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Devoted to the Science, Art, Philosophy and Literature
"At the Ninth Annual meeting of the Brown University Teachers' Association held in Providence, Friday and Saturday, March 31st, and April 1st, 1911, two general topics were discussed, namely: "The Relations between Colleges and Secondary Schools,” and “The Teacher and His Profession." which follow, presented these subjects in detail to the meeting. Copies of this number of EDUCATION are mailed to each member of the Brown University Teachers' Association, and additional copies can be purchased of the Publishers at the special rate of 25 cents each."
How the College Entrance Certificate Board
Can Help the High School
WESTERLY, R. I.
It was not so very many years ago that every JUMUINIHILOMIMINUIC
pupil who had completed the elementary school course, and wished to enter the high school, was compelled to submit to the ordeal of an examination before he could enter upon this higher work. If such a pupil could answer seven out of the ten questions set for this examination, the high school door was opened to him; if he could answer only six questions he was turned away as unfit for a higher education. Yet, in the next town, perhaps, the requirement might be only six questions out of ten, and a pupil fortunate enough to live in the latter place would reap success where his neighbor had reaped failure. This
practice is, however, a relic of the wisdom of our educational past, and we have used it as a stepping-stone to better things. It took, nevertheless, a comparatively long time for school men to see the absurdity of placing an obstacle between the eighth and the ninth, or the ninth and the tenth years of the school course, yet today the schoolman who would return to the examination plan for admitting pupils to the high school is the rare exception. The high school principal has learned that in general, it is quite as well to trust the judgment of his brother principal in the lower school as to the ability of pupils to do high school work, as it is to trust the verdict of examination papers. The spirit of antagonism that used to exist between the high school and the elementary school has largely given place to a spirit of co-operation, due chiefly to a better recognition of the fact that high school and elementary school are closely related parts of one systematic whole. This recognition is largely the result of the study of educational principles in our normal schools, in schools of education and in our educational literature. Such study has led superintendents and high school principals to hesitate to pass judgment on the work of the elementary schools when in general the work of these schools, both in methods and in results, is markedly superior to that of the high schools. I make this statement advisedly, for it is evident to anyone who will take the trouble to study the problem that the elementary schools, notwithstanding their many defects, are the only schools in which there is any large amount of really scientific teaching, that is teaching that hits the mark by reaching individual needs. We find less and less of this teaching as we go up the educational ladder, until the university student often thinks that real teaching is no part of the higher learning. Yet, the real teacher is much needed and appreciated all along the line.
The co-operation which now exists between the high schools and the elementary schools has largely come through the recognition on the part of high school principals and teachers that the principals and teachers of the lower schools know their work and that their judgment is worthy of confidence. This confidence has not been abused. It has resulted in making the high schools greater instruments of usefulness.
Furthermore, the attempts to bring about co-operation between
the high schools and the colleges have resulted in mutual benefit wherever such attempts have been seriously made. Few will deny the success of the plan of accrediting high schools that was inaugurated by the University of Michigan in 1871. As far back as 1856 President Henry P. Tappan of that institution, discussed the “true position" of the university “and its relation to our entire system of public education.” He said: "Nothing is
“ more evident than that the three grades of education—the primary, the intermediate, the university—are all alike necessary. The one cannot exist in perfection without the others; they imply one another. It is to the honor of Michigan that she has conceived of a complete system of public education running through the three grades we have discussed above."
In such a system the step from the high school to the college or university should be made as easy as that from the elementary school to the high school. This end was brought about in Michigan by having a committee of university professors inspect the work of the different high schools in the state. The schools were examined rather than the students, and such schools as were found to meet the university requirements were placed on the approved list and their certified graduates were received into the university without examination.* The plan has worked well and, with some modifications, has been widely adopted.
