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Full text of "Laggards in our schools; a study of retardation and elimination in city school systems"

LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION 
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CHARITIES PUBLICATION COMMITTEE 

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158 ADAMS STREET, CHICAGO 



RUSSELL SAGE 
FOUNDATION 



LAGGARDS IN OUR 
SCHOOLS 

A STUDY OF RETARDATION AND 

ELIMINATION IN CITY 

SCHOOL SYSTEMS 

BY 

LEONARD P. AYRES, A.M. 

SECRETARY BACKWARD CHILDREN INVESTIGATION, RUSSELL SAGE 

FOUNDATION; FORMER GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT OF 

SCHOOLS FOR PORTO RICO AND CHIEF OF THE 

DIVISION OF STATISTICS; CO-AUTHOR 

"MEDICAL INSPECTION OF 

SCHOOLS" 



OP THI 

UNIVERSITY 

OF 




NEW YORK 

CHARITIES PUBLICATION 
COMMITTEE MCMIX 



8ENEML 






Copyright, 1909, by 
THE RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION 



PRESS OF WM. F. FELL CO. 
PHILADELPHIA. 






TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PAGE 

LIST OF DIAGRAMS vii 

LIST OF TABLES ix 

INTRODUCTION xiii 

CHAPTER I 
The Backward Children Investigation i 

CHAPTER II 

The - Problems of Retardation and Elimination and Their 

Significance 8 

CHAPTER III 
Some Factors Affecting Grade Distribution 19 

CHAPTER IV 
Extent of Retardation in Different Systems and Schools 36 

CHAPTER V 
Mortality and Survival in the Grades 49 

CHAPTER VI 
The Elimination Study of the Bureau of Education 66 

CHAPTER VII 
Rates of Progress 73 

CHAPTER VIII 
The Money Cost of the Repeater 89 

CHAPTER IX 
Causes of Leaving School 99 



192630 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

CHAPTER X 

PAGE 

The Nationality Factor 103 

CHAPTER XI 
Physical Defects and School Progress 117 

CHAPTER XII 
Irregular Attendance as a Contributory Cause of Retardation 132 

CHAPTER XIII 
Promotions 141 

CHAPTER XIV 
The Factor of Sex 1 50 

CHAPTER XV 
Age the Controlling Factor in Elimination 1 59 

CHAPTER XVI 
Are Conditions Improving? 170 

CHAPTER XVII 
An Index of Efficiency for Public School Systems 175 

CHAPTER XVIII 
Remedial Measures Legislative and Administrative 185 

CHAPTER XIX 
Reform in and through School Records. ." 201 

CHAPTER XX 
Retardation and Society 216 

INDEX.. 221 



vi 



LIST OF DIAGRAMS 

DIAGRAM PAGE 

I. Distribution by ages of children in city school 

systems 1 1 

II. Grade distribution in 386 cities on the basis of 1000 

children in the first grade 13 

III. Grades and High Schools in North Carolina 15 

IV. Grades and High Schools in Tennessee 16 

V. Grades and High Schools in Utah 17 

VI. Grade distribution under ideal conditions. 23 

VII. Decrease through death 24 

VIII. Decrease through death and the population factor. 25 
> m IX. Grade distribution influenced by retardation and 

elimination 32 

X. Grades modified by the factors of population, re- 
tardation and elimination 32 

XI. Retarded children in tne grades in Memphis 39 

XII. Showing general tendency of elimination in city 

school systems 60 

XIII. Retardation and elimination. Conditions com- 

pared in Camden and Medford 61 

XIV. General tendency of elimination as stated by Dr. 

Thorndike represented by dotted line, contrasted 
with results presented by the author represented 

by solid line 71 

XV. Pe'r cent of pupils repeating work of grades 75 

XVI. Rates of progress of 9489 pupils in New York City. 82 
XVI I . Contrasting number of pupils making rapid progress 

with those making slow progress 83 

XVIII. Population of foreign parentage in the United 

States, by groups of states 104 

XIX. Per cent of the white population of the United 

States in school at the ages five to fourteen 105 

XX. Retardation by nationalities in New York City. 

Percentages 107 



Vll 



LIST OF DIAGRAMS 



DIAGRAM 

XXI, 



Per cent that foreign born pupils are of all pupils 



in elementary and high schools in four cities. . no 
XXII. Pupils of foreign parentage in schools of Buffalo. 1 1 1 

XXIII. Foreign children in the schools of Haverhill,Mass. 1 1 1 

XXIV. Foreigners in the schools of New Britain, Conn.. 1 12 
XXV. Children of foreign parentage in the schools of 

Reading, Pa 113 

XXVI. School children in Worcester, Mass., showing in- 
crease in proportion of Americans (outlines), 
and decrease in proportion of children of foreign 
parentage (hatched) and foreign birth (solid 
black) in the upper grades and the high school. . 114 
XXVII. Average number of grades completed by pupils 
having no physical defects compared with num- 
ber completed by those suffering from different 

sorts of defects 127 

XXVIII. Attendance in St. Louis in 1907 137 

XXIX. Average promotion rates from records of sixteen 

cities 1 44 

XXX. Number failing and number not failing in eight 

grades in each 1000 pupils 148 

XXXI. Increase in the number of failures in eight grades 
among 1000 pupils with each decrease in the 

per cent promoted 148 

XXXII. Showing the falling off of the number of boys and 

girls in the successive high school classes 151 

XXXIII. Showing the relative distribution of boys and girls 

in the elementary grades 153 

XXXIV. Per cent retained to final grade in thirty-seven 

cities compared with per cent of beginners pres- 
ent at six and per cent present at fifteen 165 

XXXV. Age at starting and time in school of 269 eighth 

grade pupils in New York City 167 

XXXVI. Age at starting and time in school of 967 fifth 

grade pupils in New York City 168 

XXXVII. Cambridge plan of flexible grading 195 

XXXVIII. School census results in Springfield, Mass 203 

viii 



LIST OF TABLES 



1. Aggregate grade distribution in 386 cities 13 

2. Grade distribution in North Carolina in 1906 14 

3. Grade distribution in Tennessee in 1906 15 

4. Grade distribution in Utah in 1906 16 

5. Grade distribution in Chicago in 1906 20 

6. Grade distribution in a stationary population with no deaths 22 

7. Grade distribution showing decrease through death 23 

8. Grade distribution as influenced by two elements, death and increase of 

population 25 

9. Per cent of promotion in five cities 27 

10. Grade distribution when 80 per cent of the pupils are promoted, all finish, 

and the population factor does not enter 27 

1 1 . Decline in attendance, ages ten to sixteen, in 58 cities. Relative figures 28 

12. Age and grade distributions. Stationary population. Retardation and 

elimination both operative 30 

13. Grade distribution showing modification by different factors 31 

14. Grade distribution on basis of 1000 pupils in first grade in three cities 33 

15. Grade and age distribution in Memphis, Tenn., June, 1908, showing 

number and per cent of retarded pupils 37 

16. Normal ages of children in the grades 38 

17. Number and per cent of retarded pupils. Enrollment in September. 

Six cities 43 

18. Number and per cent of retarded pupils. Enrollment in June. Five 

cities 43 

19. Number and per cent of retarded pupils. Enrollment in June after pro- 

motion. Two cities 44 

20. Number and per cent of retarded pupils. Total enrollment. Eight 

cities 44 

21. Number and per cent of retarded pupils. Enrollment at a given date. 

Twelve cities 44 

22. Per cent of retarded pupils. Thirty-one cities .-, 45 

23. Per cent of pupils above normal age, by schools. New York investiga- 

tion, 1908 46 

24. Boys' and girls' schools compared 47 

25. Enrollment by grades. Boston, January 31, 1906 50 

26. Grades in Boston. Relative figures 50 

27. Age distribution in Medford, Mass., September 30, 1907 51 

28. Grades in Somerville, Mass., December, 1907 53 

29. Grades in Reading, Pa., March, 1907 54 



LIST OF TABLES 

NUMBER PAGE 

30. Showing the number of children beginning school annually in each of 59 

cities and the per cent which each grade is of the number of beginners. . . 55-5 7 

31. Showing grades in which children begin to leave school in large numbers 

in different cities 62 

32. Showing the percentage of pupils retained to the fourth year of high school 

in fifty-one cities 64 

33. Per cent of pupils entering school who continue to the final elementary 

grade in sixteen cities 67 

34. Comparison as in Table 33 for eight cities 67 

35. Number of beginners in four cities 69 

36. Showing in relative figures grade distributions in cities and villages on the 

basis of 1000 pupils in the fifth grade 72 

37. Number of pupils more than one year in the same grade in three cities 74 

38. Per cent of pupils repeating work of grades in three cities 75 

39. Total promotions and special promotions in five cities 76 

40. Slow and rapid pupils compared in five cities 76 

41 . Pupils making slow, normal and rapid progress compared in five cities 77 

42. Causes of retardation, by grades, of 9489 pupils in New York city 78 

43. Time in school, by grades, of 9489 pupils in New York city 79 

44. Extent of slow, normal and rapid progress among 9489 pupils in New York 

city 80 

45. Showing number of children by grades who have reached their present 

standing in less than normal time, in normal time, and in more than 

normal time in New York city. Original data Si 

46. Relative figures showing pupils making slow, normal and rapid progress Si 

47. Time required to do the work of four grades in each of twenty-nine cities 86 

48. Showing time required to complete eight grades at same rate as is shown 

between grades i and 5 in twenty-nine cities 87 

49. Enrollment by grades, Columbus, 1906 91 

50. Enrollment by ages, Columbus, Ohio, 1906 92 

51. Comparison between computed results and official figures 95 

52. Number and cost of repeaters in fifty-five cities 96 

53. Causes of withdrawal of pupils from high schools in five cities 99 

54. Reasons for leaving high school. Percentages 100 

55 . Causes of withdrawal of pupils from elementary schools in six cities 10 1 

56. Reasons for leaving elementary schools. Percentages 102 

57. Retardation by nationalities in New York city. Percentages 107 

58. Comparison between retention of pupils in school and per cent of foreign 

parentage in populations, in three groups of cities 115 

59. Comparative standing in studies of 219 normal and defective children in 

Philadelphia 117 

60. Per cent of exempt and non-exempt children having physical defects 118 

6 1 . Physical defects found in exempt and non-exempt children 1 1 S 

62. Defective eyesight and hearing among 10,130 normal and retarded children 

in Camden, N. J 119 

x 



LIST OF TABLES 

NUMBER PAGE 

63. Physical defects among normal and retarded children who failed of pro- 

motion in Camden, X. J 120 

64. Causes assigned for excessive age 120 

65. Per cent of normal and retarded children having physical defects by 

grades. Xe\v York city 121 

66. Per cent having each defect, at ages six and fifteen 121 

67. Physical defects of 3304 children, ages ten to fourteen, in Xew York city. . 124 

68. Per cent of dull, normal and bright pupils suffering from each sort of 

defect. Ages ten to fourteen inclusive. All grades 125 

69. Average number of grades completed by pupils having no physical defects 

compared with number completed by those suffering from different 
defects. Central tendency among 3304 children, ages ten to fourteen 
years in grades i to 8 127 

70. Showing per cent loss in progress of children suffering from each sort of 

physical defect 128 

71. Comparison of enrollment and attendance in six cities 133 

72. Character of attendance in St. Louis in 1907 135 

73. Attendance in St. Louis in 1907. Relative figures 135 

74. Attendance in St. Louis in 1907, by fourths of the school year 136 

Persistence of attendance of pupils in different cities and in Porto Rico... 138 
Comparison between percentages of attendance and promotion in three 

cities 138 

77. Hypothetical grade distribution influenced by retardation and elimination. . 140 

78. Promotions in sixteen cities. Percentages : 143 

79. Showing age and grade distribution in the eighth year in a city where 1000 

children enter school each year and are promoted according to the per- 
centages shown in the preceding diagram. Xonedieand none drop out. 145 

80. Results of average percentages of promotion 145 

81. Showing age and grade distribution in the eighth year in a system where 

1000 children enter each year and are promoted according to the Haver- 
hill rate. Xone die and none drop out 146 

82. Effects of average promotion rates as compared with rates obtaining in 

Haverhill, Mass 147 

83. Showing for each 1000 pupils how many do not fail and how many fail in 

eight years of school life, and aggregate number of failures under 
different promotion percentages - 147 

84. Membership of 7,624 American high schools, 1906-7 151 

85. Membership of 7,624 American high schools in 1906-7. Proportional 

numbers J5 1 

86. Grade distribution by sexes in 752 cities, 1906-7 152 

87. Grade distribution by sexes in 752 cities. Proportional numbers 152 

88. Per cent of retarded pupils among boys and among girls in fifteen cities 154 

89. Showing percentages of boys and girls retained to the final elementary 

grade in thirteen cities *55 

90. Xumber of repeaters among boys and girls in fourteen cities 156 



LIST OF TABLES 



91. Per cent of promotion among boys and girls in two cities 156 

92. Grade and age distribution in Cincinnati 159 

93. Per cent of pupils retained to final grade, number at six years of age and 

number at fifteen years in thirty-seven cities. Relative figures on the 
basis of 1000 beginners 162 

94. Age at starting, time in school and average age of 269 eighth grade pupils 

in New York city 1 66 

95. Age at starting, time in school and average age of 967 fifth grade pupils 

in New York city 1 68 

96. Per cent of retarded pupils in six cities for a series of years 171 

97. Showing the percentage of the entire membership of the elementary schools 

enrolled in the grades from the kindergarten to the fourth grade in 
forty-seven cities for a series of years 172 

98. Grade distribution in Cleveland in 1906 1 78 

99. Membership of final three grades in two cities 179 

100. Number of beginners. Relative membership of grades for each 1000 

beginners and index of efficiency for fifty-eight cities 180 

101. State averages of indexes of efficiency 182 

102. Indexes of efficiency of thirteen cities 184 

103. Children between five and fifteen in New Bedford, Mass., 1908 192 

104. Grade and age distribution in Springfield, Mass., enrollment in Sep- 

tember, 1907 205 

105. Total enrollment and average attendance, Springfield, Ohio, 1907 208 

106. Showing the number of pupils attending for different numbers of days, 

Springfield, Ohio, 1907 208 



INTRODUCTION 

DURING the past decade it has been increasingly realized 
that the education of children who are defective in body, 
mind, or morals is a matter of great importance to the 
future of the state. Extensive studies carried on in Great Britain 
have shown an alarming amount of degeneration. Definite and 
extensive steps looking toward the care of defective children have 
been taken in many civilized countries; but the crux of the matter 
does not lie in the care of these unfortunates. At most they do not 
constitute more than from one to two per cent of the school popu- 
lation, and it does not appear that any considerable fraction of 
them can ever be educated so as to become independent members 
of the community. 

The great problem lies in the very much larger class of those 
who, while they are not defective, do not keep up with their 
fellows. These, constituting from five to fifty per cent of our 
school population, can become either failures or successes in life, 
according to the influences that are brought to bear upon them 
during their early years. 

About this large group we need facts. Are they in their 
present condition largely because of removable physical dis- 
abilities, such as hypertrophied tonsils or adenoids, defective 
vision or hearing, or malnutrition? Do they drop behind in their 
school life because of illness? Are they behind because of late 
entrance into the schools? To what extent is irregularity of 
attendance a factor in delayed progress? Is compulsory labor 
after school hours an important factor? When do they drop out 
of school, and for what reasons? Are there any schools that 
succeed in educating an appreciably larger per cent of these chil- 
dren than do others? If so, how is it done? 

Data with which to answer these questions were not in 
existence. Application was therefore made to the Russell Sage 



INTRODUCTION 

Foundation for a modest grant with which to make a preliminary 
survey that might 

(1) Put together useful material bearing on these topics; 

(2) Develop a mode of attack on the problem; 

(3) Analyze a sufficiently large number of cases to demon- 
strate the utility of the method and give answers of at least a 
provisional nature to some of the questions. 

The grant was allowed in the fall of 1907. 

The matter was also laid before Dr. William H. Maxwell, 
Superintendent of Schools of New York City, who has given the 
fullest possible cooperation, as well as allowed access to schools 
and to school records, without which the investigation could not 
have been made. 

The next step consisted in the discovery of some one who 
could conduct the investigation. To do work of the sort contem- 
plated satisfactorily is a most difficult matter, for it involves a 
technical knowledge of how to handle statistical material so as to 
avoid the many pitfalls presented, and at the same time get re- 
sults that shall be trustworthy and constructive. It also in- 
volves extensive experience in school administration and the widest 
possible knowledge of the literature bearing on these subjects. 
We were exceedingly fortunate in securing Mr. Leonard P. Ayres, 
formerly General Superintendent of Schools for Porto Rico, and 
Chief of the Division of Statistics of the Insular Department of 
Education. 

In connection with the investigation it was necessary to 
secure as complete records as possible of medical inspection of 
school children. The material secured seemed sufficiently valu- 
able to warrant its publication. Accordingly it was embodied 
in a preliminary report* and published in 1908. 

Grateful recognition is due Dr. Roland P. Falkner, who 
has given the work of the investigation from its inception the great 
assistance of his keen insight into methods of social investigation 
and of his thorough knowledge of educational statistics. 

A report of the study, in so far as it related to the New York 

* 

* " Medical Inspection of Schools," by Gulick and Ayres. New York, 
1908. Published by Charities Publication Committee, for the Russell Sage 
Foundation. 

xiv 



INTRODUCTION 

schools, was submitted to Dr. William H. Maxwell and published 
by him as a part of his annual report for 1908. Besides this 
partial publication of the findings, many of the chapters have 
appeared in part or in whole as contributions to the educational 
press over the signature of Mr. Ayres. 

The most significant of the findings of the investigation are : 

(1) That the most important causes of retardation of school 
children can be removed; 

(2) That the old-fashioned virtues of regularity of attend- 
ance and faithfulness are major elements of success; 

(3) That some cities are already accomplishing excellent 
results by measures that can be adopted by all; 

(4) That relatively few children are so defective as to pre- 
vent success in school or in life. 

LUTHER H. GULICK, 
Chairman, Backward Children Investigation. 



xv 




CHAPTER I 

THE BACKWARD CHILDREN INVESTI- 
GATION 

IN his report for 1904 Dr. William H. Maxwell, City Super- 
intendent of Schools of New York, called attention to the 
fact that a large number of pupils (39 per cent in the 
elementary grades) were shown by his tables to be above the 
normal age for the grades they were in. In each annual report 
since then he has regularly- published similar tables. Concerning 
the condition thus disclosed there has been much discussion, and 
more than one school evil has been unhesitatingly labeled a con- 
sequence of "retardation," as the circumstance of mal-adjust- 
ment between the ages and grades of school children came to be 
termed. 

Many, causes were assigned in explanation of the conditions 
revealed. Among these some of the more prominent were the t 
constant influx of non-English speaking children, the enrolling | 
of~cfiildreri in the^1ri^1^gbd^aT^:^comparatively advanced age, 
the slow progress of children on account of physical defects , 
or weaknesses, inefficient teaching, unsuitable courses of study, I 
and the shifting of children from school to school by reason of the \ 
frequent changes of residence of their families. 

Briefly sketched this was the condition in regard to the prob- 
lem of backwardness or retardation among school children in New 
York City in the fall of 1907. Dr. Maxwell was not the only 
superintendent who had called attention to the matter, but his 
tables had revealed the conditions with a new force and definite- 
ness and focused the interest of educators on the problem. 
Whether the causes commonly assigned were all the causes or 
the most important of them and if they were, which among 
them predominated in weight no one knew. No adequate 
investigation to determine the answers to these questions had 
ever been made. 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

The importance of the problem, its evidently close bearing 
on the question of the adaptation of the school to the needs of 
the child, and the marked lack of definite information bearing 
on the question were the forces which impelled the Ru^elL^Sage 
,Eoftdfitirjirto-tmder4-ak -iir-theJfalL.of 1907-301 investigation into 
some phases of " the adaptability of the school and its grades to 
children." 

The object of the investigation was to study the problem of 
the progress of school children through the grades. Its interest 
was not in the individual, sub-normal, or atypical child but rather 
in that large class, varying with local conditions frorn^io^^-percent 
of all the children in our schools, v\ 
beJpiLxEhe 'grades they are, in. The^questions the investigation 
set itself to answer were these: How many of the children in 
our schools fail to make normal progress from grade to grade and 
why do they fail? How many of the children drop out of school 
before finishing the elementary course and why do they drop out? 
What are the facts and what are the remedies? 

Work was begun by making an intensive study of the school 
records of the pupils in one school in New York. The object 
was to outline the problems along definite lines, te test methods 
and to develop a system for more extensive work. While this 
preliminary study was under way it became necessary to turn 
aside temporarily from the purely local work to discover what 
was being done for children in different cities and countries 
along lines only partly allied to traditional school work. 

