note: I wrote these facts originally March 10, 1993, while I was working for the
Pennsylvania Department of Education as an education adviser. Now, I am retired
from public education and working as an educational consultant. I still feel the
[I'm a born-again Christian and a registered Republican.] G. Edwin Lint, M.A.
-- Feb. 5, 2012]
Real Facts About Outcome-Based Education (OBE) of Special Interest to Evangelicals
Much has been written and said against outcome-based education from the political
and theological perspectives. Now, consider the facts:
OBE Fact 1: Outcome-Based Education is a method
for organizing how we run our schools.
There is no inherent evil in it, contrary to the beliefs of many evangelicals.
The concept of OBE doesn't promote homosexuality, secular humanism, occult practices,
immorality, the new age, or a new world order. Not by itself, it doesn't.
OBE Fact 2: Outcome-Based Education is nothing but
can use a wheelbarrow to haul fresh fruits and vegetables. Or, you can use a wheelbarrow
to haul garbage. Outcome-Based Education can provide good education if the outcomes,
methods, and materials are good.
Or-- Outcome-Based Education can provide rotten education if the content of the
curriculum is poor (or evil).
OBE Fact 3: Just exactly what is OBE?
Education is just what the name implies. Instead of being time-based, it is outcome-based.
Students get credit for learning specific things-- which are known as learning-outcomes--
not just for putting in their time. For example, if a child can read at the third
grade level on the first day of kindergarten, true Outcome-Based Education says
that instruction should start at the third or fourth grade level-- not way down
at the Fun with Dick and Jane level.
OBE Fact 4: With time-based education, WHEN a student
learns a skill or fact is more important than WHETHER or not he or she learns
OBE Fact 5: With Outcome-Based Education, time is irrelevant. WHETHER a skill
is learned is the important thing.
OBE Fact 6: If Outcome-Based Education is new, what is it replacing? For
over 100 years, public schools in the United States have been organized according
to calendar-based and clock-based education.
public schools are in session 180 days a year, five and one half hours a day,
for 13 years, counting kindergarten. So, Outcome-Based Education is replacing
OBE Fact 7: Outcome-Based Education is driven by
three cardinal laws of learning:
Don't teach a skill which has already been learned. This annoys students.
B. Don't teach a skill which will never be used. This bores students.
C. Don't teach a skill until the student is ready. This frustrates students.
Most children come to school loving it. What makes them start to dislike it? Being
bored. Being annoyed. Being frustrated. We adults hate anything which bores, annoys,
and frustrates us, too.
OBE Fact 8: Outcome-Based Education can be of particular
value to students who attend private day schools or who are being schooled at
the critical issues are what is known, not when it is learned, students can move
into or out of an OBE program without experiencing gaps or overlaps in their education.
Fact 9: Gifted students may stand to gain the most from Outcome-Based Education.
converse is true; gifted students may lose the most if it is not fully implemented.
Consider the TV sitcom of a teenager who became a physician while still in his
early teens. With Outcome-Based Education, any child could be a real-life teenage
doctor if he or she has the mental ability to learn-- while still in the elementary
grades-- the things a fledgling doctor needs to know in order to enter med school.
Fact 10: Concerned parents can do some useful things to help a child's education,
with or without OBE in place.
keep a close eye on WHAT is being taught in terms of the planned courses and the
outcomes. Make sure that wheelbarrow is hauling fresh fruits and vegetables and
not hauling garbage. And second-- get involved in what the school is doing. Go
to PTA meetings. Don't miss parent-teacher conferences. Even offer to volunteer
to serve as an unpaid teacher aid.
And if you smell garbage, yell loud and long!!!
the Scenes at a State Department of Education
The revised curriculum regulations spelled out in Chapter 5 of the Regulations
of the [Pennsylvania, USA] State Board of Education made it possible to implement
outcome-based education. When these regulations were published in the Pennsylvania
Bulletin, July 24, 1993, it caused quite a bit of consternation among many evangelicals.
At this time, my duties at the Pennsylvania Department of Education included attending
many of the training and implementation seminars designed to help put OBE into
place. In addition, I was a member of a work group which drafted a section of
the original required outcomes.
