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Outcome Based Education - Questions
Demanding Answers
by Ann Wilson

This is taken from Ann's book, Pavlov's Children: A Study of Performance-/Outcome-Based Education 

Chapter Four:

Outcome-Based Education

Questions Demanding Answers 

Now that you have read the 1953-54 Congressional reports and concerns, let's move to present-day questions and concerns. This chapter includes the most common questions posed about Performance-Based or Outcome-Based Education and answers. Keep in mind that OBE is packaged, with slight differences, under different labels, including President George Bush's "America 2000" and President Bill Clinton's "Goals 2000." 

This material is reprinted from the Missouri State Federation Citizens for Educational Freedom Report and from Georgia Insight, October, 1993. If you want more information, contact the Missouri State Federation at 9333 Clayton Road, St. Louis, Missouri 63124, telephone (314) 997-6361. 

1. How does OBE differ from traditional education? 

Traditional Education focuses on teachers instructing students in various academic subjects during 12 years of education or its equivalent. Specific subjects must be covered to satisfy the Carnegie Units. Knowledge is determined through tests. Passing grades result in promotion. Graduation occurs when all required subjects have been passed. 

Outcome-Based Education focuses on what the student is, not on what he knows. It is designed for every child to FEEL successful ("Gwinnett Organizing Around Learner Success") in school although he might not BE successful. Teachers become facilitators, coaches, or monitors (Designing Successful Learning Teacher Manual, "Performance Assessment Rationale," Gwinnett County, Georgia.) Academic emphasis is minimal. OBE focuses on changing specific complex behaviors (Dr. Barbara Kapinus, Georgia Lieutenant Governor's OBE Conference, May 13, 1993), to conform to predetermined outcomes. Outcomes control curriculum design. Designing curriculum to produce the desired outcomes is called "designing down" (Designing Successful Learning, "Putting all Together, Designing Down"). 

Local districts may design their own curriculum, but it must be structured around the outcomes. Students' assessments determine whether the outcomes are met. If not, they are recycled until they do. Assessment might be: "not yet, somewhat, definitely," etc., (ibid, Invention Rubric). OBE holds all students to the same level of achievement; none can attain above the other; and natural abilities and aptitudes are not encouraged or developed, but are ignored. ("Mastery Learning Reconsidered," by Robert Slavin, January 1987, published by Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD). 

2. Is OBE the same as mastery learning which failed in the 1970s? 

Yes. Benjamin Bloom, a developmental PSYCHOLOGIST, and James Block developed the idea of OBE or Mastery Learning which first appeared in a program called PPBS in 1965 ("The Source of the River of Pollution," Planning, Programming, Budgeting System," by Cavell Bean, Educator Publications, 1972). In the late 1960s, California implemented PPBS, thinking it was only an accounting system, only to learn later that they had implemented education by behavioral objectives. Then in 1977, William Spady, a Harvard EDUCATOR, developed the organizational framework necessary to implement OBE ("The Roots of OBE", Free World Research Report, July 93, p. 9), but it's based on B.F. Skinner's work. He's a BEHAVIORAL ENGINEER (Educational Leadership, Dec. 92/Jan. 93, p. 67, "on Outcome-Based Education: A Conversation with Bill Spady," by Ron Brandt). Put those three together, and you have (a) OBE developed as Mastery Learning by Benjamin Bloom, a PSYCHOLOGIST: (b) OBE structured by Spady, an educator who is a SOCIOLOGIST: and (c) OBE conformed to Skinner's BEHAVIORAL ENGINEERING. 

3. Why is the same failed process being tried again? 

OBE is a failure from an academic perspective, having never made significant improvements in education; and it has, repeatedly, resulted in lower test scores in reading and other subjects. 

In spite of that, by 1992, OBE had redefined what schools are for - moving from teaching academics to preparing students for future roles by changing their beliefs, attitudes and behaviors (Outcomes, Summer, 1992, "It's Time To Take a Close Look at OutcomeBased Education," by William Spady). OBE's mission is to transform our culture by social engineering through psychological manipulation of behavior. That's why it's tried and tried again. Education is NOT the goal of OBE. The goal is to restructure society by restructuring education, and in that sense OBE IS successful. If you need confirmation that society is being restructured, simply compare today's education and morality to those of yesteryear when 90% of America was literate and morals were absolute. 