As a result of this study a volume was written on the Medical 
Inspection of Schools and the accumulated information in this 
field placed at the disposition of school workers? The investi- 
gation was then continued along the lines first mapped out' 

In the spring of 1908 a detailed investigation of the school 
records of 20,000 children in fifteen schools in Manhattan was 
undertaken. The ^children were about equally divided between 
the two sexes and represented a varying raj},ge of social and 
raciai^clasges. Trte~ffucly consisted of apflntensjye^Tl^critical 
study of the personal and schoDkrecords oTrh'e children and of 
the records of the physical examinations which iiad .been given 
toYnariy of them by the physicians of the Board of Health. 



THE BACKWARD CHILDREN INVESTIGATION 

While this study was being carried on and ever since its 
conclusion the available records of school conditions in most of 
the larger cities of the country were being subjected to searching 
analysis and comparison. 

The results of all of this work combine to form the present 
volume which is a report of the findings of the BackwardLChildren 
Investigation. The volume draws its material from the New 
YorTTThvestigation, from the collated material which contri- 
buted to the volume "Medical Inspection of Schools" and from the 
study of the school reports of a large number of American cities. 

The findings of the investigation and their lessons may 
be briefly outlined under the three headings: Conditions; Causes^ 
and Remedies. 

CONDITIONS 

In every school there are found some children who are 
older than they should be for the grades they are in. These 
children constitute serious problems for the. teachers. They are 
misfits in the classes, require special attention if they are to do 
satisfactory work and render more difficult the work with the 
other children. These children are known as over-age or retarded 
children. They are found in all school systems but are by no 
means equally common in all systems. In this regard there is 
an enormous variability among cities. In Medford, Massachusetts, 
only 7 per cent of the children are retarded according to the 
standard adopted, while in Memphis, Tennessee, among the 
colored children 75 per cent are retarded. All of the other cities 
studied fall between these two extremes. On_ the average about 
33 per cent of all of the pupils in our public schooTs belong to the 
class "retarded." This gives an idea of the magnitude of the 
problem with which we are dealing. It is not at all a problem 
concerning a few under-developed or feeble minded children. 
It is one affecting most intimately perhaps 6,000,000 children I 
in the United States. 

Wherever we find that the retarded children constitute a 
large part of all of the school membership we find that many of 
the children do not stay in the schools until they complete the 
elementary course. Children who are backward in their studies 

3 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

and reach the age of fourteen (which is generally the end of the 
compulsory attendance period) when they are in the fifth or sixth 
grade instead of in the eighth, rarely stay to graduate. They 
drop out without finishing. The educational importance of this 
fact is great. We are apt to think of the common school course 
as representing the least amount of schooling that should be 
permitted to anyone, but the fact remains that a large part of 
all of our children are not completing it. As retardation is a con- 
dition affecting all of our schools to some extent, so too elimina- 
tion, or the falling out of pupils before completing the course, 
is an evil found everywhere but varying greatly in degree in dif- 
ferent localities. In Quincy, Massachusetts, of every hundred 
children who start in the first grade eighty-two continue to the 
final grade. In Camden, New Jersey, of every hundred who start 
only seventeen finish. The other eighty-three fall by the way- 
side. The general tendency of American cities is to carry all 
of their children through the fifth grade, to take one-half of 
them to the eighth grade and one in ten through the high school. 

In the current discussion of retardation two claims have 
repeatedly been put forward by those who seek to show that 
retardation is not a serious matter and that in any event the 
responsibility of the school for existing conditions is small. These 
claims are, first, that if we find many over-age children in the 
schools it is because they enter at comparatively advanced ages; 
and secondly, that even if some children do progress slowly they 
are in a measure offset by an equal or greater number who make 
rapid progress. 

Our studies have thrown light on both of these contentions. 
The children who are retarded on account of late entrance are 
found to be only a small part of all of the retarded children. In 
New York City where children enter school on the average later 
than they do in many other cities, the retarded children whose 
backwardness is due to late entrance are found to constitute 
less than one-third of all. Since retardation is ascribable to 
only two conditions, late entrance and slow progress, and since 
late entrance is found to be only a small factor, slow progress, 
however caused, is proved to be the great factor in bringing about 
the existing condition. 

4 



THE BACKWARD CHILDREN INVESTIGATION 

The contention that the children who make slow progress 
are in a measure counterbalanced by a substantially equal number 
who make rapid progress is found to rest on an even slighter 
basis of fact. Taking the average of the conditions found in 
our city schools the figures show that for every child who is making 
more than normally rapid progress there are from eight to ten 
children making abnormally slow progress. In the lower grades, 
before the process of elimination enters to remove the badly 
retarded children, the average progress of the pupils is at the 
rate of eight grades in ten years. These 'conditions mean that our 
courses of 



child orJoilie average child hut to the unusually bright one. 

rnEeTower grades of our schools contain many children 
who are not going ahead at the normal rate, this means that there 
are large numbers of pupils who are doing the work of the grades 
they are in for the second or third time. These children are 
repeaters. The study of the figures from different cities reveals 
the importance of this class from both the educational and eco- 
nomic view points. The computations show that in the schools 
of Somerville a little more than 6 per cent of the children are 
repeaters. From this figure the records of the cities range up- 
wards until we reach Camden, New Jersey, with 30 per cent of 
the children in the repeating class. The average percentage 
is a little over 16. This means that in the country as a whole 
about one-sixth of all of the children are repeating and we are 
annually spending about $27,000,000 in this wasteful process ii 
of repetition in our cities alone. 

k 

CAUSES 

When we seek to analyze the causes which are responsible 
for the conditions which have been discussed we find the field 
a difficult one. There is no one cause for retardation nor can 
we say that any one cause is preponderant. Late entrance is a 
potent factor, irregular attendance is another. In both cases 
time lost through illness plays an important part. Certain 
physical defects are responsible for a part of the backwardness. 
On the basis of the investigation conducted in New York we can 
say that in general children suffering from the physical defects 

5 



^ OF THE 

UNIVERSITY 

OF 






LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

which are recorded in that city by the school physicians make 
nearly 9 per cent slower progress than do the children who are 
found on examination to have no defects. Children having some 
sorts of defects, adenoids for instance, are retarded still more. 

The study of the bearing of nationality on school progress 
has been fruitful. In general there is little relation between the 
percentage of foreigners in the different cities and the amount 
of retardation found in their schools. Some of our most foreign 
cities make very good records, while in some of our most American 
cities school conditions are very bad indeed. In the country as 
a whole there are more illiterates proportionately among native 
whites of native parents than among native whites of foreign 
parents and school attendance is more general among the latter 
than among the former. 

In the New York investigation it was shown that there are 
decided differences between the different races in the matter of 
school progress. There the Germans made the best records, 
followed by Americans, Russians, English, Irish and Italians 
in that order. Everywhere that investigations have been made 
it has been conclusively shown that ignorance of the English 
language is a handicap that is quickly and easily overcome and 
has little influence on retardation. 

Several other branches of the investigation have brought 
to light conditions of great educational importance, as for instance 
an inquiry into the effects of different rates of promotion on the 
number of times the average child fails during his course, which 
demonstrated that we are training our children well in failure. 

Another point on which important facts have been secured 
is the old question as to whether the child who enters school at 
say the age of eight or nine makes more rapid or slower progress 
than the one who enters at the age of five. 

Perhaps no more important set of facts has been brought 
to light than those relating to the relative standing of the two 
sexes. We have always known that fewer boys than girls go 
to the high school but we have not before known that there is 
per cent more retardation among boys than among girls and 

jr cent more repeaters among boys than among girls, or that 
the percentage of girls who complete the common school course 

6 



THE BACKWARD CHILDREN INVESTIGATION 



cent greater than the percentage of boys. These facts 
mean that our schools as at present constituted are jar better fitted 
to the needs of the girls than they are to those of the hoys. 

There is another thing that has been proved; namely, 
that these conditions which have been discussed are neither of 
recent origin nor are they growing worse. Conditions are slowly 
improving in most places but not in all and not rapidly. They 
are not improving so rapidly that we have any grounds for feeling 
that if let alone they will care for themselves. 

REMEDIES 

The possible remedies for the conditions which have been 
discussed may be divided into two classes, legislative and ad- 
ministrative. 

If children are to progress regularly through the grades 
they must be present in the schools. This means that we must 
have better compulsory attendance laws and better provision 
for their enforcement. If we are to enforce the 



we must know where the children of school age are. Therefore, 
we must have better laws for taking the school^ census and 
better methods for utilizing the returns. If we~are toTiave all 
of our children complete the common school course we must 
have an agreement which is now commonly lacking between the 
length of the school course and the length of the compulsory 
attendance period. It is a curious anomaly that we commonly 
have school courses eight or nine years in length and compel \ 
attendance for six years only. 

The administrative reforms which must be brought about 
consist mainly of more ^thorough and better medicalinp^tion, 
courses of study whictTwill moreTrTfcarly fifTfie^BITities of the t 
average"~pupil, mor^lTexrbte grading, and, most important of all, 
a better knowledge'of the^actiT We must have better school 
records and we"musrTe"a7rrto interpret them more intelligently. 
It is far from creditable that in hardly a city in the country can 
the school authorities tell how many pupils begin school each year, 
or how fast they advance, or what proportion finish or why they 
fall out, or where and why they lose time. 



CHAPTER II 

THE PROBLEMS OF RETARDATION AND 

ELIMINATION AND THEIR 

SIGNIFICANCE 

NO standard which may be applied to a school system as a 
measure of accomplishment is more significant than that 
which tells us what proportion of the pupils who enter the 
first grade succeed in reaching the final grade. It is this that 
gives the problem of the elimination of pupils from school and the 
cognate matter of retardation their educational importance. 

In our city school systems most of the children enter the first 
grade at the age of six or seven. Some of them are promoted 
each year and reach the eighth grade at fourteen or fifteen years 
of age. Others are not regularly promoted from grade to grade. 
They fall behind and at the age of fourteen they find themselves, 
not in the eighth grade, but in the fifth or sixth. This falling 
back process is termed retardation 

The retarded pupil finds himself in the same class with much 
younger companions. His age and size are a continual reproach 
to him. He begins to resent the maternalistic atmosphere of the 
lower grammer grades. He becomes discouraged through his lack 
of success and, when he has passed the compulsory attendance 
age, he leaves school. This dropping out process is termed //#!- 
ination. It is with these two processes retardation and elimina- 
'tion that this volume has to deal. 

The term retardation has been explained as referring to the 
pupil who is above the normal age for his grade. It will be so 
employed throughout this book, irrespective of how the pupil 
in question happens to be above normal age. The explanation 
may be that he has progressed slowly. It may be on the other 
hand that he entered school late and has never caught up with 
the other pupils of his own age. In either event he constitutes 
a serious problem for himself and for the school authorities, 



PROBLEMS OF RETARDATION AND ELIMINATION 

and falls within the class "retarded." As it is employed in this 
work the term expresses a condition, not a process or an expla- 
nation. 

We have always known that in our general educational sys- 
tem, the high schools occupy a somewhat privileged position, in 
that they deal with selected and not with average pupils. Few of 
the pupils of the common schools continue their work until they 
reach this institution of secondary instruction. But we have 
not known, or if we have known, we have failed to realize it, 
that large numbers of the children who enter the public schools 
never complete the work of the common schools. So far from 
completing it they drop out, often with no more progress than is 
^represented by four or five years of the grades. Perhaps this 
does not mean that our public school system is any worse than it 
used to be, but on the face of it it certainly does mean that the 
system is not nearly so good as it should be. 

The significance of the problem is attested by the utterances 
of educators of national prominence like Commissioner Andrew 
S. Draper of New York state and students of such distinction as 
Professor Edward L. Thorndike of Teachers College of Columbia 
University. In his report published in 1908, Dr. Draper says: 

" I have assumed that practically all of the children who do 
not go to the high schools do finish the elementary schools. That 
is not the fact. * * * * * J confess that it startles me to 
find that certainly not more than two-fifths and undoubtedly 
not more than a third of the children who enter our elementary 
schools ever finish them, and that not more than one-half of them 
go beyond the fifth or sixth grade/'* 

In the bulletin issued by the Bureau of Education in Feb-V 
ruary, 1908, Prof. Thorndike states the following conclusions: 

"At least 25 out of 100 children of the white population of 
our country who enter school stay only long enough to learn to read 
simple English, write such words as they commonly use, and 
perform the four operations for integers without serious errors. 
A fif thjot_Lhg^ children (white) en^er|ng_cjty_schools stay only to 
the fifth grade/' t 

* Report, 1906, p. 532. 

f "The Elimination of Pupils from School," p. 9. 

9 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

While as measures of the amount of the evil considered, the 
conclusions of Dr. Thorndike have been vigorously assailed and 
those of Dr. Draper have not been universally accepted, there is 
no difference of opinion as to the gravity of the evil. This much 
is clear many pupils leave school at a relatively low point in the 
school system. This point differs greatly in different cities but 
the condition nevertheless exists in all of them. 

The reasons for this elimination, which has attracted so much 
attention among educators, are not far to seek. Our public 
school system is commonly based on eight years' work, or eight 
grades. With few exceptions, wherever compulsory attendance 
laws exist school attendance becomes optional at the age of four- 
teen, and this age corresponds at least approximately with the 
physical and psychological changes in the child's life. 

We have here the condition under which elimination arises. 
Children very commonly avail themselves of the privilege of leav- 
ing school at fourteen. For a large part of all of the children, 
therefore, the question as to how much schooling they will receive 
is the question how much they can obtain before they reach 
the age of fourteen. In years, this obviously depends upon the 
age at which they enter school. In progress, it depends upon the 
rate at which they go forward during the years they are in atten- 
dance. 

Information as to age at entering and age at leaving may 
be gained from a study of Diagram I which shows in rela- 
tive figures the distribution by age groups of 1,982,477 children 
enrolled in the elementary and high schools of fifty-eight cities. 
The ten year old children are represented as being 100. Using 
this as a basis the other age groups are represented propor- 
tionally. 

There is little difference in size between the seven age groups 
at the ages from seven to thirteen inclusive. During these ages, 
going to school is the customary occupation of practicably "all of 
the children of our cities. But one-fourth of them have not yet 
started at the age of six and two out of every five have already left 
at the age of fourteen. A considerable number even anticipate the 
age of fourteen and leave at thirteen years. Now, since there are 
only six years (those from seven to twelve inclusive) during which 

10 



PROBLEMS OF RETARDATION AND ELIMINATION 



practically all of the children are in school, and, if we add the age 
of thirteen, only seven years when nearly all of them are in at- 
tendance, it becomes obvious why they cannot all receive eight 
years of schooling. 

When we consider that only those children who enter at six 
years of age can complete the eight elementary grades by regular 
progress before they reach the age of fourteen, we can better under- 
stand why it is that so few finish the elementary schools. No 
more than a man by taking thought can add one cubit to his 
stature can a child squeeze in more than eight years between his 

AGE GROUPS 

8 91011 12 

~^ 1!3 




5 24 77 92 96 98 100 
NUMBER IN EACH GROUP 



99 96 89 62 34 17 8 



2 .3 



Diagram I. Distribution by ages of children in city school systems. The 
ten year old children are here represented as one hundred; the other age groups 
are proportional. 

sixth and fourteenth birthdays. When we further consider that 
in no state, are children compelled to go to school until they are 
seven years of age, it is manifest that no child going to school under 
such compulsion, and leaving upon reaching the age of fourteen, 
can ever, by normal progress, finish the eight grade course pre- 
scribed by school authorities. Is it then surprising that so few 
pupils can finish the elementary school course? And if the ele- 
mentary schools represent a unit in education, is it not singular 
that our laws do not generally enforce this unit? 



LAGGARDS JW<OUR SCHOOLS 

v Vv ^ . 

But after all,jiow many pupils do pass through the schools 
regularly advancing from year to year as the course prescribes? 
Such regular progress we call normal advance, but when we ex- 
amine facts we find that here normal and average are far apart. 
Failure, so far from being abnormal is, judged by the standard 
of frequency, rather the rule than the exception. There are few 
children who pass through the schools without losing a term, a 
year, or more in the course of their studies. They may not be 
wholly to blame for it ; sickness or change of residence may ac- 
count for it in part. But whether so caused or whether it is the re- 
sult of indifference or inattention, the effect is the same so far as 
lengthening the whole time spent in school or hindering the pro- 
gress which can be made in a given number of years is concerned- 
The promotion figures in our schools show that every grade 
brings its quota of failures, and it can be readily understood that 
after two or three grades have been passed these numbers are ac- 
cumulated; and further, that in the upper grades few remain 
who have not some time or other in their previous school history 
a failure to their credit or discredit. 

In connection with our consideration of the very general rule 
of dropping out of school at fourteen, the influence of this failure 
to advance regularly is plain. It means that at the age of fourteen 
few pupils have reached the grade corresponding to the number of 
years since they entered school.* Most of them are in a lower 
grade, and consequently, if they drop out of school at the age of 
fourteen, they leave with an education far less complete than they 
might have been expected to attain. Hence it is that pupils may 
drop out of school in no inconsiderable numbers in the fourth 
and fifth grades with the most fragmentary education as their 
equipment for the work of life. 

No minute analysis of the figures showing the membership of 
the grades is necessary to convince even the casual student of the 
problem that this dropping out process is serious in its effects and 
far reaching in extent. This may be learned from a mere inspec- 
tion of figures. In the Report of the Commissioner of Education 
for 1907 are tables showing the grade distribution in 386 cities of 
8000 population and upwards. The aggregate figures, omitting 
the ninth grade, are as follows : 

12 



PROBLEMS OF RETARDATION AND ELIMINATION 



TABLE I, AGGREGATE GRADE DISTRIBUTION' fif 386 CITIES. 



-;- -, vv. 

?v.- Vv; 
r ' - Vi'- 

- ,-- 

, - i >>-.<: 
.-. 7- - -,'V. 

, : ::-..-:- '--:--.-.- 

? - - - 

- . ' - 

;- - vU.: 
; . - - : 




-; i 



: , : : _.'-' 



If we consider the pupils in the first grade as being repre- 
sented by looo pupils and represent the following grades by 
proportional numbers, we may construct a diagram in which 
the upright columns represent the membership of the successive 
grades: 




8 



n 



2-, 'ft. 72; 



Diagram IL-G 

- '." -.-.'- 7--. ';.-.--: -: ? " ?:V.*'.. 
_ t_ _ r __ < ^j *_*_ ? * 




^V2 ^; ss/ ^2 y* 
in 



56 

'.'.'. ' ~ '' ""'. 

-.''-.( - , v.;'; 

I to IV. 



13 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

For each 1000 pupils in the first grade we find only 263 in the 
eighth and only 56 in the fourth year of the high school. These 
figures represent average conditions in our city schools. 

It is not possible to compute from these figures how many 
children succeed in reaching each grade, or what proportion of the 
children drop out in each, for the children in the first grade are 
not all beginners. Some of them are repeaters who have been there 
two or three years. Nevertheless, the diagram shows convinc- 
ingly that many children drop out of school in the upper grades, 
that comparatively few reach the eighth grade, and that very few 
indeed complete the high school course. 

These conditions are far from being uniform in different 
sections of the country. Different cities furnish data of the most 
widely varying character. Even state systems exhibit marked 
individuality. This is shown by comparing the grade distribu- 
tions in the three states for which the report of the United States 
Commissioner for 1907 furnishes complete data. 

In North Carolina the grade distribution was as follows: 

TABLE 2. GRADE DISTRIBUTION IN NORTH CAROLINA IN 1906. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 140,742 

Second Grade 85,598 

Third Grade 74,710 

Fourth Grade 67,743 

Fifth Grade 50,684 

Sixth Grade 35,664 

Seventh Grade 19,611 

HIGH SCHOOL 

First Year 5,155 

Second Year 2,123 

Third Year . 876 

Fourth Year 274 



Total 483,180 

Expressing the first grade by 1000 as before, and the follow- 
ing grades by relative figures, we may illustrate this in graphic 
form'as shown in Diagram III. 

Conditions are somewhat different in Tennessee. With more 
pupils in the first three grammar grades and with a greater total 
enrollment, the schools of this state carry fewer pupils to the higher 



PROBLEMS OF RETARDATION AND ELIMINATION 



, 



1 n in iv 



1000 775 530 481 360 253 139 37 15 6 2 

Diagram III. Grades and High Schools in North Carolina. 



grammar grades and to the high school, 
and its expression in graphic form follow: 



The grade distribution 



TABLE 3. GRADE DISTRIBUTION IN TENNESSEE IN 1906. 



Grade 
First Grade 
Second Grade 
Third Grade 
Fourth Grade 1 
Fifth Grade > 
Sixth Grade 


Pupils 
. 149,656 
86,380 
75,328 
74,149 
61,469 

23,372 


Seventh Grade 


14,775 


Eighth Grade 


10,697 


HIGH SCHOOL 
First Year 
Second Year 
Third Year 


2,533 

1,222 

575 


Total 


500 156 



15 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



4 



8 



II III 



1000 579 505 497 412 157 99 72 17 8 4 

Diagram IV. Grades and High Schools in Tennessee. 