The e-mail messages which follow show the stand I took regarding the relationship
of OBE to the mindset of evangelicals. Make special note of the comments made
by my supervisors at the end of this section.
08:33am - Mon, Nov 30, 1992
To: Joe Bard [Then Commissioner of Basic and Secondary Education]
CC: Jim Tucker, Linda Rhen
This is in regard to the rumors I hear that Don Carroll [then Secretary of Education]
is planning to debate Peg Luksic [then potential candidate for Pa. governor] on
issues surrounding OBE. Since she is an evangelical (as well as a Republican),
you and Don may wish to consider some relevant issues on how evangelicals view
OBE. Since my January report on this issue to Jim Tucker, which he in turn forwarded
to you, I have learned more about the ongoing controversy between evangelicals
and the supporters of OBE. (I am attaching that January exchange to the end of
this message, for your review.)
First, let me say I am certainly an evangelical. I was raised in an evangelical
home and earned Bachelor of Science in Bible and Bachelor of Theology degrees
from an evangelical college, before going on for a Master's in educational supervision
and administration. Therefore, I am in a position to see both sides of the issue.
By definition, an evangelical believes in the Bible as the divinely-inspired word
of God and in his/her responsibility to share the truths of the Bible with others.
(Hence the term "evangelical"; the word "fundamentalist" is a media term which
is not used inside the evangelical movement.)
Second, I firmly believe in the merits of outcomes-based education. Bill Spady
[a major national author on OBE] says the one-room school was the forerunner of
modern OBE concepts. It may not be a total coincidence that I spent 5.5 years
of my 8 elementary years in such a school with eight grades in one room and one
teacher. (Northumberland County, 1940-41; 1944-48.) I further believe that WHETHER
rather than WHEN is the primary issue in all education.
Next, let me give you an update on the situation in my own church. I met with
the "God and Country Committee" and presented my view that OBE is not out of harmony
with traditional evangelical values. At first, my fellow worshippers had a hard
time believing that a born-again Christian could be a professional educator working
in the Department of Education. Once I established my credibility, we went on
to have a fruitful discussion. I emphasized the importance of getting involved
with the local strategic planning groups as well as the curriculum development
committees working on school district planned courses. [In Pa., all curriculum
must be in "planned course" format, including lists of outcomes and means to achieve
those outcomes]. I didn't change everyone's mind but the fire left their eyes
and we were able to talk rationally. I had a subsequent meeting with the education
subcommittee of this God and Country Committee and that was positive also. At
that time, they asked me for a list of districts in the region by strategic planning
wave so they could start getting involved in the process.
Let me move on to some comments about evangelicals and their concerns about public
1. Evangelicals include blue-collar workers or professionals in some field unrelated
to education. They tend to favor stressing the 3 Rs and are not interested in
affective areas, as a rule.
2. There is a concern that values-free sex education will be more prevalent under
OBE, including condom distribution.
3. The use of the term "lifestyle" is a lightening rod. To an evangelical, this
term conjures up visions of alternative lifestyles which are not consistent with
traditional family values. The solution: we should stop using this term.
4. There is fear of the occult. This probably comes from other states ... which
have had tinges of the occult creeping into the curriculum. This spring, I heard
Chuck Colson on the radio trashing Pennsylvania's OBE thrust. He may be an excellent
lawyer and an effective minister in prisons, but he clearly lacked facts on OBE.
He seemed to be influenced by things which are happening in other states where
there is evidence of supernatural powers such as witchcraft in curricular materials
.... With many nationally-syndicated radio and TV programs aimed at evangelicals,
the thinking and philosophies by people like Chuck Colson are evident in their
5. There is fear of the New Age movement. For the last 2,000 years, we have been
in the Age of Pisces, the dispensation of Jesus Christ. The "new age" is the dispensation
of man (secular humanism) where there are no moral absolutes. This is the true
meaning of the song, "This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius." Evangelicals
are opposed to anything which hints of New Age or secular humanism. The bottom
line of all this: Although there is no real evidence to support it in Pennsylvania,
evangelicals feel there's a real link among OBE and New Age, Secular Humanism,
and the occult. Some states with so-called progressive education ideas have had
hints of these elements. Therefore, some people have extrapolated this to mean
that because OBE is new, it will lead directly to contamination by these things
which are feared.