4. Does research indicate that OBE improves the academic knowledge of students? 

No. The reverse is true. In fact, academic tests revealed such lowering of achievement that Chicago abandoned OBE after using it for five years at a cost of $7.5 million. In Minnesota, Cheri Yecke, Stafford County's 1988 Teacher of the Year and finalist for an Agnew Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award, wrote in a 1992 Cottage Grove Bulletin, "The prevailing attitude among many students is "Why Study? They can't fail me so who cares?" What kind of work ethic is this producing in these children?" She also wrote that "A series of 23 meetings were held by the Minnesota Department of Education to gather input from the public concerning the issue of OBE. I attended the November 14 meeting at Park High School in Cottage Grove. Time after time, the same message was heard, as it is presently being implemented, OBE is not working, and is not in the best interests of our children. I estimate that at least 80% of the speakers were against OBE . . ." (Free World Research Special Report, April 1993, "Outcome-Based Education: Re-defining the School, by Wayne Wolf). 

High achievers, especially, suffer because the outcomes are so low that the slowest learners can FINALLY reach them, no mater how long it takes ("Mastery Learning Reconsidered," by Robert Slavin, January 1987, Center for Research on Elementary & Middle Schools, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD). OBE is not an academic process. It focuses on complex human behaviors (Dr. Barbara Kapinus, George Lt. Governor's Conference on OBE, May 13, 1993) 

5. Explain "higher order thinking skills" (HOTS). 

HOTS uses values clarification to modify behavior and change values by role playing and other strategies which require students to demonstrate their behavior in ambiguous situations. A traditional response based on absolutes is not acceptable. Students must adopt new behavior. Under OBE, higher order thinking skills are used to restructure, reorder or discard all previous knowledge and arrive at new solutions (Briefing Notebook for Georgia High School Graduation Test, June 7, 1993, Document A, p. 1, Dec. 16-17, 1991 Background Paper 2), Georgia Department of Education, Research, Evaluation & Assessment Division). 

If students discard all previous knowledge, what foundation will they use to reach that new solution to problems? Most likely, they'll use the new information they have been facilitated to accept in class from teachers and peers. 

Result: Situation ethics, new values, no right or wrong. 

6. Why is one-third of the proposed graduation test dedicated to HOTS? 

That was decided by the State Department of Education and the contractor for the test, Measurement Inc., in spite of the fact that most teachers surveyed prefer to teach academic content rather than behavior modification (Georgia High School Graduation Test Background Paper #5, Teacher Survey, Dec. 16-17, 1991, Document A). 

The law governing the new graduation test was passed in 1991 (S.B. 328), was piloted in the Spring of 1993, and will be implemented in 1994 (Georgia Superintendent of Schools, House Curriculum Subcommittee Meeting, June 7, 1993). Eleventh graders will take the test, but any who fail may take it two or three more times. Even A students can't graduate until they pass it. S.B. 328 requires an emphasis on HOTS (values clarification to change behavior, beliefs, attitudes and values.) 

7. What is the goal of HOTS and why is it critical to graduation? 

HOTS can be used to change the attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and values of students. Absolute values are not considered "politically correct." The graduation test will determine whether the student has conformed to the outcomes which measure his behavior. If he has not conformed, he will take the test until he does. I believe the test, itself, is the remediation tool since repeating it will consistently redirect thought patterns until the answers come out "right" on the assessment. 

8. Define "success" as it is used in the context of OBE. 

Success in OBE has been defined by employers, not by educators, and educators have decided to implement curriculum as employers have defined it. Success in business means that workers can use and apply data, communicate orally and in writing, access and use technology, and work as a team (Lt. Governor's Conference on OBE, Speech by Dr. George Thompson, May 13, 1993). Teamwork is key. 

Success doesn't mean necessarily that every student will be successful, but one county states that they want "every child to FEEL successful." Success means that the student will be molded into the worker of the future, regardless of his natural aptitudes. The outcomes aren't designed to meet the students' needs, but those of the employer of the future. Who knows what's needed in the future? 

9. What is meant by "world-class" education? 

When OBE proponents talk about "world-class," they don't mean the best. If you listen carefully, you will learn that student outcomes must produce "GRADUATES WHO PROVIDE MORE FOR LESS MONEY" (Lt. Governor's Conference on OBE, Roy Richards, CEO, Southwire Co.). To be competitive with third-world countries, United States businesses must maintain high quality products with equally high standards of service. But, costs cannot exceed those of other countries. Consider this: Why do American businesses send components to other countries for manufacture or assembly? The answer: Labor is cheaper. So, OBE is dumbing down our students so they will work for lower wages to allow American businesses to compete in the world market. 