In decided contrast to conditions in these two states are 
those in Utah as shown in the table and in Diagram V. 

TABLE 4. GRADE DISTRIBUTION IN UTAH IN 1906. 



Grade 

First Grade . 
Second Grade 
Third Grade 
Fourth Grade 
Fifth Grade . 
Sixth Grade . 
Seventh Grade 
Eighth Grade 

HIGH SCHOOL 
First Year 
Second Year 
Third Year . 
Fourth Year . 

Total 



Pupils 

10,991 

8,961 

9,362 



16 



8,019 

7,u7 
6,056 

4,742 

967 
352 

201 
140 

66,339 



PROBLEMS OF RETARDATION AND ELIMINATION 





2 


3 


4 


5 


6 


7 


8 


I 
















11 III IV 


1000 815 852 858 730 648 551 432 88 32 18 13 



Diagram V. Grades and High Schools in Utah. 



The pupils in the final grammar grade in North Carolina are 
only 14 per cent of the number in the first grade. In the case of 
Tennessee the per cent is 7.2. In Utah, the number of eighth 
grade pupils is 43 per cent of the first grade ones. These illus- 
trations will suffice to show how conditions vary in different local- 
ities. 

No attempt has been made to treat the problem in hand in 
any but the most general way in this chapter. The object has 
been to emphasize a few of the more fundamental conditions which 
underlie the phenomena of retardation and elimination. This 
object will have been attained if the following propositions have 
been made clear: 

i . The pupil who is above the normal age for his grade is 
termed retarded. Such pupils constitute a large part of the mem- 
bership of our schools. 

17 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

2. Many retarded pupils, finding themselves, at the end of 
the compulsory attendance period, one or more grades below the 
final one, leave school without completing the elementary course. 
This process is termed elimination. 

3. Whatever the stage of their advancement, a large part of 
the pupils of our schools leave at the age of fourteen. As many 
of them do not enter until after the age of six, and as most of them 
do not progress regularly at the rate of a grade each year, very 
few of them complete the elementary course by the time they 
reach the end of the compulsory attendance period. 

4. These conditions vary greatly in different cities and states. 
The evils of retardation and elimination exist everywhere. In 
some places they are very serious; in others they have been re- 
duced to a minimum. 



18 



CHAPTER III 

SOME FACTORS AFFECTING GRADE 
DISTRIBUTION 

STUDENTS and critics of our public school systems are giv- 
ing more and more attention to the figures printed in the 
annual reports of superintendents and school boards. They 
are seeking to discover whether the record which lies embedded in 
the statistical statements of actual conditions is one of accom- 
plishment or of failure. As they thumb the pages of school re- 
ports in .quest of evidence they cannot escape the impression that 
the records are only fragmentary. Born of real or fancied ad- 
ministrative necessities, colored oftentimes by a local point of 
view, the printed statistical tables may throw light upon educa- 
tional questions, but it is incidental to their main purpose. As the 
published figures are analyzed with a view to gain an answer to 
specific queries, the consciousness deepens that the light which 
the figures shed is rarely simple and pure, but is highly complex a 
synthesis of the most varied elements. 

In recent discussion much has been made of the falling off in 
the number of children in the successive grades, from the first to 
the eighth. Writers .who have otherwise the most varied points 
of view have perceived in such numerical decrease a test of the 
efficiency of school systems. Those of a more gifted imagination 
have seen in them evidence of a conspicuous failure of our schools 
to accomplish the purpose for which they are designed, while 
those more cautious by nature have not hesitated to make it a 
reproach upon certain cities that their upper grades contained 
relatively fewer pupils than those of other localities. 

The feeling that grade records embody facts of far-reaching 
consequence is widespread. It reveals itself in an increasingly 
general publication of figures giving the grade membership. 
Such tables are appearing in reports of city schools, where they 

1 9 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

have heretofore been lacking. The latest report of the Commis- 
sioner of Education of the state of New York contains a summary 
of the facts for the cities of the state, and the forthcoming report 
will go into further details, giving not only the number in the 
grades, but the ages of the pupils in each of the grades for the cities 
of the state. The report of the United States Commissioner of 
Education for 1906 gives the grade distribution of the school 
children in 127 cities. The 1907 report contains similar data for 
upwards of 700 towns and cities. 

Side by side with this more abundant presentation of the orig- 
inal data have appeared certain attempts at interpretation. In 
the school reports we find an occasional, not always very enlighten- 
ing, comment upon the reasons of this falling off in the grades. 
It is in part upon an interpretation of such figures that Commis- 
sioner Draper of New York state based the cogent argument for 
industrial education which gave such marked distinction to his 
latest annual report. Nor will it be forgotten that the interpre- 
tation of such figures added to the heat if not to the light of the 
discussion at the meeting of the Department of Superintendence at 
Washington in February, 1908. 

Figures showing grade distribution in city school systems form 
the simplest and most common sort of statistical information 
bearing on this subject. Wherever such figures are printed their 
most prominent characteristic is the diminution in the numbers of 
children in the successive grades. Thus the report of the Board 
of Education of Chicago for 1906 gives the average grade member- 
ship in that city as follows : 

TABLE 5. GRADE DISTRIBUTION IN CHICAGO IN 1906. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade ... 43,560 

Second Grade 34,33 

Third Grade ... 32,814 

Fourth Grade 30,004 

Fifth Grade . 28,056 

Sixth Grade . 22,540 

Seventh Grade 17,643 

Eighth Grade . i 2 >939 

Here the figures show us that the second grade is far smaller 
than the first, the third considerably less numerous than the 

20 




SOME FACTORS AFFECTING GRADE DISTRIBUTION 

second, and so on until we reach the eighth grade, which is con- 
siderably less than one-third as large as the first. Nor should it 
be supposed that Chicago is exceptional in this respect. On the 
contrary, very many cities show even greater disparities in their 
grade distributions. 

The natural conclusion of the casual student of such figures is 
that the pupils are dropping out of school all the time, and hence 
the number in each grade diminishes as the grades advance. 
In the case cited, that of Chicago, the immediate interpretation of 
the figures is that of each forty-three children entering the first 
grade, no more than thirteen reach the eighth, and still fewer 
graduate. That such a conclusion is not justified is made evident 
by a study of some of the factors contributing to bring about the 
disparity in numbers noted in the several grades. The assumption 
that the grades should normally be about equal in number rests 
upon the very common idea that substantially the same number of 
children enter school each year, that they advance with fair 
regularity from grade to grade, and that they remain until the 
completion of the elementary course. 

In fact, all of these suppositions are erroneous. To begin with, 
there is a certain natural decrease in the number of children with 
advancing age which is due to death; so that we may always 
expect to find fewer persons with each advancing year of age. 
Secondly, there is an increase in the size of each successive and 
younger generation of children which is due to the natural in- 
crease in population. Looked at from the standpoint of the age 
fourteen, each younger generation is larger. Looked at from the 
standpoint of the age of seven, each older generation is smaller 
than the preceding. It is obvious that there are in New York 
state more five year old children today than there were five years 
ago, and hence at the present time more five-year-olds than 
ten-year-olds. These two elements that of death and that of the 
increased size of each succeeding generation contribute to form 
the factor of population. 

All children do not advance regularly from grade to grade; 
some of them are left behind to repeat a year or two. This is the 
factor of retardation. 

All children do not complete the elementary schools. In 

21 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

some localities few and in others more leave the early or primary 
grades, but in all localities great numbers leave the grammar 
grades upon reaching the age of fourteen. This is the factor of 
elimination. 

Other factors may and undoubtedly do affect the size of grades 
in certain cases and localities. Among the possible factors may be 
mentioned the influx of children whose schooling has already been 
begun in other places, the tide to and from private and parochial 
schools, and the enrollment of immigrant children who enter the 
schools at comparatively advanced ages. But such factors are 
local and irregular in their influence and undoubtedly compen- 
satory to a certain extent in their action. On the other hand, 
the three factors of population, retardation and elimination are 
always present. 

THE FACTOR OF POPULATION 

Two elements contributing to form the factor of population 
have been mentioned: decrease by death and the natural increase 
in successive age generations caused by an increasing population. 
If for the moment we assign an age to each grade, beginning with 
seven years as the age of pupils in the first grade, and if we suppose 
for the sake of .argument a stationary school population in which 
1000 pupils enter school each year, none die, and none drop out, 
we have a grade distribution as follows : 

TABLE 6. GRADE DISTRIBUTION IN A STATIONARY POPULATION 
WITH NO DEATHS. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 1000 children 7 years old 

Second Grade 1000 children 8 years old 

Third Grade 1000 children 9 years old 

Fourth Grade 1000 children 10 years old 

Fifth Grade 1000 children n years old 

Sixth Grade 1000 children 12 years old 

Seventh Grade 1000 children 13 years old 

Eighth Grade 1000 children 14 years old 

If expressed in graphic form this grade distribution would, 
of course, show no falling off at all, as is illustrated in Diagram VI. 

In the United States the annual death rate for the ages five 
to fifteen is 3.7 per 1000. It is not, of course, exactly 3.7 for each 

22 



SOME FACTORS AFFECTING GRADE DISTRIBUTION 
GRADE 



1300 
1200 
1100 
1000 
900 
fton 


12345678 


















































































700 
600 
500 
400 
300 
200 
100 



































































































































Diagram VI. Grade distribution under ideal conditions. 

of the ages, but for the sake of simplicity and because of its rela- 
tive insignificance we may apply it equally to note its effect. 

TABLE 7. GRADE DISTRIBUTION SHOWING DECREASE THROUGH 

DEATH. 



Grade 

First Grade 
Second Grade 
Third Grade 
Fourth Grade 
Fifth Grade 
Sixth Grade 
Seventh Grade 
Eighth Grade 



Pupils 
1000 children 7 years old 

996.3 children 8 years old 

992.4 children 9 years old 

988.6 children 10 years old 
984.9 children n years old 
981.1 children 12 years old 
977.4 children 13 years old 

973.7 children 14 years old 



It will thus be seen that the element of death alone will ac- 
count for a decrease of some 26 to 27 in the progress of each 1000, 
children from the first grade to the eighth. How very slight a 
falling off is accounted for by the decrease through death is more 
easily seen when illustrated as in Diagram VII. 

Death is a far smaller element in making up the factor of 
population than is the increase of population. How great a factor 
the two together constitute we may perhaps roughly measure by 

2 3 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



applying to the problem the figures given for each age group from 
seven to fourteen years inclusive, in the aggregate population of 
the United States according to the census of 1900. 

At that time there were in the United States 1,787,019 
children seven years old. Those fourteen years old numbered 
1,556, 1 12. There are plainly two reasons why the children four- 
teen years old are less numerous than those seven years old: First, 
there were fewer children born fourteen years ago than seven years 



GRADE 



1300 
1200 
1100 
1000 
900 
800 
700 
600 
500 
400 
300 
200 
100 


1 2345678 


































mm 


avn 


****m 


***** 


maaaam 


mmmaof 


***** 


__. 

mama 



















































































































































Diagram VII. Decrease through death. 

ago; second, of the children born fourteen years ago a larger propor- 
tion have died than of those born seven years ago. In less 
degree this is true of the eight year old children compared with the 
seven-year-olds. So those of nine will be slightly less numerous 
than those of eight. The number of children at each age from 
seven to fourteen will gradually diminish. By dividing the number 
of fourteen year old children by that of those seven years old, we 
can readily find how many fourteen-year-olds there are likely to 
be when there are, say, 1000 seven-year-olds. By means of such 

24 



SOME FACTORS AFFECTING GRADE DISTRIBUTION 



relative figures we may show how many children there are in the 
United States as a whole at the ages of eight, nine, and so on, 
for each 1000 at the age of seven. Stating this in the form of 
a supposititious grade distribution, we have the following: 

TABLE 8. GRADE DISTRIBUTION AS INFLUENCED BY TWO ELE- 
MENTS, DEATH AND INCREASE OF POPULATION. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 1000 children 7 years old 

Second Grade 985 children 8 years old 

Third Grade 964 children 9 years old 

Fourth Grade 938 children 10 years old 

Fifth Grade 920 children n years old 

Sixth Grade 904 children 12 years old 

Seventh Grade 889 children 13 years old 

Eighth Grade 871 children 14 years old 

The foregoing shows most conveniently the tapering off in 
numbers of the population as the age increases. This becomes very 
evident when we interpret the facts of the table in a diagram. 

GRADE 



1300 

1200 

1100 

1000 

900 

800 

700 

600 

500 

400 

300 

200 

100 



Diagram VIII. Decrease through death and the population factor. 

As before explained, this tapering off resulting in an apparent 
diminution in the upper ages is in reality caused by successive 

25 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

increases in the lower ages. Were we to state it in other terms to 
make this clear we might take the age of fourteen as the basis for 
computing our relative figures. In that case, instead of saying 
that for each 1000 children seven years old there are 871 at the 
age of fourteen, we should say that for each 1000 at the age of 
fourteen we may expect to find 1148 seven years old. This is 
simply the same proposition stated in different terms. 

It is not claimed, of course, that the figures in the table con- 
stitute an absolute measure applicable to any school system. 
Their value lies rather in giving a typical measure of the attenua- 
tion to be allowed for from influences of population under normal 
circumstances. The age distribution of the population is not, of 
course, uniform throughout the country. In some localities, in 
fact, very considerable variations from the standard are found. 
Neither do school grades correspond exactly with ages. Neverthe- 
less, if children enter at the age of seven they will be at least 
fourteen upon reaching the eighth grade, and we shall not be far 
out of the way if we state that under perfect school conditions of 
progress and retention of pupils we could in no case expect to find 
more than 87 per cent as many children in the eighth grade as in 
the first grade. This is a constant and very considerable factor 
in bringing about disparity in the number of children in the several 
grades, and it is one which has been entirely overlooked in much 
of the current discussion of the problem. 

THE FACTOR OF RETARDATION 

We have seen that all pupils do not advance regularly from 
grade to grade. It is a fact of which all educators are keenly 
aware. But just how many pupils fail to advance and at what 
points in the school course, and, most important of all, for what 
causes, are questions as yet relatively unanswered. There is 
not even any general agreement as to how "percentage of pro- 
motions" shall be computed, and indeed practice is very diverse 
in the matter. Some information on the subject may be gleaned 
from a study of school reports. The most recent reports from five 
large cities give the following statement: 



26 



SOME FACTORS AFFECTING GRADE DISTRIBUTION 

TABLE 9. PER CENT OF PROMOTIONS IN FIVE CITIES. 

Per cent of 
City Promotions 

New York 81 

Chicago 84 

Cincinnati 83 

Columbus 78 

Kansas City, Mo 71 

From these figures it appears that we shall not greatly err 
if we assume that about 80 per cent of the pupils in a system 
may reasonably be expected to advance at each regular time of 
promotion, and that 20 per cent will fail to be so advanced. If 
each year 20 per cent fail, the first grade will contain in our sup- 
posititious case the 1000 pupils just entered, as well as some who 
entered the year before, some who entered two years before, and a 
few who entered three years before, or even earlier. The actual 
number in the first grade will be 1250 and not 1000. Now, if the 
same rules hold for the other grades, and no pupils drop out, that 
is, if all stay to complete the course, no matter how long it takes, 
each grade will contain the same number as the first; namely, 1250. 
In other words, if we have four-fifths of the normal progress, or 
that planned by the course of study, we shall have five-fourths of 
the normal number of pupils in each grade. If the factor of popu- 
lation were inoperative, we should Jaave under these conditions the 
following grade distribution : 



uld ha 
>4Pki 



TABLE 10. GRADE DISTRIBUTIOl^HEN 80 PER CENT OF THE PUPILS 
ARE PROMOTED, ALL FINISH, AND THE POPULATION FACTOR DOES 
NOT ENTER. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 
Second Grade 
Third Grade 
Fourth Grade 
Fifth Grade 
Sixth Grade 
Seventh Grade 
Eighth Grade 




But we know that these conditions are never found. Pupils 
who find themselves in some grade lower than the eighth at the 

2 7 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

age of fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen do not remain to complete the 
course. They drop out. This brings us to the third factor, that 
of elimination. 

THE FACTOR OF ELIMINATION 

A study of the age distribution of pupils in the schools of 
fifty-eight cities in the United States shows, after allowing for in- 
accuracies of age returns, which are proverbial, that in the main 
the variations in the age groups of school children in the earlier 
years are slight. There is a relatively marked falling off at the age 
of thirteen, followed by a very marked decline in numbers at the 
ages of fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. That is to say, that compara- 
tively few pupils will remain in school after the age of fourteen, 
many drop out at that age, and some anticipate it and leave at the 
age of thirteen. The data from these cities give us very nearly 
the following table when the figures are reduced to relative terms: 

TABLE II. DECLINE IN ATTENDANCE, AGES TEN TO SIXTEEN, IN 

58 CITIES. RELATIVE FIGURES. 

Age Pupils 

Ten years 104 

Eleven years 103 

Twelve years 100 

Thirteen years 9<5 

Fourteen years 60 

Fifteen years 30 

Sixteen years 15 

From these figures we may assume as a reasonable approxi- 
mation, that in the elementary schools 10 per cent of the children 
will have left at thirteen years of age, that 40 per cent will have 
left at fourteen, half of the remainder at fifteen, and again half of 
these at the age of sixteen. 

Now, if pupils in school advanced with substantial regularity, 
so as to reach the upper grades by the time they attained the age 
of thirteen or fourteen, it is evident that elimination would not be 
a very powerful factor in bringing about grade disparity, and would 
be operative only in the highest grades. But we know that pupils 
of these ages are found in the intermediate grades in no incon- 
siderable numbers. This brings into operation the factors of 
retardation and elimination in combination. 

28 



SOME FACTORS AFFECTING GRADE DISTRIBUTION 

RETARDATION AND ELIMINATION BOTH OPERATIVE 
To show what the result is we may have recourse again to a 
supposititious case, but one this time which more nearly approaches 
conditions as found in our schools than do those cited heretofore. 
Suppose we have a school system where the population is sta- 
tionary, where 1000 new pupils enter the schools at the age of 
seven each year, where there is a uniform rate of promotion of 
80 per cent, and where 10 per cent of the pupils leave at the age of 
thirteen, 40 per cent by the time they are fourteen, 50 per cent 
of the remainder at fifteen years, and half of those left drop out 
at sixteen years of age. Under these conditions we shall have 
the age and grade distribution as shown in Table 12. 

In this table we have for the first time a grade distribution 
closely approximating those commonly found in the school systems 
of our cities. The familiar characteristics are present; the falling 
off in size of the successive grades, the presence of substantially 
equal age groups until we reach the age of thirteen, when there is a 
slight falling off followed by a much sharper drop, and the small 
size of the eighth grade as compared with the first. We have well 
illustrated, too, the fact that while retardation results in holding 
in the first and each of the other primary grades many more chil- 
dren than the number entering school each year, and in the upper 
grades the combination of retardation and elimination accounts 
for the depletion which is so noticeable, yet the result is not to 
bring into our schools a greater number of children than those who 
would be present if all progressed normally. This result is only 
reached when promotion percentages are very low and retardation 
is very serious in the lower grades. To state this in terms of 
school administration: doing away with retardation would not 
do away with the problem of " part time," nor would it have much 
effect in reducing the number of school sittings or school rooms 
required, nor would it result in great financial economy. The 
economies effected would be educational rather than material. 
They would consist in giving a more extended education to a 
larger proportion of the children entering school. 

The graphic representations giving the falling off in successive 
grades due to the influences of death and the population factor 
have shown that the tapering off from these causes is really very 

29 



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3 



SOME FACTORS AFFECTING GRADE DISTRIBUTION 



slight. In decided contrast is the effect due to the combined 
influences of retardation and elimination. When these factors 
are introduced the lower grades become greatly swollen, while 
the upper ones are decidedly depleted. 

SUMMARY 

Summarizing our three modifying factors of population, 
retardation, and elimination, we may compare in one table the 
effect which each one of these separately, and finally the three 
working together, will have on the grade distribution of a com- 
munity when 1000 children enter the first grade. 

TABLE 13. GRADE DISTRIBUTION SHOWING MODIFICATION BY 
DIFFERENT FACTORS. 



Grade 


No Modi- 
fying 
Factors 


Death 
only 


Death 
and In- 
crease of 
Population 


Retarda- 
tion and 
Elimination 


Population, 
Retardation 
and 
Elimination 


First 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


1250 


1250 


Second 


IOOO 


996 


985 


1247 


1228 


Third 


IOOO 


992 


964 


1238 


"93 


Fourth 


IOOO 


988 


938 


1219 


H43 


Fifth 


IOOO 


984 


920 


1127 


1036 


Sixth 


IOOO 


981 


904 


95 


818 


Seventh . 


IOOO 


977 


889 


57 


506 


Eighth . 


IOOO 


973 


871 


272 


237 


Total. 


8000 


7891 


747i 


7828 


7411 



The facts of the table showing the final distribution which we 
have as the resultant of the combined modifying influences of the 
three factors are even more impressive when expressed in graphic 
form as in Diagrams IX and X. 

