Claims in favor of OBE

Proponents view OBE as a valuable replacement of the traditional model of relative ranking by ability and getting credit for merely sitting through class. Liberal politicians often support OBE because of its vision of high standards for all groups. Conservatives like the idea of measuring outputs rather than inputs (such as money spent or number of hours of lecture given) and insisting that student demonstrate learning rather than just showing up.

OBE proponents believe that all students can learn, regardless of ability, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender. Furthermore, OBE recognizes that a complex organization is more likely to produce what it measures, and to downplay anything it considers unimportant. The adoption of measurable standards is seen as a means of ensuring that the content and skills covered by the standards will be a high priority in the education of students.

The standards-based education movement rejects social promotion and the inevitability of inferior performance by disadvantaged groups. While recognizing that some students will learn certain material faster than others, the standards movement rejects the idea that only a few can succeed. All students are capable of continuous improvement.

The opportunities that were previously afforded to those at the top of a bell curve are opened up to the diversity of all students, in a democratic vision, sometimes connected to social justice.

The movement presents the following positions and viewpoints on OBE:

    All students will complete rigorous academic coursework so that they leave high school prepared for college or technical training, without remedial courses.
    All students, including those who live in poverty, will meet district, state, and national standards.
    Staff will maintain high expectations and standards, believing all students will succeed if kept to high expectations.
    Students should be measured against a fixed yardstick, or "against the mountain" rather than against other students.
    We need higher world class standards for the 21st century (though no state has yet found a precise definition of the term "world-class standards").
    Students should demonstrate that they have met standards, not just put in seat time to advance to the next level.

“     We haven't taught many of them even up to middle school standards. It only punishes them more to give them an empty piece of paper we call a diploma when their high school experience hasn't prepared for any of the skills they'll need after high school. We give them a diploma that is a doorway to a street corner or unemployment line. (Russlynn Ali of Education Trust-West     "

In essence, OBE seeks to reject a rank-ordered definition of success by essentially promising that all students will perform at least as well as the stated standards. In practice OBE often results in large increases in spending as more resources are poured into students who were previously allowed to graduate while being functionally illiterate and innumerate. OBE's objective standards also put a brake on grade inflation, to the distress of students who prefer high, but meaningless, grades.