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APPLICATION OF MENTAL TESTS IN DETERMINING THE PLACEMENT
In the former chapters it was shown that absence was connected not only with failure of children to be promoted, but also with their dropping out. It was further shown, however, that the children who remained in school and who had repeated at some time or another in the grades had done so in spite of the fact that progress had been against them. Their tendency to remain in school would indicate that their desire to get on is strong enough to give the school system a basis for successful operation with these children. If children do persist in the grades in spite of the fact that they are compelled to repeat a grade from time to time, the question is forced upon us, Does not the subject matter have something to do with the poor progress of these children?
It is customary for teachers and school officials in the grading and promotion of children to be guided by age and achievement in the subject matter of the grade. The basis for the selection of this material is too often from the adult's standpoint; consequently the question can be raised as to whether this standard which the school sets up is not wrong. Does it take into consideration the wide range of individual differences? Does it offer activities broad enough to meet the varying needs of the children who enter the public schools? Are there many children in the public schools held back when they have the mentality to advance? It would seem, then, that inquiry into this particular problem would be pertinent. In the second place the standard chronological age set by the different public-school systems does not tell very much. Individual differences in mentality are so great that the average age of a grade is of little value. Consequently a more scientific means of determining the placement of a child when he enters the public schools seems necessary, if we are to value properly the abilities of children.
In recent years a wider use has been made of various tests to determine general mentality. Among the most important ones used are the Binet-Simon tests, the De Sanctis tests, the Opposite tests, the Association tests, and the like. The test that seems to lend itself most successfully to practical purposes is the Binet-Simon test, which has been used from time to time for administrative purposes, such
as the detection of low-grade mentality in the public schools in order that such children may be removed from the regular class and placed in special classes. There can be no question about the fact that, while this test has its defects, it is probably the most serviceable test for administrative procedure in use at the present time. More extended use of this test and others is being made by permanent psychological departments in the larger city school systems. Psychologists are employing this test in the hands of skillful examiners to determine the mentality of children entering the public schools, and thereby to determine their placement in the grades.
In the past the tendency has been to measure a child's ability by his chronological age. For example, a boy 10 years old might be found in the 2B grade when, as a matter of fact, he ought to be in the 4A or 4B grade. There are many such children who are held back on the supposition that they are unable to do the work in a more advanced grade, and yet actual experience has proved that when many of these children are given a trial in a more advanced grade they can do as well as the children who have been regularly promoted.
The material for this study has been taken from the cumulative record cards of 743 white children who made up the total enrollment of grades 1A to 5A, inclusive, in three schools in September, 1913. With the exception of one school, it can be said that a very large majority of these children come from the average home, so that the group which has been selected for study can in no way be called a selected group.
The plan has been to study the actual progress made by these children during the time they have been in school. After this information had been secured, it was compared with the results from the Binet-Simon tests that had been used to test the mentality of these children. The information concerning the progress of these children as it was found on the cumulative record cards is presented first.
Students in school.
TABLE 22.-Distribution of 743 children by grades and terms in school.
1 2 3 4 5 6 term. terms. terms. terms. terms. terms.
7 8 9 10 11 12 13 terms. terms. terms. terms. terms. terms. terms.
14 15 16 terms. terms. terms.
Table 22 shows the great amount of more than normal time taken by 743 children in grades 1A to 5A, inclusive, of the three schools to make their present grades. The table is arranged by terms in school on the top horizontal line and by grades with boys and girls separate on the vertical line to the left. It is read as follows: 1A grade had in it 18 boys and 10 girls, all of whom have consumed more than the normal time therein. Of this number 14 boys and 9 girls are in their second term, 3 boys and 1 girl are in their third term, and 1 boy is in his fourth term.
The chief significance of this table is shown by the small number of students who have consumed the normal time in attaining their present grades in comparison with the large number of students who have spent a much longer time than normal to do the same work. This fact is shown, for example, by the distribution of the 68 boys and 57 girls in the 1B grade. Of this number only 45 boys and 41 girls, or about two-thirds, have made the grade in 2 terms, or the normal time, while 6 boys and 6 girls have taken 3 terms, 8 boys and 6 girls have taken 4 terms, 3 boys and 1 girl have taken 5 terms, 2 boys and 2 girls have taken 6 terms, 3 boys and 1 girl have taken 7 terms, and i boy has taken 10 terms.
It will be observed, too, that the proportion of children doing the work of the grades in normal time actually decreases the higher they advance through the grades, owing to the fact that the children in the upper grades have been in school longer and have had more opportunity to be retarded. The number of terms more than normal made by individual children, however, increases. In the 4B grade, for example, out of 32 boys and 37 girls, 10 boys and 18 girls—about one-third of the boys and about one-half of the girls—have attained that grade in 8 terms or normal time, while 6 boys and 2 girls have spent 9 terms, 7 boys and 8 girls have spent 10 terms, 4 boys and 3 girls have spent 11 terms, 4 boys and 1 girl have spent 12 terms, 1 boy and 2 girls have spent 13 terms, 1 girl has spent 14 terms, 1 girl 15 terms, and 1 girl 16 terms—8 terms or 4 years more than normal time.
The question naturally arises, Why is it that such a large number of boys and girls require a much longer time to do the grade work than they are expected to consume? Two possible answers to this question might be suggested in the form of questions which were raised at the beginning of this chapter. First, could it be possible that the standard set by the school system is wrong, even for the normal child, and second, is the subject matter selected suitable to reach the widely varying needs of the individuals who come into the school system?
Information which relates to these problems will be presented in other tables of this chapter.
TABLE 23.-Distribution of 743 children by grade and terms in school, showing the extent of slow, normal, and rapid progress.
Table 23 shows the same number of children-743-grouped according to "less than normal," "normal," and "more than normal" progress, in terms of totals and individuals as well as percentages. This table is read as follows: The figures along the top horizontal line represent terms in school, and the figures along the perpendicular line on the left represent grades, with boys and girls separated. None of the 18 boys and 10 girls in the 1A grade have made their grade in less than normal time, or in normal time. Of this number, 14 boys and 9 girls have been in school 1 term more than the normal time, 3 boys and 1 girl 2 terms more than normal time, and 1 boy 3 terms more than normal time. In the 3B grade, out of 43 boys and 32 girls, 2 boys have made their grade in 1 term less than normal time, 15 boys and 17 girls have made their grade in normal time, while 26 boys and 15 girls have taken more than normal time. Of these 26 boys and 15 girls, 8 boys and 6 girls have taken 1 term more than normal time, 6 boys and 5 girls have taken 2 terms more, 5 boys and 2 girls have taken 3 terms more, 3 boys and 2 girls have taken 4 terms more, 1 boy has taken 6 terms more, 2 boys have taken 7 terms more, and 1 boy has taken 8 terms more than normal time.
The fact that every child in the 1A grade has taken more than normal time to secure his present standing calls for an explanation. This situation would give this grade 100 per cent retardation. Such a condition was brought about by the fact that these records were taken after the promotions and reorganization had been made in