To anyone who has not devoted considerable study to the 
phenomena of grade distribution the results shown in the dia- 
gram may well appear extreme. At first sight the disparity in 
Cumbers between the 1250 children in the first grade and the 237 
in the eighth seems unreasonably large, while on the other hand 
the total of the eight grades 7411 seems too small when we 
remember that the first grade contains 1250. Are similar con- 

3 1 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



GRADE 



1300 

1200 

1100 

1000 

900 

800 

700 

600 

500 

400 

300 

200 

100 





Diagram IX. Grade distribution influenced by retardation and elimination. 
The lower grades are swollen and the upper ones depleted. 

GRADE 



1300 
1200 
1100 
1000 
900 
800 
700 
600 
500 
400 
300 
200 
100 



Diagram X. Grades modified by the factors of population, retardation and 

elimination. 

3 2 



SOME FACTORS AFFECTING GRADE DISTRIBUTION 



ditions really found in our city school systems? We may gain 
light on this point by comparing our supposititious case with the 
grade distributions found in some of our cities, taking in each 
case 1000 pupils in the first grade as a base and using relative 
figures to facilitate comparison.^ 

TABLE 14. GRADE DISTRIBUTION ON BASIS OF IOOO PUPILS IN 
FIRST GRADE IN THREE CITIES. 





Supposititious 








Grade 


Case All 
Three Factors 


Philadelphia 
1908 


Memphis 
(white} 1908 


Passaic 
1908 




Operative 








First . 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


Second . 


982 


897 


621 


788 


Third . 


954 


822 


617 


696 


Fourth . 


914 


696 


529 


499 


Fifth' . 


829 


568 


388 


439 


Sixth 


654 


413 


384 


284 


Seventh . 


404 


271 


a8i' 


276 


Eighth . 


190 


190 


190 


193 


Total . . 


59 2 3 


4857. 


4010 


4175 



We have here the answer to our question. Evidently the 
grade distributions found in our city school systems are not 
radically dissimilar from the distribution resulting from the 
application of our several hypotheses in the supposititious case. 
One characteristic difference, however, is noticeable. Whenever 
we take figures giving the grade distribution of an actual school 
system, we find a greater disparity between the number of children 
in the first and second^rades than we do in our supposititious case. 
In city school systems we invariably find very many more first 
grade than second grade children. In our supposititious case we 
find only a few more. But it must be remembered that the differ- 
ence between the figures in our supposititious case is largely the 
result of the modification resulting from the influence of the popu- 
lation factor, whereas in actual school systems the retardation 
factor is prominent in that the percentage of promotion from the 
first grade to the second is almost invariably lower than it is in 
the case of the higher grades. A larger proportion of children 
3 33 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

enter the first grade late in the year, and so fail of promotion, 
than is the case in the other grades. As the conditions in this 
respect vary greatly in different localities, it is obvious that any 
standard which has for its basis the number of children in the first 
grade will be of little utility as a criterion for judging the number 
we may fairly expect to find in each of the other grades. To have 
recognized in our hypothetical case the unequal distribution of 
retardation by grades it being greater in the lower, and less in 
the upper grades would have introduced complications into our 
calculations which were deemed unnecessary, since our purpose is 
rather to demonstrate the existence of these factors, than to pro- 
pose an exact measurement. 

As a result, then, of our study we may formulate the following 
general rules which will serve as tolerably accurate criteria for 
judging the grade membership in American city school systems 
under substantially normal conditions of population and school 
administration: 

i . During the eight years following their entrance into the 
school system we may count on about 27 in each 1000 of these 
children being removed by death. 

2: Owing to the factor of population, composed of the two 
elements of death and increase of population, we may expect to 
find normally for each 1000 children in the first grade no more than 
871 in the eighth. 

3. A not uncommon measure of advance in our large city 
school systems is to have four-fifths of the pupils promoted at 
each regular time of promotion, and to have one-fifth fail. 

4. It is safe to count on 10 per cent of the children leaving on 
reaching the age of thirteen, 40 per cent by the time they are four- 
teen, 50 per cent of the remainder at fifteen, and again 50 per 
cent of the remainder at the age of sixteen. 

In general it appears, then, that the grade distribution is the 
resultant of such diverse elements that without the most careful 
analysis conclusions as to any of these elements are liable to 
go astray. The reader who is familiar with school reports and 
current educational discussion will not fail to recall instances in 

34 



SOME FACTORS AFFECTING GRADE DISTRIBUTION 

which the existence of one or more of the modifying factors has 
been ignored. In any attempt to analyze grade figures, therefore, 
there must be kept clearly in mind the simple fact that at least 
three factors have an important share in producing the distribu- 
tion of pupils by grades which is commonly observed in our 
elementary schools. 



35 



CHAPTER IV 

EXTENT OF RETARDATION IN DIFFERENT 
SYSTEMS AND SCHOOLS 

EVER since educators first called attention to the phenomena 
of retardation there has been much speculation as to how 
general the condition is and to how serious an extent it 
exists within our school systems. Up to the present time the most 
serious attempt to answer these questions has been that made 
by Dr. Oliver P. Cornman in an article published in the Psycho- 
logical Clinic of February 15, 1908. Dr. Cornman compared 
conditions in Camden, Kansas City, Boston, Philadelphia and New 
York. In the March number of the same magazine for the same 
year his findings were in some measure corrected and largely ex- 
panded by Dr. Roland P. Falkner. Aside from these two articles, 
current educational literature has little or nothing to offer bearing 
on the question of comparative conditions in different localities. 

The method for determining the number of retarded children 
in a given school system which has received most general accep- 
tance on the part of schoolmen, is the method which enumerates 
the children by ages and grades and puts all of the children who 
are older than a determined age in each grade into a group desig- 
nated "Above Normal Age." These children who. are older 
than they should be for the grade they are in are considered 
"retarded." Thus used the ,term designates a condition, and is 
applied with equal propriety to those children who are over 
age on account of slow progress, and those who have progressed 
normally but entered school late. 

The method has come into general acceptance because, 
all things considered, it is the most satisfactory-standard by which 
to measure retardation. Statistics based on the time pupils 
have spent in each grade are exceedingly rare, often unreliable, 
and usually are non-cumulative. That is, they deaf with each 
grade as a separate unit and fail to tell us how much time the 
pupil has gained or lost in the entire course. 



RETARDATION IN DIFFERENT SYSTEMS AND SCHOOLS 



Statistics giving us figures as to grade and age distribution 
on the other hand, are simple, certain, easy to gather, and embody 
valuable information as to many conditions and results of school 
work. Their application to the problem of retardation is so easy 
that the process may be employed by anyone, however unversed 
in statistical procedure. 

For instance, let us consider the conditions existing in the 
schools of Memphis in June, 1908. On that date the children 
in that system were distributed by grades and ages as is shown 
in the following table: 

TABLE 15. GRADE AND AGE DISTRIBUTION IN MEMPHIS, TENN., 
JUNE, 1908, SHOWING NUMBER AND PER CENT OF RE- 
TARDED PUPILS. 



Age 


GRA^E 
12345 


t 


7 S 


Total 


6 


782 ii 








793 


7 


*99 *77 5 








932 


S 


3*1 403 131 5 








907 


9 


i2 349 333 104 


8 






914 


It 


*4 I9 1 335 264 


67 


6 


i 


908 


11 


21 81 230 302 


219 


83 


9 


^ 945 


12 


12 45 109 229 


201 


203 


77 6 


882 


13 


i 13 43 126 


182 


245 


178 63 


851 


14 


4 6 25 44 


85 


158 


J 75 1 130 


627 


15 


I 2 6 10 


26 


69 


92 no 


316 


If 


1 

i 3 


8 


2 5 


43 73 


153 


17 


I 2 


i 


i 


3 10 


18 


It 




i 




i 


2 


Total 


2*53 T2 7* I2 ^ 1*89 


79* 


79 


579 3f2 


8248 


Above ] 












Normal \ 


-572 687 749 716 


54 


498 


314 193 


4233 


Age j 












Per cent ] 












Normal '7.8 53-7 59- 65.7 


63-1 


63.0 


54-2 49- 2 


51-3 


Age J 1 











37 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

Now, if children enter the first grade at the age of from 
six to six and a half years and are not retarded during the course, 
their ages in the several grades will be as follows : 

TABLE l6. NORMAL AGES OF CHILDREN IN THE GRADES. 

Grade Age 

First Grade 6 to 8 years 

Second Grade 7 to 9 years 

Third Grade 8 to 10 years 

Fourth Grade 9 to n years 

Fifth Grade 10 to 12 years 

Sixth Grade n to 13 years 

Seventh Grade 12 to 14 years 

Eighth Grade 13 to 15 years 

These ages have been accepted by common consent as the 
" normal ages" for these grades by nearly all the schoolmen who 
have interested themselves in the problem. 

Referring now to Table 15, it will be noticed that there is 
a heavy line passing between the figures showing the number 
of seven year old children in the first grade and the eight year old 
ones. All of the children above this line in the first column are 
of "normal age." The line advances with each grade so that in 
the second grade those more than nine years old are below; in 
the third grade those older than ten; and so on. All of the 
children below the heavy line are "above normal age," or retarded. 

At the extreme bottom of the table are three rows of figures; 
the first showing the total number of children in each grade; 
the second, the number of retarded children; and the third, the 
per cent which these children are of the entire membership. It 
will be noted that in the school system as a whole 5 1 .3 per cent 
of the pupils are in this class. 

In Diagram XI the shaded portion represents the num- 
ber of retarded children in each grade, and the part in outline 
the normal-age children, so that the relative proportions can 
be estimated by the eye. 

It may be remarked incidentally that so far as the volume 
of retardation here described is concerned, Memphis is one of the 
cities which has a percentage rather higher than the average. 

It has been objected by some that the method of computing 
retardation by the age and grade figures is incorrect, and not a 

38 



RETARDATION IN DIFFERENT SYSTEMS AND SCHOOLS 

fair representation of the phenomena with which we are dealing. 
The criticism is so fundamental that it may be considered briefly 
at this point, since if we are wrong in our basis of computation, 
much of the argument in the succeeding chapters must fall to the 
ground. The criticism to which we refer has been voiced by 
Superintendent James M. Greenwood of Kansas City, who, corn- 




Diagram XI. Retarded children in the grades in Memphis. Shaded portion 
represents retarded children. 



menting upon the investigation of Dr. Cornman of Philadelphia, 
says: 

"The enly correct way to estimate retardation, or the slow 
movement of a pupil, is the length of time it takes him to do a 
year's work. It is not a question of age without respect to pro- 
gress, but it is one of time required to do a given amount of work 

39 






LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

within a specified time without regard to age. Suppose two boys 
enter college, one sixteen and the other nineteen years old, 
and each one completes the four years' work on time. Now 
would anyone claim that the older one was retarded? So, if 
a child begins the regular grade work at eight and he does a full 
year's work each year till he complete the elementary course, 
that child is not retarded, and it would be puerile to class him as 
a backward pupil. The only clear cases of retardation are those 
in which pupils are kept longer on a certain unit of work than 
is prescribed in the course of study. Many intelligent, sensible 
parents, especially in the middle and western sections of the 
United States, prefer not to send their children to any kind of a 
school till the age of eight, and where such children do enter 
school they go forward rapidly and easily in their studies, often 
skipping classes."* 

If the point herein set forth is well taken, the standard of 
retardation should be progress, not age. These considerations 
put the advocates of the age standard on the defensive, and it is 
well to examine whether the arguments are valid. The conten- 
tion is that the age standard is wrong in principle, and the 
implication, that the age standard exaggerates the phenomenon 
with which we are dealing. 

Whether or not the age standard be incorrect in principle 
can only be decided by consideration of the significance of re- 
tardation itself. What is the essential phenomenon with which 
we are dealing? Is it the process by which children fall behind 
in their studies, or is it the fact that they have done so? Does 
it make any difference whether retarded children in the grades 
are there because they entered school late, or because having 
entered early they have failed to be promoted? 

If we look at the matter from the standpoint of the school, 
the vital thing is the fact that classes are now too often composed 
of heterogeneous elements. The child of nine acts and thinks 
differently from the child of seven. Put the two in the same 
class and the work of the teacher is increased, the amount of 
attention which can be given to each diminished, and the effect 
of the teaching is therefore lessened. No one can doubt that 

* Educational Review, Sept., 1908. p. 147. 
4 



RETARDATION IN DIFFERENT SYSTEMS AND SCHOOLS 

it would be a very great advantage if children could be so classified 
that the classes would be more homogeneous with respect to age. 
They would respond more rapidly to the instruction of the teacher; 
they would act more as a unit and less as a collection of individuals. 

From the standpoint of the child, the essential evil of re- / 
tardation is that it lessens the prospect of securing a reasonably ^ 
complete elementary education. We have already seen that 
many children leave school at the age of fourteen, and therefore 
for the majority of children the possibilities of acquiring an 
V elementary education are measured in years by the number which 
can be spent in school before that age is reached. It requires 
no very profound acquaintance with mathematics to observe 
that a child who enters school at eight years of age as suggested 
by Superintendent Greenwood can get only six years of elemen- 
tary schooling before he reaches fourteen. Obviously, he cannot by 
normal progress complete the work of the elementary school course. 

Then the question arises whether the six years of schooling 
will be equivalent to six grades of school work. Unless the child 
is unusually gifted the prospects are not good for his securing 
that amount. The chances are at least equal that he will get 
less. Is there any chance that he will get more? Mr. Greenwood 
seems to think that the child who enters late will progress rapidly 
through the grades, but experience does not show that our school 
systems, as a rule, make any provision whatsoever for the rapid 
progress of pupils. Once in a while a child may skip a grade, 
but the cases in which this occurs are wofully rare. This will be 
examined more in detail in a later chapter. It is enough for our 
present purpose to recall that the graduating class is small in 
comparison with the entering class for all the elementary schools. 

Moreover, progress itself may mean two things, it may be 
a designation of the ground covered, or it may again represent 
the point reached through the process. If we regard it in the 
latter light there is certainly no impropriety in considering that a 
child who enters late upon his school work has neglected his 
opportunities. By the late start he is far behind his fellows in 
the race. 

The age standard is, therefore, justified from this point of 
view. It has a further advantage in that it is easily applied. 

4' 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

When we consider that no school system has yet given us a com- 
plete record of the number of years required by each pupil to 
reach his present grade, and that to establish such a record at 
the present time would mean to wait at least eight years before we 
could properly discuss the matter for the elementary schools, there 
is an additional reason for evolving a method which can be used 
at any time and requires no more effort than an exact determina- 
tion of the present ages of pupils in the grades they now occupy. 

The implication, moreover, that such a progress standard 
as suggested by Mr. Greenwood would show that there are fewer 
retarded pupils than would the age standard, does not correspond 
to such facts as we now know. In Boston for instance, in 1897, 
46 per cent of the pupils took more than the regular time to 
finish the three primary grades, yet at the same time the percen- 
tage of retardation in the fourth grade was only 29.3 per cent. 
In like manner we note that in 1894 in that city 34.5 per cent 
took more than the regular time to finish the last six or grammar 
grades, not counting, of course, any slow progress which the 
same pupils may have previously made in the primary grades. 
Yet the percentage of age retardation in 1896 was only 20 per 
cent for the ninth grade. 

Other figures, so far as they are available, confirm this 
conviction, and the reason therefor is not very difficult to per- 
ceive. In the application of the age standard there is a certain 
generosity in the accepted measure. If we do not consider a 
child in the first grade as above normal until after the age of 
eight, we must recognize that for those who enter the first grade 
early say exactly at six we have already a margin which 
permits a child to spend two years in the first grade without 
coming in the retarded class. That this margin is justified 
appears from the record of frequent failure and frequent absence 
in the first primary grade. The progress standard proposed by 
Mr. Greenwood admits of no such margin, and consequently, 
if it were rigorously applied, the recorded failures among those 
who enter early would add much more to the percentage of retar- 
dation than the lack of failure on the part of those who enter 
school late; for, after all, those who enter school late are the 
exception rather than the rule. We may rest assured that the 

42 



RETARDATION IN DIFFERENT SYSTEMS AND SCHOOLS 



method adopted in this discussion is one which minimizes rather 
than exaggerates the conditions of which we treat. 

Now, it is perfectly evident that the results secured in com- 
puting retardation by the age and grade method may vary con- 
siderably according to the details of the method employed in 
gathering the statistics. In the same city results computed 
in September might differ materially from those gathered in the 
following June, for if promotions were made on the yearly basis 
the children would still be in the same grades, but they would 
average nearly a year older. The September statistics would 
show a lower percentage of retarded pupils than would the June 
ones. Moreover, figures gathered on the basis of total enrollment 
will differ from those gathered at a given date in the school year. 
For these reasons results from different cities are only comparable 
when gathered on the same basis. 

Age and grade statistics have been secured from thirty-one 
cities and the results are shown in the following table in which 
the cities are grouped according to the basis on which the data 
were gathered, thus enabling us to compare conditions in the 
different localities. 

TABLE 17. NUMBER AND PER CENT OF RETARDED PUPILS. EN- 
ROLLMENT IN SEPTEMBER. SIX CITIES. 



City 


Date 


Pupils 
Enrolled 


Number 
Retarded 


Per cent Re- 
tarded 


Medford, Mass. 


1907-8 


357 2 


269 


7-5 


Waltham, Mass. 


1908 


2 579 


274 


10.6 


Meriden, Conn. 


1907 


4241 


55 1 


13.0 


Quincy, Mass. . 


1908 


5445 


976 


17.9 


Springfield, Mass. . 


1907-8 


10934 


2342 


23-3 


Woonsocket, R. I. . 


1907 


3160 


II2I 


35-4 



TABLE l8. NUMBER AND PER CENT OF RETARDED PUPILS. EN- 
ROLLMENT IN JUNE. FIVE CITIES. 



City 


Date 


Pupils 
Enrolled 


Number 
Retarded 


Per cent Re- 
tarded 


York, Pa. 
Memphis, 
Cincinnati 
Erie, Pa. 
Memphis, 


Tenn. 
, O. . 

Tenn. 


(white) 
(colored) 


1908 
1908 
1907 
1901 
1908 


6085 
8248 
38280 
5482 
4887 


2335 
4233 

22505 

3 2 97 
3704 


38.3 
Si-3 

58.7 
60. i 

75-8 



43 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



TABLE 19. NUMBER AND PER CENT OF RETARDED PUPILS. 
ROLLMENT IN JUNE AFTER PROMOTION. TWO CITIES. 



EN- 



City 


Date 


Pupils 
Enrolled 


Number 
Retarded 


Per cent Re- 
tarded 


New York City 
Philadelphia, Pa. . 


1908 
1908 


559 120 
148814 


161373 
5479 8 


30.0 
36.8 



TABLE 2O. NUMBER AND PER CENT OF RETARDED PUPILS. 
TOTAL ENROLLMENT. EIGHT CITIES. 



City 


Date 


Pupils 
Enrolled 


Number 
Retarded 


Per cent Re- 
tarded 


Ft. Wayne, Ind. 


1906-7 


5558 


1299 


2 3-3 


Portland, Ore. . 


1907 


15637 4804 


30-7 


Utica, N. Y. . 


1906-7 


939 


2948 


32.6 


Troy, N. Y. . 


1903-4 


6l 57 


2198 


35-6 


Columbus, O. . 


1906-7 


19*95 


7175 


37-3 


Los Angeles, Cal. . 


1903-4 


29018 


11119 


38.3 


Camden, N. J. 


1905-6 


13127 


6086 


46.3 


Kansas City, Mo. . 


1906-7 


28509 


13848 


48.5 



TABLE 21. NUMBER AND PER CENT OF RETARDED PUPILS. EN- 
ROLLMENT AT A GIVEN DATE. TWELVE CITIES. 



City 


Date 


Pupils 
Enrolled 


Number 
Retarded 


Per cent Re- 
tarded 


Aurora, 111. . 


Oct., 1907 


1872 


343 


18.3 


Boston, Mass. 


Jan. 31, 1907 


82452 


'5315 


18.5 


Maiden, Mass. 


Dec. 3, 1908 


5988 


1109 


18.5 


Decatur, 111. 


1908 


397 


1188 


29.9 


Newark, O. . 


Dec. 6, 1908 


3 2 93 


985 


29.9 


Reading, Pa. 


Mar. i, 1907 


10908 


3455 


31.6 


Trenton, N. J. . 


Nov., 1903 


8834 


2721 


32.0 


Wilmington, Del. (white) 


1905-6 


7594 


2826 


37-2 


Kingston, N. Y. . 


1908 


3209 


I2 33 


38-4 


Baltimore, Md. . 


Dec. 31, 1905 


66142 


3 6 55 


46.3 


St. Louis, Mo. 


