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Outcome-based education and the at-risk student: Searching for a crossroad of effective reform

1 December 1993


Motivating academically at-risk students has long challenged educators. Recent research indicates that these students fail to make connections between their, efforts and success or failure. Poor self-concept further undermines their ability to achieve success. Given a flexible classroom conductive to individual pacing, high expectations, and goal setting, these students may overcome their past failures and understand the actions which lead to the achievement of goals.

The recommendations of outcome-based education (OBE), a philosophy of learning promoted and founded by William Spady, coincide with much 'Of the research on at-risk students. OBE advises that schools adopt mastery learning classrooms with high expectations for students.

Over a two and a half month period, observations were taken of a seventh grade classroom in a suburban junior high. Both the school and the seventh grade team observed implemented the reform of OBE and integrated team teaching. Interviews with the team's three teachers also provided insight into the research on OBE's potential in' promoting effective strategies with at-risk students.

A literature review discusses research findings and observations of the' school, teachers, and students comprise the narrative. Analysis of the findings suggests that three components - teachers, students, and their environment - influence the at-risk student's opportunities and likelihood of academic success.


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