10. What are the outcomes expected of students? 

They are all behavioral outcomes which might be slightly different in different counties or states, but will all mean the same. One Georgia county, which is into its third year of implementing OBE, has Six Outcomes of Significance. They are listed here with the number of behaviors to be assessed per outcome: Complex Thinker, 7; Collaborative Contributor, 3; Innovative Producer, 4; Self-Directed Achiever, 7; Involved Citizen, 9; and Effective Communicator, 4. 

These outcomes are to produce students who "succeed" as WORKERS, CONSUMERS, GLOBAL CITIZENS, and FAMILY MEMBERS who are LIFELONG LEARNERS. Note that there are 34 outcomes under these six Outcomes of Significance, but not one requires students to learn to read, spell or do arithmetic. The number of outcomes vary. Kansas has 7,000 and Ohio has 412. This Georgia county will probably expand the number of outcomes as the process continues. 

11. Why were those outcomes chosen and what will they accomplish? 

They conform to America 2000 (now Goals 2000) and accomplish "whatever it is we decide they should have been taught while they are with us," said Dr. George Thompson, Superintendent, Gwinnette County Schools, July 29, 1993. The outcomes promote a global community and world citizenship. The "right answers" will, most assuredly, be "politically correct," which means that students will be moved away from absolutes of right and wrong into relativism (situation ethics). At that point, the foundations of parental training will crumble because students will be trained to reject absolute values and adopt the philosophy that there are no right and wrong answers or actions

12. Tell me about "cooperative learning." 

Since businesses say they need workers that conform to the group, educators have decided to teach conformity by giving group assignments and group grades. Each student may be given a different task which, when put together with the other assignments, make up a complete project. No student will be required to do the entire assignment, much like a factory worker would put a bolt or nut on a car and another worker would install the windows, etc. Each man can do his own particular job, but not one of them can assemble a whole car. That can be very beneficial in a factory, but school is not a factory. Cooperative learning does not accurately reflect employment policies, either. No employer will put up with workers who consistently have to do their work over. Real-life employers fire individuals who can't or won't do the job. Cooperative learning deceives the low achiever when it allows the fast learner to do all the work and rewards both of them the same. Real life doesn't let the slow learner repeat and repeat until he gets it right. An employer might allow that during training; but inevitably, every man must carry his own load. 

13. Is it fair to give an entire class the grade one student made? 

No, it isn't. In group grading the high achiever may work harder and faster than the others but he gets the same grade. He could feel cheated, and rightly so. The low achiever gets the same grade, feels good about himself and has a false sense of accomplishment for work he didn't do. 

14. Does group grading breed resentment and frustration and hinder high achievers? 

Yes, it could be divisive and cause resentment between students. Students know individual grades for individual work is fair, while the same grade for different levels of work is unfair to them all. It hinders high achievers and causes slow learners to lean on others to do their work. School drop-out might be a problem for high achievers who are not fairly graded and are not allowed to excel. 

15. What is group learning and whom does it benefit? 

Groups would consist of a fast learner, a slow learner, and two average students. With that scenario, it's easy to tell which one would determine the level of learning since ALL must attain the outcome before any can proceed. While it might benefit the slow learner, it could hinder a high achiever because he will be forced to learn at a slower pace. Group learning fosters peer dependence, especially by the slow learners, because they become dependent on others to do their work. In fact, high achievers are responsible for getting low achievers to the goal, although that's the teacher's job. 

16. What is the start-up and continued cost of OBE, teacher-training and assessment? 

OBE cost Chicago Public Schools $7.5 million over five years (Free World Research Special Report, April 1993, "Outcome-Based Education: Redefining the School," p.3). Consider the cost of OBE staff development, teacher training, curriculum, assessments, consultants, computers, repairs and software to replace books. Development of the outcomes could be quite expensive. It requires time away from work for educators, travel expense and fees for experts and facilitators and an enormous cost for publications explaining OBE and its implementation. Software must be updated, new outcomes developed, new publications are required and broken-down or outdated computers must be replaced. 

17. What is the connection between OBE and business and industry? 

Educators have decided they haven't taught children to function as adults. That is true, since schools aren't teaching students to read. But, reading isn't on their list for education reform. Educators collaborated with businesses to mold students for the workplace rather than to educate them, so all students will "succeed." In fact, educators interested in computer curriculum predicted in 1984 that 65% of the jobs in our high-tech age will be for service workers, over half of which will be UNSKILLED service workers (Schooling & Technology Volume 3, Planning for the Future; A Collaborate Model, S.E. Regional Council for Educational Improvement, May 1984.) Result, the dumbed down curriculum to produce those unskilled laborers. It's all part of the plan. The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) was developed to "formulate 'national competency guidelines' that will be used throughout the country to help develop new curricula and training programs for schools," SCANS Report, Learning a Living. Note this quote from SCANS Commissioner Thomas Stitch, recorded in The Congressional Record, October 23, 1989, "Ending discrimination and changing values are probably more important than reading and moving low income families into the middle class." This means the United States Department of Labor has decided reading is NOT important, but ending discrimination and changing values ARE important. 