Dec. i, 1901 


66508 


31017 


46.6 


Wilmington (colored) 


1905-6 


io3S 


651 


62.8 



While, as has been explained, the retardation figures from 
the different cities are only comparable when based on figures 

44 



RETARDATION IN DIFFERENT SYSTEMS AND SCHOOLS 

gathered by the same method, it is nevertheless worth while 
to list all of the cities in the order of the percentage of retardation 
indicated. This table is useful, not for purposes of comparison 
of conditions in the cities, but rather to show the great range 
in the percentages of retardation found. 

TABLE 22. PER CENT OF RETARDED PUPILS. THIRTY-ONE CITIES. 

Per cent 

City Retarded 

i. Medford, Mass. . . 7.5 



2. Waltham, Mass. 

3. Meriden, Conn. 

4. Quincy, Mass. 

5. Aurora, 111. 



10.6 
13.0 
17.9 

18-3 



6. Boston, Mass 18. 5 

7. Maiden, Mass 18.5 

8. Fort Wayne, Ind 23.3 

9. Springfield, Mass. 23.3 

.10. Decatur, 111 2 9-9 

ii. Newark, Ohio 2 9-9 

i2._New York, N. Y 30-0 

1 3. "Portland, Ore 30.7 

14. Reading, Pa 31.6 

15. Trenton, N. J 32.0 

16. Utica, N. Y 32.6 

17. Woonsocket, R. 1 35-4 

18. Troy, N. Y 35.6 

19. Philadelphia, Pa 36.8 

20. Wilmington, Del. (white) 37 .2 

21. Columbus, Ohio 37-3 

22. Los Angeles, Cal 38.3 

23. York, Pa 38.3 

24. Kingston, N. Y 38.4 

25. Baltimore, Md 46.3 

26. Camden, N. J 46.3 

27. St. Louis, Mo 46.6 

28. Kansas City, Mo 48.5 

29. Memphis, Tenn. (white) 5J-3 

30. Cincinnati, Ohio ' 5^-7 

31. Erie, Pa 60. i 

32. Wilmington, Del. (colored) 62.8 

33. Memphis, Tenn. (colored) .75.8 

It is noteworthy that the city having the lowest per cent 
of retardation is Medford with 7.5 of her pupils in that class. 
This is on the basis of enrollment in September. The colored 
pupils of Memphis show the highest percentage of retardation 
(75.8) and the figure is based on the enrollment in June. As 
was explained earlier in the chapter, figures taken in September 
will inevitably show a lower percentage of retardation than will 

45 



OF THE 

UNIVERSITY 

Cf 




LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

similar data gathered in June. Therefore, it is nearly certain 
that if the data were gathered in all cases on the same basis 
there would not be so great a discrepancy between the two cities 
at the extremes of the table. On the other hand, it is entirely 
probable that if all the computations were made on the same basis 
Medford would still have the best record, and the colored pupils 
of Memphis the worst. 

The table is instructive in disclosing how important a matter 
retardation is in all the cities from which data are available. On 
the average, approximately- one-third of all of the children in 
our city schools are above the normal age for their grades, they 
are retarded. The table is further instructive in showing what 
a wide variation there is in conditions. In the cities making the 
best showing the number and percentage of retarded pupils are 
almost negligible. In the cities making the poorest showing 
the large majority of all of the children are over age for their 
grades. 

TABLE 23. PER CENT OF PUPILS ABOVE NORMAL AGE BY SCHOOLS. 

NEW YORK INVESTIGATION, 1908. 
School Per cent 

A Boys 27.7 

A Girls 20.4 

B Boys 14.4 

B Girls 17.8 

C 22.9 

D Boys 29.3 



D Girls . 

E . . 

F . . 
G 



32.0 
36.6 
23.1 
24.4 



H 20.9 

I 21.2 

J 18-3 

K Boys 10.9 

K Girls 19.8 

Total 22.9 

That the different units of city school systems are far from 
being homogeneous in regard to the prevalence and seriousness 
of retardation was clearly shown by the study conducted in New 
York City in the spring of 1908 by the Backward Children In- 
vestigation to which reference has been made. In that investiga- 
tion a careful study was made of the school records of 19,328 



RETARDATION IN DIFFERENT SYSTEMS AND SCHOOLS 

children in fifteen schools in Manhattan. Nearly 23 per cent 
(22.9) of these children were above normal age for their grades. 
However, the fifteen schools contributing to make up this total 
were far from exhibiting the same percentages of retardation. 
On the contrary, the group was far from homogeneous in this 
respect. There was found a considerable individuality among 
schools. The percentage of retarded children in each is shown 
in Table 23. 

Percentage of pupils above normal age is not in itself to 
be accepted as a trustworthy criterion of school efficiency. The 
widely varying conditions found in different sections of the city 
preclude the possibility of saying with any degree of certainty 
that because school A shows 30 per cent of retarded pupils as 
compared with 20 per cent for school B, that the former is thereby 
shown to be less efficient than the latter. When, however, 
schools are situated together and draw their pupils from the same 
social "and racial classes, comparison becomes possible. These 
conditions are found in the cases of those schools where the boys 
and girls are taught separately in different buildings and under 
different principals. The schools where these conditions obtain 
and the percentage of retarded children for each are as follows: 

TABLE 24. BOYS' AND GIRLS' SCHOOLS COMPARED. 

Per cent 
Above 
School Normal Age 

A Boys 27.7 

A Girls 20.4 

B Boys 14-4 

B Girls / . . .17.8 

D Boys 29 . 3 

D Girls . 32.0 

K Boys 10.9 

K Girls ip- 8 

These comparisons are significant. It is noteworthy that 
the differences are not due to the sex of the pupils, for the boys 
make the better showing in three of the cases, while the girls do 
better in the other case. The difference then must be in the 
schools themselves. In the last case the comparison is particu- 
larly striking, the girls' school showing almost twice as large 
a percentage of retardation as does the boys' school. Similar 

47 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

comparisons could doubtless be made with great advantage 
between many schools in different cities. 

From the data which have been discussed four conclusions 
of value may be drawn : 

1. Percentages showing the amount of retardation among 
school children vary considerably according to the methods by 
which they are gathered. Therefore, figures from different cities 
are not comparable unless gathered by the same method. 

2. There is a high variability between cities in respect to 
the proportion of over-age children. Among the thirty-one 
cities studied, Medford, Massachusetts, makes the best showing 
with 7.5 per cent of the pupils in the above normal age class. 
The colored pupils of Memphis make the poorest showing with 
75.8 per cent above normal age. In the thirty-one cities taken 
as a whole, 33.7 per cent of the children, or a trifle more than 
one-third, are above normal age for their grades. These figures 
probably represent with fair accuracy average conditions in city 
school systems of this country. 

3. There may be considerable variation between percent- 
ages of retarded children in different schools of the same system. 
In an investigation conducted in New York in fifteen schools, 
in the one making the best showing only 10.9 per cent of the chil- 
dren were retarded; in the one making the poorest showing 
36.6 per cent were retarded. 

4. Striking differences are sometimes found between schools 
situated together and drawing their pupils from the same racial 
and social classes. Under such conditions the per cent of retarded 
children constitutes a trustworthy criterion of one important 
phase of school efficiency. In the investigation in New York, 
in some cases nearly twice as great a proportion of the children 
were retarded as in neighboring schools where external conditions 
were identical. 



48 



CHAPTER V 

MORTALITY AND SURVIVAL IN THE 
GRADES 

A FACTORY is most efficient when it is being worked to its 
full capacity. As rises or falls the relation of finished 
product to raw materials, so rise or fall profits and divi- 
dends. These principles of manufacturing economics are the 
impelling forces that explain the vigilant care with which man- 
agers and owners watch these variable features and the pains- 
taking exactness with which they state them in the annual reports 
of mercantile corporations. 

In vivid contrast to this condition is the lack of definite infor- 
mation available in the field of educational administration with re- 
spect to the degree of efficiency in the use of our educational plants. 

What proportion of the children who enter our schools 
remain to complete the elementary course? Among all the ques- 
tions in the field of school administration this is today one of the 
most important. It is the question of the relation of the finished 
product to the raw material. By common agreement educators, 
law-makers and publicists have very generally come to hold, 
either tacitly or expressedly, that the amount of education 
furnished by our common school course is the minimum which may 
be safely allowed to the future citizens of this democracy. 

If then it be shown that our schools are generally and in 
large measure falling short of supplying this minimum amount 
of education; if it be shown that a large part of the pupils fall 
out before completing the elementary course; this constitutes a 
serious indictment of our public school system. Again, if we 
can establish a method by which we can ascertain the proportion 
of the children continuing until they reach the final grade in dif- 
ferent systems, we shall have secured an important form of the 
type of measure so much needed and so commonly lacking in 
matters educational that is, a standard of comparison. 

If we are to answer the question for a given school system 
4 49 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

"What proportion of the children who enter the first grade 
continue to the eighth?" our first step must obviously be to 
discover how many enter the first grade. 

This is the crux of the whole matter. The seeker after 
truth who is not a close student of educational statistics will at 
once inquire why we should not ascertain from the published 
reports the number of beginners each year, and with this as a 
basis proceed to calculate the percentage of survivors in the final 
grade. Surely so obviously significant a figure as the one giving 
the number of new children entering the school system each year 
must be stated in the printed reports ! 

The answer is that the city superintendents who have 
recognized the importance of this item and state it in their reports 
can be counted on the thumbs of two hands. For all other cases 
we must have recourse to computations. Many attempts at such 
computations have been made; almost without exception they 
have been more or less directly based on the membership of the 
grades. For instance, the enrollment in the grades in Boston 
on January 31, 1906, was as follows: ' 

TABLE 25. ENROLLMENT BY GRADES. BOSTON, JANUARY 31, 1906. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 13,669 

Second Grade 10,276 

Third Grade 9,336 

Fourth Grade 9,402 

Fifth Grade 8,788 

Sixth Grade 7> 8 94 

Seventh Grade 6,691 

Eighth Grade . 5>3 21 

Ninth Grade 4,4o8 

If we reduce these figures to proportional figures on the basis 
of 1000 children in the first grade, we shall have the following: 

TABLE 26. GRADES IN BOSTON. RELATIVE FIGURES. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 1,000 

Second Grade 753 

Third Grade 684 

Fourth Grade 689 

Fifth Grade 644 

Sixth Grade S7 8 

Seventh Grade 49 

Eighth Grade . - 39 

Ninth Grade 3 2 3 

50 



MORTALITY AND SURVIVAL IN THE GRADES 

Here, as in almost all such tables, the characteristic feature is 
that the number of children rapidly falls off with the advancing 
grades. For each 1000 children in the first grade we find only 
323 in the ninth. We know that many children leave school 
before completing the elementary course, and so the obvious 
and not uncommon interpretation of the figures is: For each 
1000 children entering the first grade in Boston only 323 reach 
the ninth grade. But this interpretation, while apparently 
obvious, is entirely erroneous. The reason is, as has been pre- 
viously pointed out, that the number of children in the first grade 
is never the number of beginners. A first grade is made up of 
some children who first entered school this year, plus some who 
entered a year ago, plus some who entered two years ago, plus 
some who entered even earlier. A similar state of affairs is found 
in the second and third grades. The number beginning school, 
then, is not the number in the first grade, but always a number 
somewhat smaller. 

How, then shall we ascertain the number of beginners? It 
is not a matter of record in the printed reports of the schools; 
nor can we, for reasons already indicated, infer it from the num- 
ber of pupils in the grades. An extended study has led me to the 
belief that we must seek an answer in the figures which record 
the ages of the pupils in our schools. For instance, the pupils 
enrolled in all the day schools of Medford, Massachusetts, on 
September 30, 1907, were grouped by ages as follows: 

TABLE 27. AGE DISTRIBUTION IN MEDFORD, MASS., SEPTEMBER 30, 

1907. 

Age Pupils 

Four years 146 

Five years 330 

Six years 35^, 

Seven years 37 2 ~* 

Eight years 374 

Nine years 380 

Ten years 4*7 

Eleven years . . . . 377 

Twelve years . . ...... 385^ 

Thirteen years . 359 

Fourteen years . . . 275 

Fifteen years . . . 188 

Sixteen years . . 15 T 

Seventeen years 7 2 

Eighteen years 27 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

It needs but a glance at this table to see that the numbers 
credited to the ages seven to thirteen inclusive are very similar in 
size. The average of these numbers is 380, and the largest varia- 
tion is 37 at the age of ten. From the age of seven years, when 
children generally enter school, up to the age of thirteen years, 
before which they do not leave, each age or each generation, to 
use the statistical designation of the persons born in a given year- 
is substantially equal. However much the ages of the entering 
pupils may vary and we know they vary within a normal range 
only it is clear that the number who enter each year cannot on 
the average exceed the number who become of school age each 
year, and must in practice very closely approximate it. In other 
words, the number of children beginning school each year is approxi- 
mately equal to tbe average of the generations of the ages seven to 
twelve in the school membership of the system. It is not necessary 
to predicate for the essential truth of this conclusion that all the 
children enter the public schools. Whether it be all the city's 
population or only a large fraction of it which enters the public 
schools, it is still true for this body of pupils that the average of the 
groups at the ages seven to twelve among them is the best test 
of the number who enter the schools annually.* 

For the general rule we have taken, as in the illustration 
for Medford, seven years as the lower age limit. Some chil- 
dren may enter at eight or even later, but the number is so small 
that it may be disregarded. It is substantially true everywhere 
that all the children are in school by the age of seven. 

As the upper limit we have taken the age of twelve years 

* In our theoretical discussion of factors affecting grade distribution we called 
attention to the fact that the generations seven to twelve were of different size. 
In the present discussion substantial equality has been predicated for purely practi- 
cal reasons. Ages are not reported either in the census or in the schools with 
absolute exactness, and hence the measurement of small variations becomes im- 
practicable. In the second place, there is no one age distribution which is typical 
of all cities. The rule of equality is as fair to all as would be any other. Again, 
if our knowledge of age conditions in the several cities were exact enough for us to 
compute for each the relation in numbers between the seven-year-olds and the 
twelve-year-olds, the difference in the case of the seven-year-olds would be slight. 
We should expect the average to equal the number at the age of nine and the varia- 
tions on either side of it would be only such as, at a maximum, three years could 
produce. It is doubtful whether in any case it would exceed 5 or 6 per cent, 
a variation which appears negligible in calculation which is of necessity merely 
approximate. 



MORTALITY AND SURVIVAL IN THE GRADES 

rather than thirteen years as in the Medford illustration. Else- 
where there is so frequently a considerable difference between 
the ages twelve and thirteen as to suggest that quite a number 
leave school at the latter age, and to make it unsafe to include 
thirteen years in the calculation. There is no such falling off 
at the age of twelve. Moreover, the disappearance of thirteen- 
year-old children in the elementary schools may be due in some 
measure to "elimination upwards" into the high school, a 
consideration of importance in those cities where we have age 
figures for elementary schools only. 

Earlier in this chapter it was stated that diligent study of 
school reports had brought to light only two cities in which the 
number of new pupils entering is stated. These two cities are 
Somerville, Massachusetts, and Reading, Pennsylvania. They 
offer us an opportunity to check the method with the known 
facts in the case. 

The report for Somerville for 1907 gives the membership 
of the grades in December as follows : 

TABLE 28. GRADES IN SOMERVILLE, MASS., DECEMBER, 1907. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 1532 

Second Grade 1384 

Third Grade 1375 

Fourth Grade 1337 

Fifth Grade 1339 

Sixth Grade 1201 

Seventh Grade 1022^ 

Eighth Grade 831 

Ninth Grade .. . 789 

The number of beginners is stated as 1210. Obviously 
this number could not be calculated from an inspection of the 
grade memberships. It is far less than the number in the first 
grade and less than the number in any grade up to the sixth. 
The distribution by ages is not given in the Somerville report, 
so we cannot proceed further. We are more fortunate in the case 
of Reading. 

In that city, in March, 1907, grades were as follows: 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

TABLE 29. GRADES IN READING, PA., MARCH, 1907. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 1814 

Second Grade 1663 

Third Grade 1841 

Fourth Grade 1807 

Fifth Grade 1636 

Sixth Grade 979 

Seventh Grade 677 

Eighth Grade 491 

The number of beginners is stated as 1434. Here again the 
number of entering pupils is far less than the first grade, and 
smaller than any grade up to the sixth. The average of the age 
groups from seven to twelve is 1354, or 80 less than the number 
stated as entering that year. That it should be less is not a matter 
of surprise, for each succeeding age group will normally be a little 
smaller than the preceding, and as the average age of an entering 
class will usually not be over seven years, it is natural that the 
average of the seven to twelve year group at a given time should 
be slightly smaller than the number of beginners in the same 
year. 

On the other hand, our object is to secure a measure of the 
number of entering pupils with which to compare our present 
eighth grade pupils. The present eighth grade is largely made 
up of children who entered school eight years ago. The number 
of beginners then is in most cases smaller than the number of 
beginners now, on account of the increase in population. There- 
fore, the number we require is one somewhat smaller than the 
present number of beginners. Our average of the seven to twelve 
year groups is such a number. 

It is not claimed for the proposed standard that it will give 
an accurate measure of the number of beginners. What is claimed 
for it is that it will never give a result far from the truth; that the 
measure can be applied and understood by anyone; and that it 
offers a safe basis for comparisons. 

The next point to be considered is the results obtained by 
applying the new standard to the available age and grade figures. 
The results are as follows: 



54 



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57 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

In the preceding table it will be noted that six of the cities 
are marked with a star (*). This indicates in each case that 
the average of the age groups seven to twelve was found by the 
use of relative figures. This has been necessary because age 
statistics and figures showing the membership in the several 
grades are taken in these cities on a separate basis and it has been 
necessary to equalize them. In all the other cases the original 
data are used. In the column headed "Basis" will be found in 
some cases the letters E. G. D., in others T. E., and in some others 
A. E. The first set of initials indicates enrollment at a given date; 
the second, total enrollment; and third, average enrollment. 

The cities are ranked in the table according to the per cent 
of the beginning pupils found in the final elementary grade. 
If the figures for any given city are studied it will be noted that 
the membership in any one of the lower grades is considerably 
more than 100 per cent of the annual number of beginners. This, 
as we have seen, is because the lower grades are in large measure 
made up of children who do not advance as they should. The 
stream of children progressing through the grades is dammed 
so that these grades are abnormally swollen. The upper grades, 
we find, have in them less than 100 per cent of the annual number 
of beginners, chiefly because many children are retarded in the 
lower grades. At the end of the compulsory age period they 
find themselves still far from graduation. They are humiliated 
and discouraged by their lack of success and find the work of the 
grades they are in most distasteful. As the law no longer com- 
pels attendance they drop out. These two forces, the slow prog- 
ress of the children in the lower grades and the dropping out 
of over-age pupils in the upper ones, account for the figures show- 
ing that, as a rule, each lower grade holds far more than 100 per 
cent of the annual number of beginners, and each upper grade, 
far less than 100 per cent. 

The median figures at the foot of the table show the general 
tendency of American city school systems. The membership 
of the first grade is 1 73 per cent of the annual number of beginners. 
In other words, in the typical first grade, for every fpur beginners 
there are three other children who are repeating the work of the 
grade. The second, third, fourth and fifth grades all contain 

58 



MORTALITY AND SURVIVAL IN THE GRADES 

considerable proportions of repeaters. The sixth is the first 
grade showing any dropping out of pupils. By this grade 10 
per cent have left. The seventh grade shows such a decided 
falling off that only 71 per cent are left. By the time the eighth 
grade is reached practically one-half of the pupils have dropped 
out. Cities having nine grades make a somewhat better showing. 

In studying these figures it must be remembered that they 
do not show with absolute accuracy the percentage of entering 
pupils who remain to any given grade. Even if the membership 
of a grade is greater than the annual number of beginners, this 
does not prove that a few may not have already dropped out. 
A few a very few may have done so. In the same way it is 
possible that a few pupils are repeating in the upper grades where 
the membership is smaller than the number of beginners. 

It is certain, however, that these exceptions are few in 
number and unimportant in their influence on the results. The 
figures in the table may be trusted as disclosing existing conditions 
with close approximation to the truth. In general terms it is 
true that no pupils drop out of school in the grades showing more 
than 100 per cent of the number of beginners. This is proved 
by the fact that in those cities where we have statistics showing 
the number of repeaters in each grade, we find that there are 
very few in the upper grades and practically none in the high 
schools. The fact of the matter is that a child who has passed 
the upper limit of the compulsory age period and fails does not 
remain to repeat the work of the grade, but simply drops out. 
In the grades where the membership is less than 100 per cent 
of the number of beginners the per cent given is approximately 
the per cent of entering pupils who reach that point. 

The general tendency of city school systems is to keep 
all of the children to the fifth grade, to drop half of them by the 
time the eighth grade is reached and to carry one in ten to the 
fourth year of the high school. Diagram XII shows graphically 
this general tendency. 

One fact disclosed by this diagram, which will come as a 
surprise to many, is that the drop between the final grammar 
grade and the first year of the high school is less than is that 

59 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



between the two last years of the grammar course or the first 
two of the high school course. 

