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CONCLUSIONS

5. Many questions on this problem 1. The median high-school class during

must be answered. Are the distributions, the second semester, 1919-20, had an at

as proposed, the correct ones? If not,

what should they be? Is it possible to tendance of 23 pupils.

set up workable standards as guides in 2. One-fourth of the classes in the city high-school organization? The only soluhad an attendance of 18 pupils or fewer. tion is to try those which have been sug

3. Wide variations existed in size of gested, and discard them as soon as betclasses within each department.

ter ones can be found. Then comes the

problem of determining the best size of 4. There seems to be a need for stand

class in the various fields. The solution of ards which shall prove as guides in the this problem involves concrete and definorganization of high schools. This re

ite data on the purposes of the class port has attempted to furnish such

group, technique of teaching, directed standards.

study, results, etc.

EDUCATION AS A PROCESS OF GROWTH

Education must be conceived as a process of growth. Only when so conceived and so conducted can it become a preparation for life. In so far as this principle has been ignored, formalism and sterility have resulted.

For example, civic education too often has begun with topics remote from the pupil's experience and interest. Reacting against this formalism, some would have pupils study only those activities in which they can engage while young. This extreme, however, is neither necessary nor desirable. Pupils should be led to respond to present duties and, at the same time, their interest should be aroused in problems of adult life. With

this interest as a basis, they should be helped to acquire the habits, insight, and ideals that will enable them to meet the duties and responsibilities of later life. Similarly in home-making education, to neglect present duties and responsibilities toward the family of which the pupil is now a member, is to court moral insincerity and jeopardize future right conduct. With present duties as a point of departure, home-making education should arouse an interest in future home-making activities and, with that interest as a basis, give the training necessary.--From the Report of the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education, Bulletin, 1918, Number 35, National Bureau of Education, l'ashington, D. C.

PUPILS PROMOTED IN ENGLISH

COMPOSITION?

C. C. CERTAIN
Chairman, Committee on Examinations, National Council of Teachers of English

TH

un

HE extent to which working stand- It is the writer's purpose in this paper,

ards in English composition vary in the first place, to show with some from teacher to teacher is frequently degree of definiteness the extent to which commented upon by educational writ- experienced teachers of English may ers, but the average teacher

vary in their opinions as to a satisfactory doubtedly does not realize how widely passing standard in composition for each these standards vary and how seri- of the four grades of high school. He ously this variation may affect the results desires, in the second place, to compare of classroom work. Educational surveys these standards with results actually in recent years have revealed many dis- achieved by pupils, and with standards crepancies in the results of teaching tentatively formulated by methods of recomposition under relatively similar con

search. Finally, it is his purpose to point ditions in a given locality. For example, out the impracticability of setting up one investigator points out a fourth- subjective standards in composition grade class whose attainment in composi- rather than standards established objection was greatly superior to an eighth- tively on the basis of facts derived from grade class, and a senior class in high a scientific study of actual working conschool whose achievement in composition ditions in the classroom. was greatly inferior to an eighth-grade

Experienced teachers of English, it apclass. Yet these classes were being taught pears, vary widely in their judgment of in schools within ten miles of each other, what constitutes a fair passing quality in the same county, and were supposed to in composition. To show this variation constitute groups whose classification in a concrete way, the writer recently more or less accurately indicated their submitted to a number of teachers of relative standing. Numerous examples English, chosen at random, a set of comof this kind might be cited. Underlying positions of known rating on the Hillegas causes may not readily be singled out Scale, with the request that one compowith absolute accuracy, but it is reason- sition be selected for each of the four able to state that standards arrived at

years high school “to represent a desirhaphazardly, merely on the basis of per- able passing standard in quality.” The sonal opinion, do much to produce the compositions, ten in all, included six from unevenness commonly observed in the the Nassau County Supplement to the actual outcome of classroom effort.

Hillegas Scale,—values 3.8, 5.2, 6.0, 7.2,

8.0, 9.0; three from Thorndike's "English *Copyright, 1920, by C. C. Certain.

Composition,"*—values 5.3, 6.7, 7.7; and 'From an address delivered before the National

one rated by Courtist as 8.5. Council of Teachers of English, Cleveland, Ohio, February, 1920.

*“Compositions for Use in Psychological and The first paper in a series of articles on tests

Educational Experiments,” Bureau of Publicaand examinations in English.

tions, Teachers College, Columbia University. *Trabue—“Supplementing the Hillegas Scale," †"English Compositions for Use in the Detroit

Bureau of Publications, Teachers Schools,” September, 1917, published by the Board College, Columbia University.

Schools

pages 25-27.

In order that uniform reports might be English in Detroit, Michigan; 44 from received from all teachers, the following English teachers in the DeWitt Clinton report blank was attached to each set of High School, New York City; a smaller compositions:

number, 11, from readers of the Uniform

College Entrance Examination Board, Read the accompanying compositions to get

New England; and a still smaller numa general idea of their quality.

ber, 4, from Tennessee teachers of EngThese compositions vary in quality from poor

lish. to very good. For each year high school select a composi

Table I gives a distribution of the standtion to represent a desirable passing standard ards chosen by each of the several groups of quality.

of teachers. Record your results in the table below.