18. Will computer curricula be subject to prior review as textbooks are? 

How could they be? In May, 1984, "Schooling & Technology, Volume 3, Planning for the Future: A Collaborative Model," reported that Dr. D. H. Heuston, founder of World Institute for Computer-Assisted Teaching Systems, said, "Won't it be wonderful when the child in the smallest county in the most distant area or in the most confused urban setting can have the equivalent of the finest school in the world on that terminal, and no one can get between that child and that curriculum?" That publication quoted educators who doubt the value of teaching students math and spelling since there are machines to do those things. Do educators want parents to know they're not teaching students math and spelling? Do you think parents want students taught math and spelling? 

19. How can an individual education plan be tailored to each student? 

Computer curriculum will fit the learning style of each student. The Grady Profile and Josten's Learning Systems are two products being used to accomplish this. (Details in "20" on next page.) 

20. Explain the Grady Profile student tracking system. What information is kept on each student? How long will the student be tracked? 

Grady Profile is one of the computer portfolios to assess student progress toward achieving the required behavioral and attitudinal outcomes. It records the student's voice, photograph, artwork, handwriting samples, and items that can be entered on a flatbed scanner. It will contain the student's social security number, if the parents choose to give it, and an assessment record of the student's work rather than the grades A, B, C, D, or F. Medical and other personal information on the student AND his family will be kept indefinitely. Nineteen behaviors will be assessed for change in both the student AND his family (Grady Profile, Apple Early Language Connections Hardware: Software Package). Walnut Grove Elementary School owns and is using this system. Jostens Learning Systems' Integrated Language Arts Dragon Tales, also, contains a portfolio in its companion software. Grady Profile and Jostens are two, but there are probably other distributors which produce and market student portfolio programs. 

21. Why change attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors? 

The Congressional Record, April 8, 1975 quotes the author of "Concepts and Values," "Any child who believes in God is mentally ill." Also, in Denver, CO, Dr. William Pierce of Harvard University told some 1,000 teachers at a Childhood Education International Association seminar: 

"Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our founding fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being, toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. It's up to you teachers to make all of these sick children well by creating the international children of the future" (Free World Research Iowa Report, January, 1993, "The Established Religion of America's Public Schools," p. 4).
OBE is designed to produce "politically correct" students who will fit into a world community by removing intellectual and moral differences between Americans and citizens of other countries. 

22. Isn't OBE mental manipulation and the practice of psychology? 

Yes, it is. Psychologists must be licensed before they can practice psychotherapy. However, S.B. 137, which passed the 1993 legislature, (in state of Georgia and in Missouri S.B. 380), cleared the way for all teachers to practice psychology in the classroom WITHOUT A LICENSE. OBE's emphasis on higher order thinking skills (HOTS) places it squarely in the position of requiring psychotherapy in the classroom. 

23. Why does education diagnose rather than test students? 

The behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and values targeted by OBE cannot be measured on a test for knowledge. The student must be observed in various situations by a teacher who diagnoses from his behavior whether he has met the outcome. It is very subjective and can vary from teacher to teacher. 

24. World economics seems to be very much at the center of this issue. Is a labor force working for lower wages the ultimate goal of OBE? 

Yes. Undereducated adults often cannot command high salaries and a dumbed-down society can cause a lowering of United States living standards to third world levels. United States business can then compete in the world market with third-world countries because of reduced United States labor costs. The federal SCANS report refers to children as human capital, gives job descriptions and "foundation skills" which match Iowa's outcomes with only minor word changes. An electronic resume may go directly from school to employer and could be infringement on the right to privacy unless permission is given. 