There is a surprising variability among cities both in the 
amount of elimination and in the degree to which the lower 
grades are over-crowded. Of every ten children who start in the 
schools of Quincy, Massachusetts, as many as eight reach the 
eighth grade while two drop out. Of every ten who start in 



GRADES 



HIGH SCHOOL 




40 



30 



20 



10 



Last 

7 Gram- I II HI IV 
mar 



Diagram XII. Showing general tendency of elimination in city school systems. 

Camden, New Jersey, eight drop out before completing the 
elementary grades. 

In Medford, Massachusetts, there is so little retardation in 
the lower grades that we find in the first grade only 1 22 per cent 
of the annual number of beginners. In Camden the retardation 
is so great that the first grade contains nearly two and a half 
times as many children as the annual number of entering children. 

60 



MORTALITY AND SURVIVAL IN THE GRADES 

CAMDEN 



1 



122 109 104 117 114 



8 



248 155 147 131 88 56 32 17 

MEDFORD 

1 





z 


3 , 




D 


O 


7 






















































93 86 



Diagram XIII. Retardation and elimination. Conditions compared in Camden 

and Medford. 

61 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

The contrast between conditions in these two cities is shown 
in Diagram XIII, in which the upright columns are pro- 
portionate to the membership of the grades as compared with 
the number of beginners. In each case the dotted line shows 
how high the columns would be if there were no retarded pupils 
repeating the work of the grades, and if no pupils dropped out. 

In Camden the number of pupils in the lower grades is seen 
to be abnormally swollen, and the number of survivors in the 
eighth grade is painfully small. In Medford the number of 
repeaters is very small and the proportion of pupils reaching the 
eighth is very large. This great variability, so well illustrated 
in the cases of these two cities, is one of the most hopeful features 
of the whole problem of retardation and elimination, for what 
has been attained by some cities cannot be considered entirely 
out of reach of others. 



TABLE 31. SHOWING GRADES IN WHICH CHILDREN BEGIN TO 
LEAVE SCHOOL IN LARGE NUMBERS IN DIFFERENT CITIES. 

Fifth Grade Sixth Grade Seventh Grade 

Baltimore Chicago Boston 

Camden Cincinnati Decatur 

Erie Cleveland Denver 

Memphis Columbus Fort Wayne 

Newark, N. J. Dayton Grand Rapids 

New Orleans Hoboken Kingston 

Passaic Jersey City Los Angeles 

Trenton Kansas City . Maiden 

Wilmington Louisville Medford 

Newark, O. Meriden 

New Brunswick Minneapolis 

Newport New Haven 

New York Newton 

Paterson Omaha 

Philadelphia^ Portland, Me. 

Reading Portland, Ore. 

Richmond Somerville, Mass. 

St. Louis Springfield, Mass. 

Utica Springfield, Ohio 

Wheeling Troy 

Williamsport Wilmington 

Woonsocket York 

Not only do cities vary in the amount of elimination, but 
they differ as to the point where the children begin to drop out 

62 



MORTALITY AND SURVIVAL IN THE GRADES 

of school. Quincy and Haverhill begin to lose their children 
in large numbers in the eighth grade. The colored children of 
Memphis and New Orleans show a considerable falling out at the 
fourth grade. Between these two extremes lie all the other cases. 
The cities recording loss of pupils in considerable numbers in the 
fifth, sixth and seventh grades are shown in Table 31. 

The city of Quincy, Massachusetts, in carrying eighty-two 
children to the eighth grade out of each hundred who enter, 
takes to the end of the course nearly five times as many pupils 
as does Camden with its record of seventeen. Great as this 
variability is, however, it is not so marked as that disclosed when 
we compare the records of the different cities in respect to the 
proportion of pupils they carry to the fourth year of the high 
school. 

We have already noted that the general tendency is to 
carry one in ten through the entire course. This record is greatly 
surpassed by a few cities. Table 32 shows the accomplishment 
in this regard of fifty-one cities. 

The figures showing retention in the high school classes 
are not to be so fully trusted as are those for the grades, because 
pupils now in the high schools started some years ago and therefore 
to find the number of beginners the computations should in strict 
fairness be based on age figures of some years back. Moreover, 
in some cases computations have been necessary in order to put 
the figures for high school membership on the same basis as those 
for grade membership. However, the methods employed are as 
fair to one city as they are to another, and in any event the possi- 
ble error is relatively small. 

It is a matter for serious reflection that out of fifty-one 
cities no fewer than eleven carry 5 per cent or less of their children 
through the high school course, while eight others carry from 
20 to 38 per cent through. The achievements of these latter 
cities show that a high measure of success in giving high school 
educations to a large percentage of all of the children is possible 
through means which already exist. It would seem that the 
methods employed by the cities at the head of the list might well 
be studied by the authorities of those near the foot. 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

TABLE 32. SHOWING THE PERCENTAGE OF PUPILS RETAINED TO 
THE FOURTH YEAR OF THE HIGH SCHOOL IN FIFTY-ONE CITIES. 

Per cent 
City Retained 

1. Newton, Mass. 38 

2. Waltham, Mass 29 

3. Aurora, 111. . . . . . . . . . . .25 

4. Newark, O. ........... 25 

5. Decatur, 111 24 

6. Haverhill, Mass 24 

7. Fitchburg, Mass. 23 

8. Kansas City, Mo 22 

9. Somerville, Mass 22 

10. Maiden, Mass. 19 

11. Quincy, Mass 18 

12. Kingston, N. Y 16 

13. New Brunswick, N. J 16 

14. Portland, Me 16 

15. Dayton, Ohio 15 

1 6. Columbus, Ohio 15 

17. Minneapolis, Minn. 15 

18. New Haven, Conn 15 

19. Denver, Colo 14 

20. Medford, Mass 14 

21. Omaha, Neb 13 

22. Newport, R. I. . . 12 

23. Grand Rapids, Mich. n 

24. Springfield, Mass 11 

25. Woonsocket, R. I . n 

26. Cleveland, Ohio 10 

27. Trenton, N. J 10 

28. Utica, N. Y 10 

29. Williamsport, Pa 10 

30. York, Pa 10 

31. Los Angeles, Cal 9 

32. Meriden, Conn 9 

33. Salt Lake City, Utah 9 

34. Fort Wayne, Ind 8 

35. Louisville, Ky. (white) 7 

36. Springfield, Ohio 7 

37. Baltimore, Md. . . . . . . . . . 6 

38. Boston, Mass 6 

39. Passaic, N. J . . . 6 

40. St. Louis, Mo 6 

41. Chicago, 111 5 

42. Cincinnati, Ohio 5 

43. Paterson, N. J 5 

44. Reading, Pa 5 

45. Hoboken, N. J 4 

46. Camden, N. J. 3 

47. Jersey City, N. J 3 

48. Newark, N. J 3 

49. New York, N. Y 3 

50. Philadelphia, Pa 3 

51. Wheeling, W. Va 3 

6 4 



MORTALITY AND SURVIVAL IN THE GRADES 

In this study of elimination several points have been specially 
emphasized. Without making any attempt to comment on their 
educational significance it seems worth while to summarize them : 

1. The general tendency of American city school systems 
is to carry all of the children through the fifth grade, half of them 
to the final elementary grade, and one in ten to the final year of 
the high school. 

2. So far as leaving school is concerned, there is less of a 
gap between the final elementary grade and the first year of the 
high school than there is between the two last years of the gram- 
mar course or the first two high school grades. 

3. There is a great variability between cities both in the 
amount of elimination and the point where it begins. There 
is an even greater variability in respect to retention of pupils 
through the high school. 

In regard to the method by which the results are computed 
it must be remembered that no claim is made that it is accurate. 
It does not take the place of statistics showing the annual number 
of beginners, nor does it render such figures unnecessary. The 
method constitutes a substantially reliable measure for ascertain- 
ing certain most significant and necessary facts. It is simple 
and may be applied by anyone. It is offered with full compre- 
hension of its limitations, but in the belief in its value for purposes 
of information and comparison. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE ELIMINATION STUDY OF THE BUREAU OF 

EDUCATION 

THE results presented in the preceding chapter showing 
local results and general tendencies of the elimination of 
pupils from school are so widely at variance with those 
which have been officially published by the United States Bureau 
of Education as to require that the untrustworthy character of 
the official reports be established if the new figures presented in 
this volume are to be accepted. 

Up to the present time the most important document 
in the literature bearing on this subject is a monograph entitled 
" Elimination of Pupils from School/' written by Prof. Edward 
L. Thorndike of Teachers College, Columbia University, and 
published by the United States Bureau of Education. This 
publication presented results purporting to show the percentage 
of children continuing to the several grades in a number of the 
larger cities of the country. Its appearance was greeted by wide- 
spread newspaper comment, by many editorials dealing with 
the shocking degree of inefficiency in our school systems appar- 
ently disclosed, and by a storm of discontent and criticism on 
the part of superintendents who denied the truth of the figures 
presented. 

Among the twenty-three cities for which final results were 
given in that publication, seventeen appear also in the table 
already presented (pages 55 to 57). Comparison between the two 
sets of results follows; the figures for the new standard being 
here given with one decimal place instead of in whole percentages 
as in Chapter V. 

66 



THE ELIMINATION STUDY OF THE BUREAU OF EDUCATION 

TABLE 33. PER CENT OF PUPILS ENTERING SCHOOL WHO CONTINUE 
TO THE FINAL ELEMENTARY GRADE IN SIXTEEN CITIES. 

(Thorndike and New Standards compared.) 

City Thorndike ~ t Ne , 

* Standard 

Baltimore v i4-4 29.3 

Boston 47- 59-3 

Chicago 35.0 52.3 

Cleveland 33.1 47.6 

Denver 44.0 68.8 - 

Jersey City 26.4 44.7 

Kansas City "^49-4 67.4 

Los Angeles . . . . . 45- 1 49-7 

Minneapolis 32.0 62.4 

Newark 25.0 28.0 

New York 33.7 42.6 

Paterson 19.4 36.1 

St. Louis (white) 21.0 42.3 

Springfield, Mass 38.5 56.6 

Trenton 30.6 38.0 

Wilmington 39.0 65.0 

Lowest 14.4 28.0 

Highest 49.4 68.8 

Median 33.3 48.6 

Average 33.3 49-3 

Dr. Thorndike also gives a further series of results of which 
he says that it has not been possible to work them out with as 
complete precautions as in the case of those in the main body 
of the report, but that they are probably accurate within from 
2 to 8 per cent. Comparisons follow: 

TABLE 34. COMPARISON AS IN TABLE 33, FOR EIGHT CITIES. 



Cincinnati . . 25.0 41.3 

Dayton 38.0 45.8 

Medford 69.0 72.2 

New Orleans 20.0 20.6 

Philadelphia 18.0 32.4 

Portland, Me 47.0 54.7 

Salt Lake City 44.0 44.9 

Springfield, 46.0 59.4 

Lowest 18.0 20.6 

Highest 69.0 72.2 

Median 41.0 45.4 

Average 38.3 46.4 

In view of the astonishing differences between the results 

announced by Dr. Thorndike and those obtained by the applica- 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

tion of the new standard, the question that immediately arises 
is, "How did Dr. Thorndike obtain his results?" This is a 
question much more easily asked than answered. In only a 
few places does he tell us how he obtained his estimate of the 
number of beginning pupils, and nowhere does he disclose speci- 
fically how his further percentages were computed. A careful 
study of his monograph makes it evident that he has taken as a 
starting point the average of the number of pupils found in grades 
i, 2 and 3. This he has compared with the numbers found in 
other grades, modifying the results by an elaborate system of 
"corrections" concerning which we are left in the dark, save 
for the remark, "It would be unprofitable to anyone except the 
critical student of statistical problems for me to rehearse the 
details of this tedious process of corrections." Dr. Thorndike 
does, however, reveal in a few cases the process used for estimating 
the number of beginners. He says, "The main difficulty is in 
inferring from the number in grades i , 2 and 3 the number begin- 
ning school in the course of a year. My correction for this is 
arbitrary. I have simply made the estimate of the number 
of pupils beginning school for any city, which seemed most likely 
in view of the comparative sizes of the populations of grades 
i, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and of whatever other relevant information I 
possessed concerning the city. 

" For instance, in Baltimore, * * * * I have, in 
view of other known facts about the city, taken the population 
of grade 2 as a measure of the number of pupils beginning school. 
In Denver, New Haven, St. Louis, Waterbury and Worcester 
I have judged that the 1+ g +3 figure was a correct representa- 
tion of the number of pupils beginning school annually. In 
Trenton, where the first grade population is over twice the second 
in size, but the third practically equal to the second * * * * 
I have taken a figure about 3 per cent larger than the second 
grade population as the correct representation of the number 
of pupils beginning school." 

Here, then, we have definite statements as to the measure 
adopted as representing the number of pupils beginning school. 
Where he has disclosed his method Dr. Thorndike states that 
he has assumed the number of beginning pupils to be as follows : 

68 



THE ELIMINATION STUDY OF THE BUREAU OF EDUCATION 



Baltimore, number of pupils in grade 2; Denver, average of grades 
i, 2 and 3; New Haven, average of grades i, 2 and 3; St. Louis, 
average of grades i, 2 and 3; Trenton, 103 per cent of the number 
of pupils in grade 2; Waterbury, average of grades i, 2 and 3; 
Worcester, average of grades i, 2 and 3. 

Among the seven cities in which we are permitted to know 
the method employed by Dr. Thorndike to discover the number 
of beginners, it is impossible to secure age figures in the cases 
of three. In the other cases they are available and we can com- 
pare the results by Dr. Thorndike's method with those of our 
new standard. In each case the most recent printed report 
available is used, no attempt being made to average figures for 
a series of years : 

TABLE 35. NUMBER OF BEGINNERS IN FOUR CITIES. 



City 


Report 
Used 


Dr. Thorndike's 
Method 


By New 
Standard 


Baltimore 


1906-7 


12,002 


7,586 


Denver .... 


1906-7 


4,199 


3,062 


St. Louis 


1906-7 


9,3 6 7 


7,413 


Trenton 


1903-4 


1,248 


i,039 



In the above table the figure given for the new standard 
in the case of St. Louis is the result of finding the average of the 
age groups seven to twelve by use of the relative figures. This 
was necessary because, since membership in the several grades in 
St. Louis and age statistics are taken on different bases, it has 
been necessary to equalize them. In all other cases the original 
data are used. 

Now, the significance of the comparative results in the 
above table is that Dr. Thorndike always gets as the number of 
beginners an impossibly large number. If he has done so in the 
cases of other cities it is plain that the entering classes have been 
estimated at too high a figure. The percentages of pupils con- 
tinuing to the higher grades are then always too low before the 
"corrections" are applied. We have reason to believe that the 
"corrections" improve matters little in this respect. 

69 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

The fundamental error in Dr. Thorndike's work seems to 
be that he has based his estimates of the number of beginners on 
the grade figures. In doing so he has been too largely influenced 
by the figures for the average of the first three grades. I am 
fully convinced that the number of beginners will always be less 
than tne number in either the second or third grade, and that 
it will never be as large as the average of the first three grades. 

If this is the case the raw material used to get his first results 
will invariably give Dr. Thorndike too large a divisor and as a 
result his quotients will always be too small. This is the under- 
lying error of logic in the work, and there is no reason why we 
should assume that it has been corrected by some undiscovered 
system of corrections too subtle and intricate for comprehension 
by the ordinary mind. 

This fundamental error in Dr. Thorndike's work not only 
gives him untrustworthy results for individual cities, but vitiates 
his general conclusions in regard to the tendencies of elimination. 
The difference between his conclusions as to the general tendency 
and those expressed in the preceding chapter as a result of the 
method there explained is graphically shown in Diagram XIV, in 
which the dotted line represents Dr. Thorndike's conclusions 
and the solid line those of the author. 

Dr. Thorndike claims that elimination begins from the 
very first grade and continues throughout the course; the author 
is convinced that there is abundant evidence that the general 
tendency of our schools is to hold practically all of the pupils 
to the sixth grade. 

Dr. Thorndike concludes that only about one-third of 
the pupils entering school graduate from an elementary school 
of seven grades or more. Our investigations show that the propor- 
tion is more nearly one-half. 

We agree that less than one pupil in ten ever graduates from 
the high school. 

After studying conditions in a number of cities of 25,000 
population and over, Dr. Thorndike concludes that the con- 
ditions disclosed are probably much better than they are in the 
country as a whole. It would appear that this conclusion is 
based on the general principle that information gathered from 

70 



THE ELIMINATION STUDY OF THE BUREAU OF EDUCATION 

printed municipal reports is liable to the constant error of pre- 
senting conditions which are better than typical conditions. 
This is usually true because only the progressive town or city 
publishes its reports. 

In the case in point this conclusion seems not to be justified. 
In the cases studied it is true to a remarkable degree that the 



100 

90 
80 
70 
60 
50 
40 
30 
20 
10 



GRADES 



HIGH SCHOOL 



Last 
7 Gram- I 

mar 



HI IV 





Last 

7 Gram- 
mar 



II III IV 



Diagram XIV. General tendency of elimination as stated by Dr. Thorn- 
dike represented by dotted line, contrasted with results presented by the author 
represented by solid line. 



large cities make poor records in respect to elimination. The 
best records are made by comparatively small places. 

The idea that small towns, villages and small cities make 
better records in respect to retention of children in school than 
do large cities is confirmed by figures published in the report 
of the Commissioner of Education for 1907 giving the aggregate 
grade distributions in 386 cities of 8,000 population and over, 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

and in 366 towns and villages of less than 8,000 population. 
It seems probable in each case that the membership of the fifth 
grade is not far from equalling the annual number of beginners. 
Converting the two grade distributions into relative figures on 
the basis of 1000 children in the fifth grade, we have the follow- 
ing comparison : 

TABLE 36. SHOWING IN RELATIVE FIGURES GRADE DISTRIBUTIONS 

IN CITIES AND VILLAGES ON THE BASIS OF IOOO PUPILS 
IN THE FIFTH GRADE. 

Grade 386 Cities 366 Villages 

First Grade 1809 1748 

Second Grade I 39 1262 

Third Grade 1254 1208 

Fourth Grade 1158 IJ 37 

Fifth Grade 1000 1000 

Sixth Grade 837 851 

Seventh Grade 667 720 

Eighth Grade 477 553 

It will be noted that in each of the lower grades the member- 
ship in the cities is more swollen than in the villages. In each 
of the upper grades the pupils are retained better by the villages 
than by the cities. In view of this evidence coupled with that 
gained from a study of conditions in the individual localities, the 
conclusion seems justified that as a rule small cities and villages 
retain their pupils better and have less retardation in their schools 
than do larger cities. 






CHAPTER VII 
RATES OF PROGRESS 

THAT those who occupy their minds and their pens with 
the problem of the backward child forget that many 
pupils pass through our schools in less than the normal 
number of years, is a contention that is put forth with great fre- 
quency and some show of reason. Children "skip grades," are 
given "double promotions," and complete the elementary course 
in one or more years less than the time assigned by the course of 
study. ~ It has frequently been argued that our school systems 
are well calculated to meet the needs of the average child, and 
that it is neither a cause for surprise nor alarm that some children 
complete the work in less than the normal time while others 
take a year or two more. The slow children claim those who 
argue thus are counterbalanced by the bright ones, and there- 
fore the problem by no means merits the attention which is being 
given to it. 

Little thought is needed to convince the student of this 
problem that no such counterbalancing effect is possible in the 
sense in which the term is here used. Even if some children do 
make more than normal progress, the fact does not do away 
with the necessity for considering most carefully the welfare 
of the slow ones. But this is not the crucial point in the argu- 
ments mentioned. The important thing to discover is whether 
it is true that our school systems have on the whole been so planned 
that they fit the abilities of the average child. Do most of the 
children succeed in keeping up with their classes and graduating 
from the eighth grade in eight years? 

We know that the answer to this last question must be a 
negative one, for a large part of the children never succeed in 
graduating from the final grammar grade at all. 

73 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

STATISTICS OF NORMAL, SLOW AND RAPID PROGRESS 

/The question of how nearly our courses of study correspond 
to the abilities of the average child is more difficult to answer. 
Information that would help us to decide this point is rare in the 
printed reports. Three cities publish tables showing how many 
pupils in each grade are doing the work of the year for the second 
time. That is, they show by grades the number of repeaters. 
These cities are Kansas City, Missouri, Springfield, Ohio, and 
Williamsport, Pennsylvania. 



TABLE 37. NUMBER OF PUPILS MORE THAN ONE YEAR IN THE 
SAME GRADE IN THREE CITIES. 





