What a learner can do at the exit point of a program or learning plan is the basis of outcome-based education. In a guide produced for the Ottawa Board of Education, Pauline Larabee wrote, "Outcome-based assessment assesses learners on the basis of their ability to perform real life tasks. Demonstrations of learning take the form of set tasks performed with specific conditions."26
Two separate but related advantages of assessing with portfolios are that they can show both the progress of learning and proof of abilities in different situations over time. By contrast, a test just shows the ability to do something at one fixed time and place.
Foundation level outcomes are currently written at three successive levels in three subject areas: math communications and computers. An adult learner can work on specific learning outcomes in any level. A future consideration is whether all the demonstrations for outcomes in that level would have to be achieved to earn recognition of that level. Adult learners in literacy programs in Ontario, regardless of sector (community-based, college, or school board) have the opportunity to demonstrate the achievement of the foundation level learning outcomes.
The foundation level learning outcomes are broad statements which are supported by demonstrations and criteria for each learning outcome. A demonstration is something you can observe a learner doing. The criteria describe how well or under what conditions something is done. If a learner cannot demonstrate the outcome, he or she is most likely missing skills or knowledge. The section called, "trouble shooting," suggests incremental units of knowledge or skills which would help the learner to build towards achieving the outcome. The instructor and learner would examine these suggestions together to determine appropriate programming. Please don't forget that learning outcomes, demonstrations, criteria and trouble-shooting suggestions may help you develop appropriate curriculum: they are not curriculum. Though the skills may appear to represent a sequence, not all learners will follow it.
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