by rounding," according to materials Dr. Dunkleberger handed out.

Many in the audience complained about Carroll graduates not having basic skills for college or work. Some were concerned that an outcomes approach would worsen the problem, but Dr. Dunkleberger assured them the goal was the opposite.

"The way we do it now, some kids learn it and some kids don't," he said. "We move on and we don't have a choice."

One man asked whether that meant brighter students had to be idle while slower students caught up.

"It does not mean you make everybody stop until the last kid learns it," Dr. Dunkleberger said.

He said more creative possibilities include tutoring, summer classes and allowing slower students to take three semesters of algebra instead of two. North Carroll High School has done that this year.

"They never fail a child anymore," said Sheriff John Brown. "They're constantly pushed around."

He later commended Dr. Dunkleberger for using public talks to explain the concept.

But at least one man didn't like outcomes any better after hearing Dr. Dunkleberger.

"What you're saying seems like it's almost worse than I thought it was," said Charles Inman of Westminster. He said it seemed schools are scaling down the curriculum and then saying they were teaching more by "making the book smaller."

School officials sent invitations last spring to about 60 community groups and PTAs to provide speakers on outcomes-based education, Dr. Dunkleberger said.

So far, 19 groups have accepted the offer, and another nine are scheduled. Administrators and teachers take turns presenting the information.

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