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MISSOURI EDUCATOR TOURS JUAB SCHOOLS

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The Missouri Commissioner of Education was in Nephi to compare his state's system of education with the program practiced in the Juab School District.

Bob Bartman, Missouri's equivalent of a state superintendent of schools in Utah, was in the state to receive an award on behalf of Missouri's Parents As Teachers (PAT) program.Bartman said he talked to the state superintendent and told him he would like to see a progressive school in Utah - one where outcome-based education was successfully used. Bartman was told the schools in Juab School District were using the Outcomes Driven Developmental Model (ODDM) and would be good to study.

Missouri has 544 districts, compared to Utah's 40. Some of Missouri's are elementary school districts with only 15 students. The largest, with up to 44,000 students per district, are in St. Louis.

"I continue to be intrigued at your focus on those out-of-curriculum objectives," Bartman told educators who toured the district schools with him Tuesday.

"We made the leap of faith in Missouri by focusing on academic achievement," said Bartman.

Superintendent Kirk Wright explained the outcome-based model goes beyond academics. One of the important objectives for students who leave the system is that they will have high self-esteem. "The OBE concept is an holistic approach," said Wright.

Students who graduate from Juab High School, after moving through the system, should have both low-level and high-level cognitive skills. In addition, they should be adept at problem-solving, communication, decision-making, accountability and group interaction, should be self-directed learners and should show a concern for others.

Bartman said he was puzzled over the district's ability to measure success in intangibles. "We are going to move into a statewide assessment of writing skills. Writing is one thing you can measure a lot of other skills with," said Bartman. He asked how the district was able to measure self-esteem.

"There are some indicators," said Steve Olsen, OBE director for the district and a sixth-grade teacher. Last year, he said, he administered a parent survey without giving the criteria he was seeking. "Sixty percent of the parents agreed they had seen a significant increase in their kid's self-esteem," he said. "Perhaps that's one way to measure our success rate."

Students have developed a "sense of excellence" which pushes them to achieve academically. As they strive for success and achieve it, their self-esteem also increases. "Students are starting to believe they can be successful," said Wright.

In the OBE concept, all students can learn what the school wants them to learn. Students are not allowed to fail. If they don't gain an 80 percent mastery on any concept, the teacher and student go back and work through the concept again.

The teacher begins with a "best shot" method of teaching - the style the teacher thinks will be most successful in putting across a point. Other learning styles then are used as the teacher continues to teach the concept. For example, the teacher might first present the concept in a visual manner and then in an auditory style and then in a hands-on way, so each student will have the opportunity to learn.

"Eighty-five percent of our students (at Juab Middle School) passed every objective in every class," said Norm Wall, principal.