By Janet Battistini
ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication
This digest will
focus on Outcome-Based Education in the language arts classroom. Though
Outcome-Based Education must involve administrators, educators, parents
and students, ultimately it is the classroom teacher who is the key
to the success of the program. The most basic premise of Outcome-Based
Education (OBE) states that all students are capable of learning and
can achieve high levels of competency when teachers delineate their
expectations. When this is done, students feel they are participants
in classroom decisions and tend to be more supportive of all aspects
of the class. Thus, one of the main objectives of OBE is met as students
and staff both take responsibility for successful learning outcomes.
Any teacher involved with OBE must be able to evaluate the effectiveness
of his/her classroom experience implementing OBE. The following
list delineates some of the tenets of OBE, and this digest will
demonstrate how some of these tenets are utilized in the language
- Both staff
and students take responsibility for successful learning.
are clearly defined.
have choices and options, thus they usually perform at higher
levels of competency.
levels are determined after complete assessment of student mastery.
are given the opportunity to gain from others and to build a hierarchy
of learning skills.
by both peers and instructors is ongoing.
- Time is
varied for learning according to the needs of each student and
the complexity of the task
are given the opportunity to work with core and alternative curriculum.
- All students
are ensured the opportunity for personal success.
CREATING A COMMUNITY OF READERS AND WRITERS
Throughout the course the instructor must make a sincere attempt
to meet each student at his/her level of competency and build upon
the strengths already there. The first week a profile of reading/writing
strengths of each student is created. This is done in a nonthreatening
manner and is personalized as much as possible. Students are tested
with the revised Gates-MacGinite Reading Tests---Vocabulary and
Comprehension. In addition, students produce a writing sample in
the classroom while listening to classical music.
As part of the profile, students complete two different interest
inventories. Students also write a brief biography at this time
and share these with a small group. By the end of the first several
days of the course, students have clear objectives of the program,
a classroom climate of mutual respect has been built, and the teacher
has a great deal of information about each student. At this juncture
there is a completed assessment of student mastery in varied areas,
and one can determine where instructional levels will begin.
ONGOING ASSESSMENT BY STUDENTS AND INSTRUCTORS
An area in the language arts/reading programs where ongoing assessment
is of great value is in peer editing and teacher conferences. To
teach reading and writing in a comprehensive manner, the teacher
must realize that not all students will be working on the same activity
during the same time. Varying the time for learning according to
the needs of each student and the complexity of the task are especially
apparent in the writing process. Student intervention with a specific
writing partner or small group will give the necessary feedback.
While peer editing is essential, teacher conferences are a significant
feature of the writing process. Students feel very special as the
instructor focuses all his/her attention on the student and the
writing. When conferencing with students it is important to distinguish
at least two areas of expertise and two areas for improvement on
a given assignment. The instructor should keep written notes on
the writing details, and the student needs to keep written verification
of these notes. Thus both teacher and student know where the student
needs instruction, and the teacher can easily and accurately check
for mastery of this objective in the next writing piece. Students
keep their writing in a portfolio and often select representative
work for the portfolio with the input of the instructor as well
as that of other students.
THE WORLD IS A TEXTBOOK
It is significant to note that a textbook is not used for these
classes. A regular textbook would bring a sense of confinement,
and it is preferable to use trade books and authentic materials
from the world around the students. Each year units of study that
meet the changing needs of the student population are developed
and integrated into the curricula. Past units have included socioeconomic
issues, ecology, and music and its role in the life of teenagers.
In this manner one can build upon the interests of the students
and individualize their classroom experience.
Integral to this program is the completion of projects, reports,
and group activities rather than a myriad of summative tests. These
evaluations are usually a better assessment of a student's thoughts.
The projects are often open-ended, giving the students freedom to
explore whatever their interests and abilities lead them to.
SECRETS OF SUCCESS OF AN OUTCOME-BASED EDUCATION PROGRAM
to have your total staff in concert with the tenets of your program.
Teachers need updated education and are usually open to new ideas
and will implement them if they feel significant support from
administration and other staff members. Plan a day-long program
at the outset for introducing and educating the staff with the
objectives of your resolve. Speakers for our staff development
programs have included both outside presenters and our own personnel.
Sometimes outside presenters have a wide appeal and bring a fresh
approach to a given subject. Our program has been effective for
many reasons, but one is the direct input of the staff in deciding
what they want in terms of staff development.
to conference with content area teachers. Because language arts
is the basis for all other disciplines, continue to make yourself
available to other staff members for support and assistance with
specific areas of Outcome-Based Education. Some staff members
will need more direction as new concepts are introduced and implemented.
Become familiar with the texts used by other departments, and
you will be able to offer assistance as new ideas are implemented.
is contagious, and others will see the benefits of the program
and be more eager to share their concerns and ideas with you.
Sometimes it is beneficial to begin with just a few new ideas,
and then as a comfort zone is established, the more dramatic steps
can be taken.
Not every time a class meets will it incorporate all aspects of
OBE. However, by focusing on the growth and progress of the individual
student, one usually sees a pattern of success. Mutual trust is
built from the first day of the course and carries through to every
aspect of the classroom experience. Every class has a personality
of its own, and the unique chemistry of students and instructors
learning and teaching with common goals is a form of achievement
that cannot easily be measured. The long-term effects of competent
teachers interacting with motivated students is never really known.
However, one can identify when short-term goals have been met. Such
successes of student-teacher cooperation and achievement have greatly
enhanced the effectiveness of many using these objectives.
For additional information, consult the following sources:
Brookhart, Donna, and Pat McGuire (1991).
From Task List to Curriculum: A Teacher's Guide to Outcome-Based
Curriculum. Second Edition. [ED 344 052]
Burns, Robert, and David Squires (1987).
Curriculum Organization in Outcome-Based Education. San Francisco:
Far West Lab for Educational Research & Development. [ED 294 313]
Glatthorn, Allan A. (1993).
"Outcome-Based Education: Reform and the Curriculum Process."
Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 8(4), 354-64. [EJ 465 317]
Jacobsen, Gary, and Cynthia Jacobsen (1992). One School's Approach to Outcome Based Education. Paper presented at the
Rural & Small Schools Conference (Grand Forks). [ED 347 034]
Marzano, Robert J. (1994).
"Lessons from the Field about Outcome-Based Performance Assessments."
Educational Leadership, 51(6), 44-50. [EJ 481 246]
Mitchell, Linda, et al. (1993). "Designing Successful Learning: Staff Development for Outcome-Based Instruction."
Journal of Staff Development, 14(3), 28-31. [EJ 482 527]
Shanks, Joyce (1993).
Unintended Outcomes: Curriculum and Outcome-Based Education.
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational
Research Association (Atlanta). [ED 359 205]
Wenzlaff, Terri (1992). Performance-Based Education: How One District Handled State Mandates. [ED
was prepared (Digest #98,EDO-CS-98-01, June 1995) with funding from
the U.S. Department of Education under contract number RR93002011,
and published by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English and
expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions
or policies of Learn2study, nor does mention of trade names, commercial
products, or organizations imply endorsement by Learn2study.