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Table 35.-Distribution of the same selected group of 887 white children according to their grades and mental ages established by the Binet-Simon test.
53 46 23 26 8 8 8 7.... 112 12-11111....
.... 10 21 30 24 19 12 8 1 ........... 6863 30 24 1021 1021 ....... 28 18 19 12 861
Table 35 gives the distribution of the same selected group of 887 white children according to their grade and mental age established by the Binet-Simon mental test. The percentage of children testing under age, over age, and at age, according to the grades in which they were working, is as follows:
Percentage of children testing under age, over age, and normal.
It is not surprising to find 12 per cent of these 887 children testing under age or low mentally. In fact, when the basis for the selection of these children is taken into consideration, it is surprising that there is not a larger percentage of children in this group with very low mentality. But it would seem natural to expect that more than 40.5 per cent of these children would test normal. The most significant fact about these figures, however, is that 47.5 per cent test over age or high mentally. From experience, it would seem that the largest number of these children would test under age or low mentally.
Therefore there is a large number of these 887 children who are over age chronologically and who also test high mentally.
By actual count it is found that
1. In this selected group of 887 children, 795 are chronologically over age.
Of these 795 children, 373 children, or 46.7 per cent (42 per cent of the total number, 887), are also mentally over age.
2. Of these 887 children, 82 children are chronologically at age. Of these 82 children, 17, or 21.1 per cent (1.9 per cent of the total number, 887), are also mentally over age.
Therefore, in this group of 887 children who were selected because they were over age chronologically or had repeated frequently, 390, or 43.9 per cent, are over age mentally, and also either over age or at age chronologically.
It is quite clear, then, that a large number of boys and girls in both groups which have been studied are misplaced according to the mental test employed. If this test is an efficient means for determining where children ought to be, those children who test a year or more ahead ought to be advanced, while those who test a year or more behind ought to be given individual instruction through coaching or in special classes.
The value of special classes, where individual instruction can be given to the child who has fallen behind his grade through illness,
poor attendance, late entrance, and the like, has already been demonstrated. In a similar manner, the class for the child who is deficient in mentality has proved its worth for up-to-date school systems. Furthermore, the Binet-Simon test has been used with much success to select the children who have been placed in such classes. Can this test be employed to indicate where children who test ahead of their grade or high mentally ought to be placed ? A test of the validity of placing children according to mental tests would be found in actually accomplishing this performance.
For the purpose of ascertaining whether or not children can be advanced as indicated by the Binet-Simon scale, the principal of each school was given a typewritten sheet containing the names, the chronological ages, and the mental ages of all the children tested in his school. Along with this list was given a tabulation of the mental ages of the children by grades which showed those whose mental ages were above the normal chronological age of their grade, those whose mental ages were the same as the normal chronological age of their grade, and those whose mental ages were below the normal chronological age for their grade.
On the basis of this information, each principal was asked to go over the list with his teachers and wherever possible give those children who tested ahead (usually a year or more) of their grade a trial in the next grade. As a result of this experiment, 2 schools in which all of the children were tested and 2 schools in which only a selected group was tested succeeded in advancing children in accordance with the results of the mental test. Since there were 13 schools in which children were tested, it might be expected that if 4 schools could do this much, others ought to be able to do the same. Several causes, however, prevented. In the first place there were only 3 schools in which all the children were tested. In the other 10 schools only a selected group of children was tested. These children, as before stated, were selected because they were a year
over age chronologically or because they had made frequent repetitions. Consequently, the chances for children to test ahead in such a group were fewer. Moreover, because these children constituted a retarded group, there was, to some extent, a feeling that they could not do more advanced work, and, therefore, it was not worth while to give them a chance. In the second place these results, in a number of cases, were put in the hands of the principal too noar the end of the term, so that a trial in the grade above was practically impossible.
The results from this experiment in the 4 schools in which children were advanced according to their ability, as indicated by the BinetSimon test, are presented below, showing the number of children advanced and the grades which they skipped:
Of these 60 children, 30 children, or 50 per cent, were too old for their grade, both mentally and chronologically.
In addition to these children who were advanced without any special instruction, 55 children out of a group of 78 children who were placed in special classes in which they received individual instruction succeeded in skipping a grade in one term, or four and one-half months. The ages and grades at which these children skipped are as follows:
In addition to these 55 children who succeeded in skipping grades by means of individual instruction, there were two children who skipped two grades each—the 3A and 3B grades—in the same term.
While it is true that the number of children who have skipped grades is small, nevertheless this number serves to indicate what strong possibilities there are in such work where school authorities and teachers give more time and study to the widely varying needs and capacities of the children who come under their charge. There seems to be no question that, if the Binet-Simon test is a fair and accurate criterion of a child's mental achievement as well as of his mental capacity, as the results of this study seem to indicate, many of the children in the two groups which have been studied are being held back when they have the ability to advance more rapidly.
The results from the four schools where children were permitted to advance gradually, as indicated by the test, seem to warrant the conclusion, first, that the Binet-Simon test can be followed as a guide to a child's ability, and second, that a large percentage of children-much larger than was thought by principals and teachers—can not only be advanced to a higher grade and meet the requirements of that grade, but also maintain as high a standard as in the grade below and as high a standard as a great number of those who are normally promoted.
It is evident, then, that in the city of Richmond a very small percentage of school children have been completing their work in the time planned for them. Furthermore, a very large percentage of children have been leaving school long before the completion of the work of the elementary grades. It appears, therefore, that the school system as a business concern receives a different output from that for which it plans.
Furthermore, it is evident that the chronological age as a basis for determining the grading of pupils needs to be supplemented by the mental age. There are many children in the schools to-day who are able to do work in advance of what they are doing, and they should be permitted to do it.
For the purpose of determining the mental ages of children so that they can be properly placed in the grades, mental tests can be used to great advantage. The tests that are now available need to be supplemented by other tests, so that a greater degree of accuracy can be secured. In the near future tests for efficiency are destined to acquire a more prominent place in administering school systems than at present. Definite standards and tests are needed in order that output be made commensurate with expenditure.