"It would be hard to estimate," writes Commissioner Brown, "the good already accomplished by the accrediting system in spite of all defects. It has given to communities a means which had been lacking, of discovering the deficiencies, and likewise the excellencies of their schools. It has greatly aided the better principals and teachers in their efforts to maintain high standards of scholarship. It has quickened the intellectual life of schools and of whole communities by the immediate touch of university ideals. In some states, as in Missouri, it has virtually called into being a new and better and more general provision for secondary education, within a very few years. In some states, under its influence, the improvement of the teaching force in such schools has gone forward at an unprecedented rate.”+
The strong feature of the plan is that it brings to bear the
•The American High School, Brown, p. 68.
personal element in judging the efficiency of schools. It has seemed best, therefore, before specifically pointing out ways by which the College Entrance Certificate Board can help the high schools, to make it very clear that the board's present impersonal plan of accrediting schools is at best only a step on the way to a better plan of personal inspection and co-operation, similar perhaps to the Michigan plan. It is difficult to understand how the colleges which expect their graduates to be accepted without examination by all graduate schools can, with any degree of consistency, refuse to accept the graduates of approved high schools for admission to their freshman classes. We say approved high schools, meaning schools that have been placed upon an accredited list after a personal examination by a competent inspector or board of visitors representing a college, or a group of colleges, such as the group composing the present College Entrance Certificate Board. It is safe to maintain that no plan of accrediting which, without any personal investigation or examination, decides that a high school is good or poor, can be other than a temporary expedient which must sooner or later give way to some plan that will take account of real conditions as they exist in high schools; some plan which will give the teachers in the high schools the feeling that their efforts are known and justly valued. In short, there can be no true co-operation between colleges and secondary schools until the teachers in the two institutions come to know each other better in the true sense of justly recognizing the work that each is trying to do. The college teachers must learn to respect and to have confidence in the secondary school teachers much in the same way that the high school teachers have learned to respect and trust the teachers of the elementary schools.
This rather lengthy introduction has given an inkling of what my first point will be. It is this: The College Entrance Certificate Board can do a vast amount of good among the high schools of New England by making provision for skilled inspection of these schools. Such work might well be done by a secretary of the board who would devote nearly all his time to making such visits of inspection. This inspector should be a man who has had experience enough in high school work to enable him to judge conditions in schools intelligently and fairly. He should
make his visits in the spirit of a sympathetic helper rather than in the spirit of a destructive critic, his business being to find out by actual observation the kind of work a school is doing. If he finds weaknesses in a school he should discuss them fully and frankly with those in charge to the end that such weaknesses may be remedied.
He should also be a man big enough and wise enough to give some needed advice to college authorities particularly in regard to their courses and methods of teaching in the freshman year. He should be able to lead certain college teachers that allow fifteen or twenty per cent. of their students to fail, to give time enough to introspection to recognize the fact that in any other kind of business such an amount of failure or loss would lead to reorganization and readjustment of conditions, even to the shaking up of those in charge.
Furthermore, as secretary of the board, this inspector should require full reports from the colleges on the work of the pupils who fail during the period of probation. The information and criticism contained in these reports should be sent at the earliest possible moment to the principals of the schools at which the pupils were prepared. The failure of a student is of sufficient importance to merit a much more detailed explanation on the part of college authorities than is now given. I feel sure that if the colleges were compelled to give more detailed explanations as to the causes of the failure of freshmen, they would find high school preparation less at fault than they are now accustomed to believe. There are often many elements that enter into college failure other than faulty high school preparation.
Here is an example. Not many years ago two boys, prepared at a high school that I know very well, entered college. Both failed in their freshman mathematics. These failures were reported to the principal of the school by the college authorities, no explanation being given. The principal at once wrote to the college asking for an explanation of the failures, thinking that if the boys' preparation were at fault he would try to strengthen the work of the school in mathematics. He soon received a letter from the head of the department of mathematics, stating that the college had no fault to find with the boys' preparation in mathematics. In one case the failure was due to too much attention to