KANSAS CITY 


SPRINGFIELD 


WILLIAMSPORT 


GRADE 


Enrollment 


Repeating 


Enrollment 


Repeating 


Enrollment 


Repeating 


1 


7773 


1232 


796 


220 


808 


1 66 


2 


4278 


59 


771 


127 


610 


70 


3 


4248 


841 


806 


128 


624 


85 


4 


4085 


1077 


706 


112 


734 


105 


5 


3 2 94 


932- 


672 


85 


640 


9 1 


6 


2677 


661 


563 


7 1 


57 


ss 


7 


2154 


329 


454 


!3 


420 


36 


8 






346 


9 


306 


J 7 


9 





- 




- 


246 


i5 


Total 


28509 


5662 


5 IJ 4 


765 


4895 


643 



In the case of Kansas City the enrollment by grades is the 
total enrollment for the year. In the two other cases it is the 
enrollment at the end of the year. The figures giving the num- 
ber of repeaters reduced to percentages of the grade enroll- 
ment are given in Table 38. 

The figures show that conditions vary considerably in these 
cities. In Springfield and Williamsport the percentage of repeaters 
in the first grade is decidedly higher than in the second and it 
continues to decrease as the upper grades are reached. Ln Kansas 
City, on the other hand, the most difficult grade appears to be the 

74 



RATES OF PROGRESS 



TABLE 38. PER CENT OF PUPILS REPEATING WORK OF GRADES IN 

THREE CITIES. 



Grade 


Kansas City 


Springfield 


Williamsport 


First Grade . 


15-8 


27.6 


20.5- 


Second Grade 


13.8 


16.5 


"5 


Third Grade 


19.8 


15-9 


13-6 


Fourth Grade 


26.4 


!5-9 


14-3 


Fifth Grade . 


28.3 


12.6 


14.2 


Sixth Grade . 


24.7 


12.6 


11.4 


Seventh Grade 


15-3 


2.9 


8.6 


Eighth Grade 




2.6 


5-6 


Ninth Grade 


- 




6.1 


Total .... 


19.8 


14.9 


J3- 1 



fifth. These characteristic differences are shown in the following 
diagram: 



GRADES 



PER 
CENT 

28 
26 
24 
22 
20 
18 
16 
14 
12 
10 

8 

6 

4 

2 



123456789 



Diagram XV. Per cent of pupils repeating work of grades. Springfield, O., solid 
line; Kansas City, Mo., dotted line; Williamsport, Pa., dashed line. 

Information concerning progress more rapid than normal L 
is almost as rare as is that telling of slow progress. Five cities 

75 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Somerville, Massa- 
chusetts, and Springfield, Ohio publish tables showing the num- 
ber of "double promotions" or "special promotions." 

TABLE 39. TOTAL PROMOTIONS AND SPECIAL PROMOTIONS IN FIVE 

CITIES. 



City 


Total 
Promotions 


Special 
Promotions 


Per cent of 
Special 
Promotions 








New York, 1908 


969,998 


42,692 


2-5 


Philadelphia, 1908 . 


122,644 


2,406 


1.9 


Salt Lake City, 1907 


21,259 


242 


i.i 


Somerville, Mass., 1907 . 


9> I2 5 


*54 


1.6 


Springfield, O., 1907 


4,755 


7 


.1 



It is evident that in these school systems the pupils may be 
divided into three general classes as regards progress. First, 
those who receive regular promotion at the end of the term. 
These are the children who are making normal progress and they 
constitute the great bulk of the entire membership. Then come 
the children who fail of promotion. They are the ones who 
make slow progress. The last group is composed of those who 
receive special and double promotions. They are the children 
who are making rapid progress. The following table shows 
the size of each of these groups in the five cities : 

TABLE 40. SLOW AND RAPID PUPILS COMPARED IN FIVE CITIES. 





On 




Not Pro- 


Special 


A 


City 


Promotion 


Promotions 


moted 


Promotions 


Divided 




List 




A 


B 


by B 


New York, 1908 . . 


1,178,633 


927,306 


208,635 


42,692 


5-9 


Philadelphia, 1908 . 


148,812 


120,238 


26,168 


2,406 


n.8 


Salt Lake City, 1907 . 


24,760 


21,017 


3>5i 


242 


14.4 


Somerville, Mass., 1907 


10,165 


8,971 


1,040 


154 


7.0 


Springfield, O., 1907 . 


5> 6l 4 


4,748 


859 


7 


124.1 



The large number on the promotion list in New York is ex- 
plained by the fact that the system of semi-annual promotions 
is in use in that city. Thus the number on the promotion list 



RATES OF PROGRESS 

during the year is approximately twice the number of children 
enrolled. 

The figures in the last column show us that the pupils who 
are making slow progress are from six to fourteen times as numer- 
ous as are those who are making rapid progress, save in the 
exceptional case of Springfield, Ohio. In this latter city special 
promotions are so exceedingly rare that the slow pupils are more 
than 124 times as numerous as the rapid ones. 

When the same data are reduced to relative figures, taking 
as a base in each case 1000 children on the promotion list, we have 
a new table which enables us to note in each city the relative sizes 
of the groups made up of the normal children, the rapid children 
and the slow ones, and compare the number of children making 
rapid with those making slow progress. 

TABLE 41. PUPILS MAKING SLOW, NORMAL AND RAPID PROGRESS 
COMPARED IN FIVE CITIES. 



City 


On Pro- 
motion 


Promotions 


Not Pro- 
moted 


Special 
Promotions 




List 








New York, 1908 . 


IOOO 


75 1 


213 


36 


Philadelphia, 1908 


IOOO 


807 


176 


17 


Salt Lake City, 1907 . 


IOOO 


843 


147 


10 


Somerville, 1907 .... 


IOOO 


877 


108 


15 


Springfield, 1907 .... 


IOOO 


844 


155 


i 



If we read the figures as percentages, we see that the pro- 
portion of children regularly promoted varies from 75 per cent 
in New York to more than 87 per cent in Somerville. Those 
failing of promotion, or those making slow progress, vary from 
10 per cent in Somerville to 21 per cent in New York. Those 
receiving special promotion who are the children making 
rapid progress vary from i per cent in Salt Lake City to more 
than 3 per cent in New York. If we leave out the exceptional 
case of Springfield we shall find that on the average in these cities 
the children making slow progress are eight and one-fourth times 
as numerous as are those making rapid progress. 



77 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



RATES OF PROGRESS AMONG 9489 NEW YORK SCHOOL CHILDREN 
Among the 20,000 children whose records were studied 
in the investigation conducted in New York City, to which refer- 
ence has been made, there were 9,489 whose records were complete. 
These children were divided into two groups on the basis of age 
in grade. All children in the first grade were considered as of 
normal age if they were less than nine years old. Those above 
that age were considered as above normal age. Ten years was 
the limit for the second grade, eleven for the third, and so on. 
On this basis it was found that nearly 16 per cent of the children 
were above normal age for their grades. 

It is evident that children entering the first grade for the 
first time at any age beyond eight years will of necessity be 
counted as above normal age and fall into the class "retarded," 
even if they progress normally at each regular time of promo- 
tion. By applying these standards of normal time and normal 
age for entering, it was possible to discover for each grade how 
many pupils were above normal age, how many of these were 
above normal age on account of late entrance, how many on 
account of slow progress, and the number who fell into the group 
as a result of the combined influences of starting late and pro- 
gressing slowly. As a result we have the following table: 

TABLE 42. CAUSES OF RETARDATION, BY GRADES, OF 9489 PUPILS 
IN NEW YORK CITY. 



Grade 


Member- 
ship 


Above Nor- 
mal Age 


Above Nor- 
mal Age be- 
cause of Late 
Entrance 


Above Nor- 
mal Age be- 
cause of Late 
Entrance and 
Slow Progress 


Above Nor- 
mal Age be- 
cause of Slou< 
Progress only 


1 


2377 


153 


IOO 


22 


3i 


2 


1710 


219 


9 1 


29 


99 


3 


1393 


267 


61 


40 


1 66 


4 


1032 


189 


63 


26 


IOO 


5 


949 


257 


5i 


3 1 


J 75 


6 


786 


213 


5 


24 


139 


7 


719 


117 


22 


14 


81 


8 


5 2 3 


79 


19 


7 


53 


Total . 


9489 


1494 


457 


193 


844 



78 



RATES OF PROGRESS 



Converting our totals into relative figures, the table enables 
us to draw these significant conclusions: 

Of each 100 retarded children 

30 are retarded because of late entrance; 

13 are retarded because of late entrance and slow progress; 

57 are retarded because of slow progress. 

It must be remembered that the standard by which we decide 
how many children are above normal age has been deliberately 
chosen with a view to putting in that class only the extreme 
cases. Many children take much more than the normal time to 
complete their grades, and yet on account of the early age at 
which they start they avoid falling into the over-age group. 
Again, others progress more rapidly than the rate planned for 
them by the course of study. The time in school of the 9489 is 
given by whole grades in the following table: 

TABLE 43. TIME IN SCHOOL, BY GRADES, OF 9489 PUPILS IN NEW 

YORK CITY. 













YEA 


RS IIS 


r SCE 


[OOL 
































5 





o 

w 




Grade 


JU 

?! 

3 


1 

N 

\ 

H 


K 

r 

M 


1 
I 


1 

10 


vO 

uo 


1 

I 


1 

P 
t^ 


1 

f 

00 




1 

o 

M 

\ 

ON 




& 

M 

I 


1 

M 

M 

\ 

M 
M 


Total 


1 


1084. 


u8< 


88 


IQ 


I 
















2377 


2 




r e 7 






20 
















1710 


3 

4 
5 
6 

7 
8 


^o 


OJ/ 

33 


37 1 
53 


^6 
659 
388 

3 
i 


256 

428 

206 
2 3 


65 
137 
390 
135 

S 6 


8 

2 3 

218 

387 
176 
26 


2 
7 6 
I6 3 
2 7 6 
151 


i 
i 

24 

57 
142 

,220 


5 

17 

5 

96 


3 
ii 

22 


I 

2 


1393 
1032 

949 
786 
719 

523 


Total 


1107 


1775 


1416 


1290 


95i 


787 


838 


668 


445 


173 


36 


3 


9489 



Looking at the figures for the first grade, we see that one 
pupil has been in school more than four years without having 
entered the second grade. In the third grade we note that one 
pupil is in his ninth year of school life. The pupils who have been 
in school more than eight years without reaching the eighth grade 

79 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



number 317. We also note that in each grade after the first some 
pupils have done the work more quickly than the regular rate. 
But it is not possible to discover from this table the true extent 
of normal progress, of progress more rapid than normal, and 
of that less rapid than normal. To show this, a table has been 
made up from the data obtained for each half grade. To render 
it more compact this table has been condensed so as to give the 
facts by whole grades and terms. A term is half of a school year. 

TABLE 44. EXTENT OF SLOW, NORMAL AND RAPID PROGRESS 
AMONG 9489 PUPILS IN NEW YORK CITY. 





TERMS LESS 
THAN NORMAL 




TERMS MORE THAN NORMAL 




Grade 




Normal 




Total 




4 


3 


2 


1 




1 


2 


3 


4 


5 


6 


7 


8 


9 


10 




1 








7 


1886 


366 


8g 


9 


i5 


4 




i 








2377 


2 








46 


994 


376 


203 


56 


20 


ii 


4 










1710 


3 






i5 


38 


66 1 


294 


i85 


112 


49 


27 


8 


3 






i 


J 393 


4 






32 


105 


457 


214 


118 


70 


20 


12 


2 


i 


i 






1032 


5 






13 


83 


358 


169 


148 


99 


6 4 


28 


16 


10 


5 


i 




949 


6 




5 


13 


32 


2 93 


161 


in 


83 


39 


23 


16 


6 


4 






786 


7 


6 


6 


24 


42 


259 


136 


IO2 


64 


40 


23 


ii 


4 


2 






719 


8 


4 


9 


14 


38 


232 


86 


55 


5 


22 


II 




i 


I 






523 


Total 


10 


20 


in 


346 


5 J 4 


1802 


IOII 


543 


269 


J 39 


57 


26 


13 


i 


i 


9489 



The figures giving the same facts in aggregate, not showing 
the degree less than and more than normal, are to be found in 
Tables 45 and 46 in the first in actual figures, in the second in 
relative figures on the basis of 1000 children in each grade. 

The conditions disclosed by these figures are significant. 
There are in these schools children who have spent as much as 
eight, nine, or even ten terms more than they normally should 
have to reach the grades they are in. The numbers who have 
spent two, three, or four terms too much are large. Nor must 
we conclude that such wide variations are found merely because 
we have here aggregate figures for a number of schools. An 
examination of the original records for the separate classrooms 

80 



RATES OF PROGRESS 



TABLE 45. SHOWING NUMBER OF CHILDREN BY GRADES WHO HAVE 
REACHED THEIR PRESENT STANDING IN LESS THAN NORMAL 
TIME, IN NORMAL TIME, AND IN MORE THAN NORMAL TIME 
IN NEW YORK CITY. ORIGINAL DATA. 



Grade 


Membership 


Less than 
Normal Time 


Normal Time 


More than 
Normal Time 


1 


2377 


7 


1886 


484 


2 


1710 


46 


994 


670 


3 


J 393 


53 


66 1 


679- 


4 


1032 


J 37 


457 


438 


5 


949 


5 1 


358 


540 


6 


786 


So 


293 


443 


7 


719 


78 


2 59 


382 


8 


523 


65 


232 


226 


Total 


9489 


487 


5*40 


3862 



TABLE 46. RELATIVE FIGURES SHOWING PUPILS MAKING SLOW, 
NORMAL AND RAPID PROGRESS. 



Grade 


Membership 


Less Than 
Normal Time 


Normal Time 


More than 
Normal Time 


1 


IOOO 


3 


793 


204 


2 


IOOO 


2 7 


58i 


392 


3 


IOOO 


38 


475 


487 


4 


IOOO 


133 


443 


424 


5 


IOOO 


54 


377 


569 


6 


IOOO 


64 


373 


563 


7 


IOOO 


109 


360 


53i 


8 


IOOO 


125 


443 


432 


All Grades 


IOOO 


5 1 


542 


407 



shows that children of widely varying ages and school experience 
are grouped together in one classroom. In the investigation 
boys and girls were found who had been four years in the first 
grade. One girl in the third grade had been in school nine years. 
Many children were found who had begun their school lives 
before their present classmates were born. 

Looking at the figures for all grades at the foot of the table 
giving the relative figures, we find that if we reduce the figures 
6 81 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

roughly to percentages, 5 per cent of the pupils have progressed 
to their present standing more rapidly than the normal rate; 
55 per cent have progressed normally; and 40 per cent have made 
slower than normal progress. In the fifth, sixth and seventh 
grades, those who have made slower than normal progress out- 
number all the others. If we consider the school membership 
as made up of the three groups of those who have progressed 
more rapidly than normal, those who have made normal progress, 
and those whose progress has been slower than normal and if 
we compute the degree of their variations from normal progress, 
we get the following results : 

Of the entire membership 5 per cent have reached their 
present grades in 86 per cent of the normal time; 55 per cent 
have reached their present grades in 100 per cent of the normal 
time; 40 per cent have reached their present grades in 128 per 
cent of the normal time. 

This is shown in graphic form in the following diagram 
in which the width of each rectangle represents the proportion 
of the pupils in the class, and the length the relative amount of 
time consumed in reaching their present standing: 



5% reached 
present grades 5% 
in 86% of 
normal time 



55% reached 
present grades e,- 07 
in 100% of )5% 
normal time 



86% 



100% 



40% reached 
present grades 4QO/ 
in i 2 8%_of 40% 
normal time 



128% 



Diagram XVI. Rates of progress of 9489 pupils in New York City. 

82 



RATES OF PROGRESS 



We have seen that the number of children making slow 
progress is very much larger than the number making rapid pro- 
gress. According to the available data the slow pupils are on 




Diagram XVII. Contrasting number of pupils making rapid progress with those 
making slow progress. Rapid pupils hatched; slow pupils black. 

the average more than eight _times as numerous as the rapid ones. 
That this is true not only in fact but in degree is shown by figures 
from, New York and Baltimore. The slow children not only 

83 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

greatly outnumber the rapid ones, but the_Jjme_Ja^-by--4he-- for- 
mer is considerably greater in proportion than is that saved by 
the rapid ones. 

In the table showing the time in grades by terms of the 
9489 children whose records were studied in New York we noted 
that 487 made rapid progress and 3862 slow progress. The dis- 
tribution of these pupils according to the number of terms lost 
or gained and the comparison between the two groups composed 
of slow and rapid pupils is shown in Diagram XVII. 

Computing the time saved by the rapid pupils we find that 
it amounts to 668 terms. The time lost by the slow pupils 
amounts to 7855 terms, or nearly twelve times as much. In 
other words the slow pupils are eight times,. as-wumerous as the 
rapid ones, but they lose twelve times as much time as the rapid 
ones gain. 

The Baltimore report for 1907 gives the number of pupils 
completing the work of the grades in different numbers of months. 
The number of pupils making rapid progress was 3034. The slow 
pupils numbered 12,261, or four times as many. The number of 
months saved by the rapid pupils amounted to 10,425; that lost 
by the slow ones to 92,994. The ratio is about nine to one. Here 
again the same characteristic difference is to be noted. The 
slow pupils are four times as numerous as the rapid ones, but 
the time lost by the former is nine times as much as that saved 
by the latter. It is probable that there are far more slow pupils 
in the schools of Baltimore than these figures indicate. They 
refer to pupils completing grades. Apparently there are many 
more who did not complete their grades and so are not included. 
The illustration is valuable in showing the relation between time 
lost and time gained rather than in showing how rapid pupils 
compare in number with slow ones. 



PROGRESS OF AVERAGE CHILD 

While all of the data discussed bear on important phases 
of the problem of rates of progress through the grades, they 
give us no measure by which we can answer the question how 
rapidly the average child in our city schools progresses. After 



RATES OF PROGRESS 

all, the crucial question is whether or not the average child can 
do the work of eight grades in eight years. There is little or no 
direct information available to answer this question. 

If all of the children remained in school until graduation 
from the final grade we might arrive at an approximate answer 
by comparing the average age of children in the final grade with 
the average age in the first grade, but many children do not stay 
to graduate. Those who do remain are the survivors; the more 
fit, the most brilliant, the youngest. 

Moreover, the average age of children in the first grade is 
not the average of the beginners, for the first grades, as we have 
seen, are never made up exclusively of beginners. They are made 
up of some children who entered school for the first time during 
the current year, and many who entered earlier. The average 
age of first grade children will always be somewhat more than 
the average age of the beginning children. 

However, if we cannot measure the average time required 
to complete the course, we can measure with substantial accuracy 
that required to complete a definite part of it. Practically no 
children drop out of school before reaching the fifth grade. If 
then we compare the average age of first grade pupils in a given 
system with average age of the fifth grade pupils in the same 
system, we shall have a means of ascertaining how long it takes 
the average child in that city to make the journey from the 
first grade to the fifth. Obviously it should take him four 
years. 

The data necessary for making this comparison have been 
secured in the shape of age and grade distributions from twenty- 
nine cities. 

In Table 47 on the following page these cities are arranged 
according to the magnitude of the difference between the average 
age of the first grade pupils and that of the fifth grade pupils. 
As has already been stated this should be four years if all of the 
pupils made normal progress. How long it does take the average 
child to do the work of four grades in each of the twenty-nine 
cities is shown by the figures in the last column. 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

TABLE 47. TIME REQUIRED TO DO THE WORK OF FOUR GRADES IN 
EACH OF TWENTY-NINE CITIES. 



City 


Ave. Age 
First Grade 


Ave. Age 
Fifth Grade 


Difference 


i. Aurora, 111., 1907 .... 


7- J 3 


II. 21 


4.08 


2. Meriden, Conn., 1907 . 


6.68 


10.92 


4.24 


3. Cincinnati, O., 1907 


8.12 


12.48 


4-36 


4. Trenton, N. J., 1903 . 


7.14 


11.50 


4-3 6 


5. Utica, N. Y., 1906-7 . 


7-39 


H.85 


4.46 


6. St. Louis, Mo., 1901-2 


7.98 


12.47 


4-49 


7. Wilmington, Del. (white), 1905-6 


7.38 


11.90 


4-52 


8. Portland, Ore., 1907 . 


7.28 


11.81 


4-53 


9. Columbus, O., 1906-7 


7.56 


12.15 


4-59 


10. Reading, Pa., 1907 


7- 2 3 


11.82 


4-59 


ii. Medford, Mass., 1907-8 


S-96 


10.56 


4.60 


12. Boston, Mass., 1907 


6.74 


"39 


4-65 


13. Philadelphia, Pa., 1908 


7.42 


12.08 


4.66 


14. Los Angeles, Cal., 1903-4 . 


7-59 


12.30 


4.71 


15. Quincv, Mass., 1908 . 


6.31 


1 1. 02 


4.71 


1 6. New York, N. Y., 1908 


7.07 


11.81 


4-74 


17. Ft. Wayne, Ind., 1906-7 


6.80 


n-55 


4-75 


18. Baltimore, Md., 1905-6 


7.56 


12.35 


4-79 


19. Maiden, Mass., 1908 . 


6-53 


n-33 


4.80 


20. York, Pa., 1908 .... 


7.46 


12.26 


4.80 


21. Woonsocket, R. I., 1907 


7.02 


11.85 


4-83 


22. Decatur, 111., 1908 


6.87 


11.80 


4-93 


23. Springfield, Mass., 1907-8 . 


6.71 


11.66 


4-95 


24. Kingston, N. Y., 1908 


7.22 


12.20 


4.98 


25. Memphis, Tenn. (white), 1908 . 


7.48 


12.62 


5-i4 


26. Memphis (colored), 1908 


8.96 


14.12 


5-i6 


27. Troy, N. Y., 1903-4 . 


6.92 


12.12 


5.20 


28. Camden, N. J., 1905-6 
29. Wilmington, Del. (colored), 1905-6 


7-i3 

8.12 


12.51 

I3-50 


5.38 
5.38 


30. Kansas City, Mo., 1906-7 . 


6.63 


12.58 


5-95 


31. Erie, Pa., 1901 .... 


7-5i 


13-73 


6.22 



That in no city does the average child do the work of four 
grades in four years, is shown conclusively by these statistics. 
The average time consumed is 4.67 years. After the first grade 
is passed there is in most systems but little difference between 
the percentages of promotion in the different grades. Hence, 
we may assume that we can compute with fair accuracy from 
the figures we have how long it would take the average child to 
complete eight grades, if all of the children remained to complete 
the course. This computation gives us the following results : 



86 



RATES OF PROGRESS 

TABLE 48. SHOWING TIME REQUIRED TO COMPLETE EIGHT GRADES 
AT SAME RATE AS IS SHOWN BETWEEN GRADES ONE AND 
FIVE, IN TWENTY-NINE CITIES. 

