Candidates discuss outcomes-based education


The differences among the 11 candidates for Board of Education surfaced most vividly when they answered a question about outcomes-based education last night, at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Carroll County.

Candidates were asked to describe the positive and negative aspects of outcomes-based education. Most, however, saw it as positive or negative, rather than both.

Outcomes-based education means setting specific goals for what students are to be able to know by the end of a unit, course and their schooling.

Candidates Gary W. Bauer, Laura E. Albers, Michael R. Baker, Deborah Jane Winter and Evelyn E. Butler said little that was positive about outcomes.

They criticized the trend as wasting time on feelings and attitudes, and encroaching on parents' rights to teach values at home.

But the incumbent, Carolyn L. Scott, and candidates Carole M. "Cyd" Pecoraro, Kathleen P. Hamblet, Thomas G. Hiltz and Deborah J. Paisie said they felt the approach clarified goals and did focus on academics and skills needed to succeed in jobs.

Candidate Wayne Cogswell said he felt the goal of outcomes-based education to provide consistency throughout the county schools and to set goals was a good one. But he said the approach isn't anything new.

Mr. Baker said he supported the seven "exit outcomes" that the school board approved, but joined the other outcomes-dissenters in saying the schools should not teach values.

"I find no good in outcomes-based education," Mr. Bauer said. He said state and federal governments are on the way to usurping local boards' authority, and may force outcomes-based education on them through testing programs.

Ms. Butler and Ms. Winter decried the group learning already going on in Carroll schools, which they said would happen more often with the outcomes approach. Ms. Winter said she opposed grouping children of different ability levels together.

"The clarity will allow the school system to assess student learning," Ms. Pecoraro said.

"It's difficult for me to find anything negative to say about exit outcomes," Ms. Hamblet said. "They represent a blueprint for success for Carroll County students."

"Don't let the word outcomes [deter] you," Ms. Scott said. "They're simply results. Our career and tech program has been outcomes-based since its inception, and 94 percent of the students have jobs before they graduate."

"The weakness is in the term," said Mr. Hiltz, who said the outcomes approach is an efficient way to reform the curriculum, but has suffered from misunderstanding. "The term exit outcomes lends itself to stereotypes."

Ms. Paisie said the goals need to be written more clearly.

"The exit outcomes are a very good idea," Ms. Paisie said. "I just don't think parents understand."

All 11 candidates said they would be advocates for children, push academics and meet the challenges of growth.

Some other issues raised were:

* Candidates Mr. Bauer, Mr. Cogswell and Mr. Baker supported merit pay for teachers.

* Ms. Winter said she is not sending any of her three children to public schools this year because of crowding and the 25-minute bus ride they would have had to make. They attend a private Christian school.

* Ms. Butler urged voters to choose a governor by his or her education stand, because the local board's authority depends on state support.

* Ms. Albers said schools already are spending too much time on what she said were questionable surveys of children, discussion of condoms and other topics that were not academic.

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