The most controversial words in the education world today
are Outcome-Based Education — sometimes called performance-based
education — and formerly called mastery learning. Parents recognize it
as a process that rejects the basics, subject-matter knowledge,
competition, meaningful report cards and the Carnegie units, and
substitutes material that is subjective, often psychological and usually
not capable of measurement.Parents object to Outcome-Based Education
because it uses children as guinea pigs in an experimental process that
has not been proven. There is no research that proves academic gains
from using performance- or Outcome-Based Education.
Outcome-based advocates use Kentucky as Exhibit A.
Kentucky embarked on a massive restructuring in 1990 and spent more than
$1 billion of additional tax money on the changeover.
Yet Kentucky Commissioner of Education Thomas Boysen
said last October that test scores show "no clear difference
between schools that have been deeply involved in reform efforts and
others that have made no changes."
Kentucky's learning goals and outcomes prove the whole
system is a cheat — on students, on parents and on taxpayers. It
starts with platitudes, then progresses through bureaucratic jargon,
then spells out subjective outcomes that cannot be scored and finally
descends to specifics that range from the ridiculous, to a waste of
time, to the downright offensive.Kentucky's six "learning
goals" established by the State Legislature sound like Mom and
apple pie. Here is the second of the six: "Students shall develop
their abilities to apply core concepts and principles from mathematics,
the sciences, the arts, the humanities, social studies, practical living
studies, and vocational studies to what they will encounter throughout
The learning goals then moved into the hands of the
state's Department of Education, which wrote the Learner Outcomes. Here
is Learner Outcome No. 2.32 listed under the above goal: "Students
demonstrate positive strategies for achieving and maintaining mental and
How is the school going to grade the child's
performance of "emotional wellness"? It is obvious that this
kind of "outcome" is wholly subjective and psychological, as
well as being nonacademic.
But stay tuned. Now we move to typical specifics of
how the schools actually teach mental and emotional wellness. The quoted
material below is taken directly from Kentucky's published Goals and
"Establish goals for improving and maintaining
"Plan, implement, and record
Tell me, how would you "plan" a
How would you score it? How would a child get an A or
an F? It becomes obvious why outcome-based education eliminates
traditional letter grades.
"Identify and analyze stressful situations in
That's an outrageous invasion of the child's
"Interview a graduate from a substance-abuse
program; create a case study of his/her drug history."
"Research as a class the issue of teen-age
suicide by engaging in the following activities:
• Read a novel and watch a movie that focuses on teenage
• Interview a psychiatrist who has worked with teenagers who
• Read articles and books about teenage suicide.
• Interview parents of teen-age suicide victims."This depressing
sounds like it is calculated to destroy a child's emotional
than improve it.
Here is the activity specified for the science class:
"Role-play a doctor who has diagnosed a patient
as being HIV positive."
Here is the activity specified for the mathematics
"Identify dependent and independent variables
in situations involving stress."
It's no wonder that American students are scoring last
on international math and science tests when classroom time is wasted on
this kind of nonsense.
Here is the activity specified for social studies
"Examine the mental and emotional wellness of
past or present world leaders."
So, this is how history has been degraded.
Instead of studying about George Washington's achievements, the
student is taught to psychoanalyze his mental and emotional
There are so many things wrong with putting this type
of teaching in the public schools that it's hard to know where to begin.
It is not education; it's experimentation.
It's not academic; it's psychological. It's not
uplifting; it's depressing. It's a terrible invasion of privacy. It
won't improve students' test scores. It's not capable of objective
scoring. No wonder parents are up in arms against it!
Parents don't send their children to school to study
self-esteem or to engage in gab sessions with drug abusers, HIV victims
and people who are thinking about suicide. Parents send their children
to school to be taught reading, writing, mathematics, history, geography
When will the schools bring traditional basics back to
the public schools?
The Februrary 5, 1994 edition of
The Washington Times