25. Does OBE increase local control or tighten state control? 

It tightens state control. This year's S.B. 74 authorized Charter Schools (in state of Georgia), which MUST use OBE. Next Generation Schools curriculum and structure are PRESCRIBED, which means OBE in the classroom. Schools of the Future, also, REQUIRE the use of OBE. Schools of the Future are freed from rules, regulations and laws that govern other schools, and are REGULATED entirely by the Dept. of Education using concepts from Professor Carl Glickman's Renewing America's Schools, A Guide for School-Based Action, Jossep-Bass Education Series, San Francisco, CA, 1993. Charter Schools are freed from rules, regulations and laws that govern other schools (State Board of Education Policy 160-4-9-04, Appendix A, p. 2), including that law which prohibits distribution of contraceptives, abortifacients and referral for abortion on school grounds, but must OBEY a charter. Next Generation Schools are Georgia's America 2000 schools, and everything about it is PRESCRIBED by Georgia 2000, the state version of America 2000. All of this tightens control. MUST, PRESCRIBED, REQUIRE, REGULATED and OBEY are mandatory words. The local school board may choose to become one of these schools; but after that decision is made, local control is dwarfed. 

26. What happens to teachers who disagree with implementing OBE? 

Some teachers in Georgia have been told to get on the program or look for another job. New teachers will be hired ONLY if they are willing and qualified to work in an outcome based education (Creating Our Future Together, First Annual Update, 1992, Strategy II, Gwinnett County Public Schools). 

27. Can parents opt children out of a school that is facilitating OBE? 

As the Charter School bill was debated in the Georgia legislature, a representative asked what could a parent do who does not want his child to attend such a school. Answer: "Move out of the district." 

28. Will students be required to achieve "politically correct" outcomes? 

Yes, the outcomes will reflect "politically correct" behavior, and students will have to perform accordingly. A local Teacher Training Manual has a section which lists eleven diversities to be taught. Number ten is sexual orientation. The manual states that diversity will be taught in every class and that tolerance and acceptance can be learned and practiced (Designing Successful Learning Teacher's Manual, "Valuing Diversity Rationale" and Transparency D-4, Gwinnett County) Acceptance of homosexuality has become politically correct, and educators have set out to make sure students conform to that attitude. 

29. Illiterate students are graduating. Shouldn't educators teach students to read instead of redirecting their attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors? 

Yes, but there is not a goal that requires students to learn to read. The shift from academics to higher order thinking skills proves that attitudes and behaviors are the real focus of education. In fact, redirecting attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors is NOT education. It's PSYCHOTHERAPY and every child receives the same treatment. Untrained psychotherapists can cause great damage to students. Do you know any licensed psychologist or physician who prescribes the same treatment or the same medication for every patient? No? Well, teachers are doing just that. 

30. How will parents react when they learn that their children's attitudes, beliefs, values and behavior are being altered at school? 

If parents really knew what was happening to their children in school, they would be outraged. This is much worse than the problems we've had in sex education. OBE is a cultural transformation and has been called that by educators. Culture is determined by the intellect and morals of its citizens. To transform culture, society's knowledge and morals which determine behavior must be changed. So, OBE is changing morals and behavior. They call it cultural transformation, but it's social engineering which is being done with taxpayer's children, using taxpayers' dollars, against taxpayers' values and standards

31. Doesn't the Federal Protection of Pupil Rights Act, 20 United States Code 1232h require parental consent for psychological testing of students? 

Yes, parents and students are protected by the Federal Protection of Pupil Rights Act (20 United States Code SS 1232h, Regulated by 34 CFR Part 90-Student Rights in Research, Experimental Programs, and Testing), which covers federally-funded educational programs that invade student and parent privacy. Regulations were not written until public pressure demanded it, and they are not being enforced. Legal action should be taken against any educator who invades student and family privacy. Also, we need a State Protection of Pupil Rights Act to cover all state-funded curriculum. 

Outcome-Based Education is packaged under other names, including "Mastery Learning," "Performance Based Education," "Glasser's Reality Therapy," "Management by Objectives (MBO)," "Planning Programming Budgeting Systems (PPBS)," "Total Quality Management (TQM)," "Accelerated Schools," "Effective Schools," "Comer Schools," "Johnson City Schools," "Schools for the 21st Century," "Sizers Coalition of Essential Schools," "Professional Development Schools," "Outcomes Driven Developmental Model (ODDM)," all of which are Outcome-Based Education. 

Get The Book!

Pavlov's Children: A Study of Performance-/Outcome-Based Education by Ann Wilson - reveals how the whole system came to be and how powerful conditioning is used in the government controlled public school systems. Reading this book could save your child's future! 

Suggested Reading List - the Demise of the Educational System - OBE (Outcome-Based Education), NEA (National Education Association), educational psychology, German psychology & influences, demise of public education, educational sabotage, Wundt, Pavlov, Dewey, Skinner, Watson. 

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