In Diagram A, the yalues of the compoFor passing standard

sitions selected by individual teachers as High-School Year

passing standards is shown for each year composition number

high school. The diagram reveals, on the most casual glance, the wide range over which individual standards are scattered. Through even the most superficial inspection of Diagram A, it is evident, too, that the teachers push their choice of passing standards to a high point of literary excellence. Furthermore, the teachers as a group

appear to be inconsistent in many ways. One hundred and twenty of these re

For instance, from this diagram, it may port blanks were returned; the most of

be observed that for the first year passing them, 61, from high-school teachers of standard, 32 teachers selected the composi

use

First

Second

Third

Fourth

Table 1-Showing by Groups of Teachers the Distribution of Compositions Chosen as Passing Standards

for Each Year High School

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2

2

12
1

17
1

First....
Second..
Third
Fourth..

3 7 2

10
9
5

32
31
15
5

13 22 19 8

3 17 41 36

22 24 21 6

2

Total,
All Groups

8.
17
60

116 120 120 119

7.2 7.7 8.0 9.0

tion rated as 7.2, 31 desired this same com- satisfactory passing standard for first-year position as a passing standard for the sec- pupils; 9 selected this same quality as a ond year, 14 desired it for the third year, passing standard for second-year pupils; 5

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Diagram A-Teachers' Subjective Choice of Passing Standards in English Composition

and 5 thought it would be even satisfactory selected it for the third year, and 4 for the as a passing standard for the fourth year. fourth year. Although a median quality of

Further reading of Diagram A reveals 8.5 has never been achieved even by a group that 10 teachers selected quality 6.7 as a of fourth-year pupils, thus far reported in an educational survey, yet 22 teachers se- ination Board, who spoke felicitously of lected this value for the first year passing the “ideal” conditions under which the standard; 24 selected it for the second year,

Board conducted examinations and graded and 21 for the third year; while only 6 papers. Yet the ideal conditions described teachers thought it a satisfactory passing depended entirely upon the ordinary emstandard for the fourth year. Quality 7.2, pirical processes balanced by ingenious an ideal attainment for fourth-year classes, compromises. The system, it appears, was was chosen by 32 teachers as a satisfactory extensively relied upon, and the Board passing standard for first-year classes, by employed many expert readers who were 31 teachers for the second year, by 15 teach- kept busyť "devouring books and turning ers for the third year, and by only 5 teach- out judgments for the ultimate scrutiny of ers for the fourth year. Three teachers a hundred colleges.” The writer seemed desired 8.0 as a passing standard for the

to have much faith in the system that

he described. first year, while 22 teachers desired 8.5,

Against such forms which would seem to indicate that 8.0 was

of self-delusion as this, the facts of scien

tific research have worked only too slowly. regarded as too low; yet only 6 teachers desired 8.5 for the fourth year, whereas

More than fourteen years ago, no less 36 desired 8.0 for the fourth year. The

an authority than Dr. E. L. Thorndike

called attention to the unreliability of the , of literary merit, practically impossible of college entrance examinations as they

were being conducted to test the fitness attainment as a median by any representa

of individuals for entering college. He tive group of pupils in public high schools, pointed out that the system, although rewas chosen as a mere passing fourth year quired to work to a moderate degree of standard by a host of 60 teachers; 17 even

accuracy, was, from a scientific standmore ambitious teachers selected this as point, * "wrong forty-seven times out of desirable for the third year; 8 teachers fifty.” Despite the definiteness with chose this quality as the goal to be attained which reports as authoritative as this for passing in the second year, and 2 have been made, the working methods of teachers, feeling apparently that nothing

the board, from the view-point of scienbut the sky should be the limit, chose this tific research, have been only slightly

modified. The results of research and as a passing standard for the first year. In no way are these reports to be inter- experimentation must, therefore, be re

peatedly emphasized until constructive preted in a sense derogatory to the teach

effort is set up in the right direction. ers who submitted them. It is not the

Was it not to be expected that readers teachers who are at fault in being thus un

of the College Entrance Examination able to arrive at more satisfactory stand

Board, who by experience were more conards. The most intelligent group of per

cerned with arbitrary requirements than sons that could be assembled in the edu

with working standards within the schools, cational profession, guided merely by should prove to be no more reasonable than personal opinion, could not do better.

the teachers of English in the Detroit group The important point is that standards ar

and in the DeWitt Clinton High School rived at by subjective processes are intri

group? The fact of the matter is that all cately involved in personal opinions or

groups chose passing standards unreasonprejudices, or in traditional dogma, and

ably high for actual attainment in public cannot so constitute rational criteria for

high schools, if the real ability of pupils pupils at work.

is to be regarded as a determining factor There is nothing startlingly new in the

in fixing standards, whether high or bw. facts presented herewith. The only start

† See "On the Reading of Entrance Books in ling thing is that so little has been dono Composition.” Professor H. R. Steeves, chief for improvement since such facts became

reader of English I for the College Entrance

Examination Board. The English Leaflet, The known. Indeed, so recenly as 1916, the New England Association of Teachers of Eng. National Council of Teachers of English lish, November, 1916.

,

* From "The Future of the College Entrance was addressed by a speaker representing

Examination Board,” by E. L. Thorndike, Educathe New England College Entrance Exam

tional Review, May, 1906.

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