When I speak to groups of concerned parents, here's what I say:
If you fear unwanted intrusions into your schools' curriculum, you should look
to planned courses. This is the community's real line of defense. In Pennsylvania
with it's commitment to local control, nothing can be taught legally unless it
is supported by a planned course. If it's not in the planned course, it shouldn't
be in a lesson plan. And if it's not in a lesson plan, it shouldn't be taught.
OBE or no OBE
here's a copy of my e-mail message in January, 1993 to Jim Tucker, the director
of my bureau:
This is in follow up to our table conversation at the awards luncheon January
10. At that time, we were discussing the recent radio talk show programs regarding
public reaction to Chapter 5 [the curriculum chapter of the revision to the Regulation
of the Pa. State Board of Education].
Since then, I have been alert to what's going on in the community in this regard.
On January 16, I picked up a copy of an open letter in the foyer of our church
(Christian Life Assembly in Camp Hill). This letter talked about the church's
concerns pertaining to revising Chapter 5, specifically in the area of the Learning
Outcomes. I scheduled an "unofficial" meeting with two of the Associate Pastors
in an attempt to learn more about the nature of their concerns. At this meeting,
I told them:
A. Chapter 5 with its emphasis on outcome-based education rather than traditional
clock-hours and credits was at the cutting edge of what is good about the national
concern for improving our schools.
B. The language of Goal 11 (Appreciating and understanding others) was as close
to the teachings of Jesus Christ regarding interpersonal relationships as a public
education document could come.
C. The local school district, through its Strategic Plan and the subsequent planned
courses, had total control of the actual instruction which would be presented
to the students.
D. A complete education for a student of any age includes the affective as well
as the cognitive domain. At first, one of the associate pastors took a strong
position that the school had no business teaching in the affective domain and
that this was the sole responsibility of the home and church. Later, his opposition
seemed to boil down to concerns about such terms as "lifestyle".
Let me suggest that during the revision of the learning outcomes which relate
to the affective domain, we include recognized representatives of the evangelical
movement, in general, and of the Christian day school and home-school movements
in particular. It's better to have these people in on the discussions from the
ground up than to have them seeing words like "lifestyle" as an issue of contention
E-Mail Comments From Joe Bard And Jim Tucker (Note Dates)
*** Comment from JAT - Tucker, James A.; 01/23/92 02:16pm: Ed, this was a very
proactive and positive step to take, and I appreciate it. I will share your experience
with Commissioner Bard.
*** Comment from JFB - Bard, Joseph F.; 01/23/92 02:32pm: I second your comment,
Jim. Ed's comments were cogent and intellectually substantive. How would he like
to be our Coordinator of Sectarian Relations?
*** Comment from JAT - Tucker, James A.; 01/23/92 05:25pm: Ed, your work did not
go unnoticed or unappreciated; I feel certain that it may go yet further up the
chain of command. Thanks again.
*** Comments from JAT - Tucker, James A.; 10/22/92 03:20pm: Ed, again I commend
you for a thoughtful and provocative presentation that should be a real help to
both Joe and Don in their deliberations. Thanks for sharing this with Joe and
*** Comments from JFB - Bard, Joseph F.; 10/22/92 02:56pm: Ed, Thank you so much.
This is very helpful information to have from an evangelical perspective. It certainly
helps me respond more understandingly rather than riding roughshod over concerns
I have trouble validating.
EDUCATION (OBE) VIA WILLIAM G. SPADY
This is a summary of the OBE workshop which Spady [a national OBE author] and
company presented at Hatboro-Horsham School District May 14-15, 1992:
1 Spady's OBE stresses two key concepts: WHETHER is more important than WHEN,
and education is the process of preparing persons for adult life.
2 This version of OBE is consistent with what good ... educators have been talking
about for years.
3 Spady uses three key terms to describe "curriculum". In descending order of
value, they are:
**A. Traditional, based on subject matter content.
**B. Transitional, based on higher-order competencies
***C. Transformational, based on complex role performance in authentic contexts
(preparation for adult life).
4 Spady emphasizes the importance of designing curriculum from the top down and
delivering it from the bottom up.
of Outcome-Based Education Section