Ave. years to 
City Complete 8 Grades 

1. Aurora, 111 8.16 

2. Meriden, Conn 8.48 

3. Cincinnati, 8.72 

4. Trenton, N. J 8.72 

5. Utica, N. Y . 8.92 

6. St. Louis, Mo 8.98 

7. Wilmington, Del. (white) . 9.04 

8. Portland, Ore 9.06 

9. Columbus, 9.18 

10. Reading, Pa 9.18 

11. Medford, Mass 9.20 

12. Boston, Mass. . 9.30 

13. Philadelphia, Pa 9.32 

14. Los Angeles, Cal. 9.42 

' 15. Quincy, Mass 9.42 

16. New York, N. Y 9.48 

17. Ft. Wayne, Ind 9.50 

18. Baltimore, Md 9.58 

19. "Maiden, Mass 9.60 

20. York, Pa 9.60 

21. Woonsocket, R. I 9.66 

22. Decatur, 111 9.86 

23. Springfield, Mass * ... 9.90 

24. Kingston, N. Y 9.96 

25. Memphis, Tenn. (white) 10.28 

26. Memphis (colored) 10.32 

27. Troy, N. Y 10.40 

28. Camden, N. J 10.76 

29. Wilmington (colored) 10.76 

30. Kansas City, Mo 11.90 

31. Erie, Pa 12.44 

The average of these averages is 9.34 years. In order 
that the figure may represent with fair accuracy the rate of pro- 
gress of the average child in the average city, we must add to it 
the difference between the average age of the beginner and that 
of the first grade pupils in general. In the investigation conducted 
in New York, to which reference has already been made, this 
difference averaged .8 of a year among some 2800 pupils. 

If this is a fairly representative figure and it probably is 
we may safely increase our average of 9.34 years to 10 years, 
and say that the average child in the average city school sys- 
tem progresses through the grades at the rate of eight grades in 
ten years. 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

As a result of these studies of the rates of progress of children 
through the grades we can with safety formulate five general 
propositions : 

1. The number of children who make slow progress is far 
greater than the number of those who make rapid progress, 
and the time lost by the former is very much greater than is the 
time saved by the latter. 

2. From the available data it appears safe to say that for 
every pupil making rapid progress there are from eight to ten 
making slow progress, and for every term gained by the rapid 
pupils from ten to twelve are lost by the slow ones. 

3. According to the New York investigation, among each 
100 retarded pupils thirty are retarded because of late entrance; 
thirteen because of late entrance and slow progress; and fifty- 
seven because of slow progress. 

4. The courses of study of our city school systems are ad- 
justed to the powers of the brighter pupils. They are beyond 
the powers of the average pupils and far beyond those of the 
slower ones. 

5. The average pupil cannot complete the work of eight 
grades in eight years. So far as can be ascertained, in no city 
does the average child regularly succeed in doing each year's 
work in one year^/The average child in the average city school 
system progresses through the grades at the rate of eight grades 
in ten years. 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE MONEY COST OF THE REPEATER 



< y^vUR OVERCROWDED SCHOOLS" was the head- 
I 1 line of an article which appeared in a New York 
^~^^ newspaper during the second week in January of 
this year. The article reached the desk of the writer as one of 
a collection of clippings on miscellaneous educational topics. The 
same week brought from different cities five other clippings, all 
somewhat similar in tone. From the Minneapolis Tribune of Jan- 
uary eight came an article whose headlines told us: "2702 Children 
in Basement Classes, 60 Rooms Below Street Level are now Occu- 
pied, Six New 16 Room Buildings are Needed to Eliminate Evil." 

A Brooklyn newspaper described the congested condition 
of schools in that city as "scandalous and disgraceful." From 
Philadelphia came an article which in part read as follows: 

"The Philadelphia school problem is the problem of the 
elementary schools. Of the school children of Philadelphia, 
94 per cent are in the elementary schools and 6 per cent are in 
the high schools. There are more than 1000 children to whom 
Philadelphia has given a cold, cold shoulder. They stand at 
our school doors and knock, but no door is opened to them. 
Besides this 1000 and more, there are 15,255 children who have 
succeeded in getting one foot inside of the school. We call them 
'half-timers/ In one Philadelphia schoolroom there are 116 
children under one teacher." 

These newspaper articles are noteworthy because they 
are typical. As many more, similar in tone and content and 
coming from all over the country, could J>e secured every week 
in the year. These words from the press tell us of the problem, 
and by their practically simultaneous appearance they show us 
how general it is. They reflect a condition that is very common 

89 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

in our cities. The two great causes underlying this condition 
are lack of room and lack of money. 

Where congested school conditions constitute a great 
problem, the over-crowding is almost always found in the lower 
grades. In considering the possibility of ameliorating such 
conditions, two lines of inquiry at once present themselves. 
First, if our lower grades are over-crowded, who over-crowd them? 
Are they filled with the children who ought to be in them, or 
are many seats occupied by children who ought to have passed 
on to the upper grades long ago? Secondly, if the lower grades 
are filled with repeaters, how much money is expended on them 
each year which rightfully ought to be expended in supplying 
increased school facilities and in increasing the number of pupils 
in the upper grades? This phase of the inquiry, then, resolves 
itself into a question of finding the number and by this means 
determining the cost of the retarded children who are repeating 
grades. 

It cannot be denied that we are spending money in teaching 
large numbers of children the same things over again. If all the 
children had to reach a certain point before leaving school, this 
money would be saved if they could reach this point earlier; 
but such is not the case. Children are not required to make a 
certain degree of progress in the schools, but only to sit there a 
certain number of years. From the standpoint of the taxpayer 
who has no other interest in education than that of the tax rate, 
it is quite immaterial whether the money raised for schools be 
spent in training first grade pupils or eighth grade pupils. 

Over-crowding means that we are not spending enough 
money on our schools. Retardation means not that we are 
spending too much but that we are spending it wastefully. 

Viewed, then, from this economic or financial standpoint, 
the question is : How great is this waste? 

How shall we determine the number of repeaters? The 
problem is by no means simple, but will repay careful examina- 
tion. The term "retarded" is here applied, as previously ex- 
plained, to the child who is below the proper grade for his age. 
Our schools are crowded with such children. They often con- 
stitute as much as one-third of the entire membership. Whatever 

90 



MONEY COST OF THE REPEATER 

the causes may be that account for this condition, they may be 
grouped, as has been noted, under two general heads, either 
the children have started late, or they have progressed slowly. 
In the case of the child who has started late, little blame can be 
laid at the door of the school. It is the child who progresses 
slowly with whom this study has to deal. When a boy or girl l> 
fails of promotion and repeats the work, the city has to pay for / 
the term's schooling twice over. 

Nor is the money waste the only serious result of repeating 
grades. Attention has already been called to the fact that the 
child who spends much more than the normal amount of time 
in doing the work in the lower grades finds himself at the age of ( 
fourteen, say in the fifth grade instead of the eighth, and, seeing 
that the prospect of promotion is still remote, drops out of school. 

To illustrate how the number and cost of repeaters may be 
determined let us take the case of Columbus, Ohio. In the year 
1906 trie enrollment in all the day schools was as follows: 

TABLE 49. ENROLLMENT BY GRADES, COLUMBUS, 1906. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 37*8 

Second Grade 2 5&7 

Third Grade 2721 

Fourth Grade 2751 

Fifth Grade 2323 

Sixth Grade 1911 

Seventh Grade 1511 

Eighth Grade 1219 



Total . ... 18,741 

HIGH SCHOOLS 

First Year 916 

Second Year 675 

Third Year 480 

Fourth Year 328 



Total for High Schools 2,399 

Normal School 78 



Grand Total 21,218 

The striking feature of this table is the falling off in member- 
ship in the successive grades. The first grade contains 3817 
pupils, the eighth only 1219. As was explained in Chapter V, 

9 1 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

the interpretation of these figures as meaning that in Columbus 
for 3800 children who enter school only 1200 get to the eighth 
grade would be erroneous. This is because each of the lower 
grades contains a certain number of repeaters. The fact that 
there are 3800 children in the first grade does not mean that 3800 
children enter the school each year. In order to ascertain the 
number of repeaters in each of the lower grades we must, in each 
case, subtract the annual number of beginners from the actual 
membership. 

The method by which the number of beginners may be 
ascertained has been fully explained in Chapter V, but in order 
to render the illustrative case of Columbus perfectly clear it may 
be well to repeat it briefly here. The pupils enrolled in all of 
the day schools in Columbus during the year 1905-6 were grouped 
by ages as follows: 

TABLE 50. ENROLLMENT BY AGES, COLUMBUS, OHIO, 1906. 

Age Pupils 

6 years 1,894 

7 years 2,006 

8 years 2 > I2 3 

9 y ears 2 > J 43 

10 years 2,178 

11 years 2,110 

12 years 2,150 

13 years 2,164 

14 years 1,747 

15 years 1,083 

16 years 703 

17 years 507 

18 years 264 

19 years and over 146 

Total 21,218 

The average membership of the age group from seven to 
twelve inclusive is 2118. This number we may consider as 
representing with approximate accuracy the annual number of 
beginners in Columbus. Referring now to our table of grades we 
find that the first grade has 3718 children enrolled, and again in a 
similar way every grade up through the fifth has an enrollment 
considerably larger than the annual number of beginners. There- 
fore, we are safe in concluding that the first five grades contain 

92 



MONEY COST OF THE REPEATER 

a considerable number of repeaters. Their total membership is 
14,100. If there were no repeaters it would be only 10,590. 
The difference, or 3510, represents the number of children who 
are doing the work of their grades for the second time. This 
is 16.5 per cent of the total membership of the schools. Columbus 
expended on her school system during the year $674,650. 16.5 
per cent of this sum is $111,317. This is the amount that it 
cost Columbus during the year 1905-6 to have her lower grades 
crowded with children who were doing the work for the second 
or third time. 

The more important arguments that may be brought against 
this line of reasoning are two. First, the repeaters are not con- 
fined to the lower grades. A few a very few pupils get to 
the seventh or eighth grade, fail of promotion and repeat the work 
of the grade. It is even conceivable that a pupil might get as 
far as the last year in the high school and take the year's work 
twice. "There are a few repeaters in the upper grades even after 
the age of compulsory attendance is passed. This influence 
tends to make the computed cost of the repeater too low. 

On the other hand lies the second of the two arguments. 
This is, that in using the total cost of the schools as a basis from 
which to compute the cost of repetition we have included the 
expenditures for high schools, which are at a higher per capita 
rate than those for elementary schools, and this influence tends 
to make our computed cost of the repeaters too high. The answer 
to this is, that when the added cost of the high school instruction 
is distributed among all of the pupils in all the schools it becomes 
a very small factor indeed. 

We have then two factors influencing our results, one 
tending to make them too high, the other tending to make them 
too low. Both of them are small and in practice they very nearly 
counterbalance each other. 

There is some doubt as to the applicability of the system 
used in the case of Columbus to figures from other cities for the 
purpose of comparison, because the grade figures from different 
cities are gathered by different methods. In some places they 
are based on total enrollment, in others on average enrollment 
or enrollment at a given date. Can they then be made to give 

93 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

comparable results? The answer is that where the grade fig- 
ures are based on total enrollment, the age figures are also based 
on total enrollment, and so on for the other methods. Thus 
the relation between the number of children in the grades and 
the number who would be there were there no repeaters is not 
affected, and the resulting percentage which gives us the money 
cost of repeaters remains unchanged. 

In the present state of our knowledge concerning retarda- 
tion and elimination it is not pretended that our method can give 
more than a useful approximation to the facts. Exact measure- 
ment is out of the question. But, as in other cases, the only 
way to secure in the future more accurate information is to make 
the most of what we have, carefully pointing out its limitations. 
With more precise information as to the number of repeaters, 
and with more uniform financial methods determining the cost 
of instruction, we should come closer to the exact state of affairs. 

Yet there is virtue in even an approximate measure. It is 
rarely the case that in its particular application its errors all work 
in the same direction. Given this possibility, however, it fails 
in any effort to make exact comparisons when there is com- 
paratively little difference between the results. We would not, 
however, extend our comparisons beyond broad general lines, 
and within them the method we propose can be relied upon. It 
is a key which gives us access to illuminating facts showing the 
economic importance of the problem. In the Table 52 are shown 
the results obtained by applying the method to the known facts 
of grade membership, age groups and financial expenditures 
in fifty-five cities. 

The validity of the method for computing the number 
of repeaters may be checked by means of data printed in the 
published reports of three cities giving the number of pupils 
who have been more than one year in the same grade. A pupil 
who spends more than one year in one grade is a repeater. The 
cities publishing this information are Kansas City, Missouri, 
Springfield, Ohio, and Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The sub- 
stantial agreement between the computed results and the printed 
facts is shown by the following table : 

94 



MONEY COST OF THE REPEATER 

TABLE 51. COMPARISON BETWEEN COMPUTED RESULTS AND 
OFFICIAL FIGURES. 

Per cent Repeating Per cent Repeating 
(printed report) (computed) 

Kansas City 19.8 19.3 

Springfield 14.7 14.8 

Williamsport 13.1 13.3 

It is evident that our method of computation gives results 
very close to the truth. 

The conditions revealed in the table on pages 96 and 97 can- , 
not be lightly passed over or safely disregarded. In the schools of j 
these cities are more than i ,900,000 children. Of this number over I 
300,000 are repeaters. The annual cost of leading these children ; 
for the second or third or fourth time along the roads they have 
already traversed, reaches the astounding sum of thirteen and a 
half million dollars. If the school systems of these cities are 
fairly representative of American city school systems, then we 
are spending each year about twenty-seven millions of dollars 
in the wasteful process of repetition in our cities alone. 

In a broad general way we have answered the question what 
is the money cost of the repeater, and on broad general lines we 
do not hesitate to describe it as waste. Elimination of waste 
means either a decrease of effort or an increase of effectiveness 
in the effort made. We are disposed to believe that in the present 
case the latter would be the main, perhaps the exclusive, result. 
But it is one which is well worth striving for. These economic 
considerations furnish an additional motive to those who are seek- 
ing light not only upon the extent of retardation, but on its causes 
and possible remedies. 

Some expenditure for repeaters is unavoidable, but not 
all of it. It may well be questioned whether all the repetition 
in the first grade is necessary. When pupils are admitted any 
time throughout the year, there must always be some who at the 
end of the year or term cannot be promoted. But would not this 
be in large measure avoided if school authorities were to adopt the 
practice that no child, unless of school age, should be admitted 
for the first time to the first grade unless application for such 
admission were made in the first month of the school year or 
of the school term? To give a child two or three months' instruc- 

95 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 
















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MONEY COST OF THE REPEATER 



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7 97 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

tion when we know from the outset that this will have to be repeated 
is surely an avoidable waste. 

Even in the upper grades we cannot consider the money 
spent on doing again the work already done as entirely wasted, 
for we cannot be sure that such repetition is wholly ineffective 
from an educational viewpoint. But we may feel sure that more 
|/ is lost than gained by the process of repeating. If it is in the 
nature of the child to be spurred on by failure to renewed effort, 
we may be very certain that the same child would be more effec- 
tively influenced by success. The effect of retardation is only 
slight in making school expenditures greater, but potent in 
making their effectiveness painfully less. To reduce retardation 
would greatly enhance educational efficiency rather than effect 
a financial saving. 



CHAPTER IX 



CAUSES OF LEAVING SCHOOL 

THE question why pupils leave school is one that is often 
asked and seldom answered. Of course, the great ma- 
jority of them go to work, but this fact is far from being 
an explanation of their leaving school. In the case of the great 
numbers of children who leave before completing the elementary 
course, if the question asked were why they do not continue 
longer in school, the answer would be, as stated previously in 
other connections, that upon reaching the end of the compulsory 
attendance period they find themselves in the fifth or sixth grade 
instead of in the eighth and, seeing that the prospect of gradua- 
tion is remote, they leave and go to work. 

TABLE 53. CAUSES OF WITHDRAWAL OF PUPILS FROM HIGH 
SCHOOLS IN FIVE CITIES. 



Cause 


Cam- 
bridge, 
Mass. 


Bay 
City, 
Mich. 


Decatur, 
III. 


Medford, 
Mass. 


Spring- 
field, 
Ohio. 


Total 




1907 


1904 


1908 


1907 


1907 




To go to work 


16 


57 


28 


20 


5 


171 


To help at home . 


8 




. . 


. . 




8 


Poor health 


*3 


23 


2 3 


. . 


3 


89 


Failure in studies 


ii 










\T- 


Removal from city 


6 


19 


15 


II 


28 


79 


To private schools 


5 


10 


3 


6 




24 


Marriage 


i 




i 




. . 


2 


Death .... 




i 


i 






2 


Sickness in family 






14 


12 




26 


Expelled . 






4 


I 




5 


Dissatisfaction . 






16 


3 


. 


J 9 


Lack of ability . 






. . 


2 




2 


No reason . 




"s 


8 


4 


4 


24 


Miscellaneous . 




13 






43 


56 


Total 


60 


131 


IJ 3 


59 


J 55 


518 



99 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

In very few of the printed reports is any attempt made to 
analyze the reasons which cause pupils to leave school. Where 
such attempts are made we can seldom be sure whether the 
withdrawals enumerated are permanent or temporary. When 
we are told, for instance, that a certain number of children left 
school on account of sickness, we have no means of telling how 
many of them have left permanently and how many will return 
next year. 

Bearing these limitations of withdrawal statistics in mind, 
we can with profit examine the available data bearing on the 
subject which has been gleaned from school reports. Five cities 
publish figures showing withdrawals from high schools. 

In studying the table it must be borne in mind that the 
figures were gathered by different methods. It is quite possible 
that some of the reasons assigned may be given quite different 
interpretations in different cities. For these reasons, only the 
most general interpretations of the figures may safely be made. 
By adding together the figures under such headings as "To go 
to work" and "To help at home," "Poor health" and "Sickness 
in family," etc., the cases under the several causes may be grouped 
under six general headings : 

TABLE 54. REASONS FOR LEAVING HIGH SCHOOL. PERCENTAGES. 

Cause Pupils Per cent 

Work 179 34.5 

111 Health 115 22.2 

Removal 79 15.3 

Private Schools 24 4.6 

Lack of Success 32 5.1 

Other Reasons 89 17.2 

518 100.0 

More than one-third of all the cases are attributed to "work," 
either at home or outside of it. As was before explained this is 
probably often not a real reason. While pupils who leave school 
very naturally go to work, it is probably comparatively seldom 
that they are compelled to leave for the purpose of seeking work. 

Nearly one-fourth of the cases are ascribed to ill health, 
either of the pupils themselves or in their families. It is natural 
to suppose that in many of these cases the pupils return to school 

100 



CAUSES OF LEAVING SCHOOL 

after recovery. A fifth of the cases are ascribed to removal and 
transfer to private schools. In nearly all these cases it is to be 
supposed that the schooling continues in the new locations. 

Under "Lack of Success" have been grouped the cases 
found under the headings "Failure in Studies/' "Dissatisfaction" 
and "Lack of Ability" in the first table. It is noteworthy that 
the school authorities ascribe to these causes combined only 5 per 
cent of the cases. In reality it is probable that lack of success i/ 
in school studies is the greatest single cause which impels pupils [ 
to drop out of school. 

Turning now to the elementary schools we find slightly 
more data than for the high schools : 

TABLE 55. CAUSES OF WITHDRAWAL OF PUPILS FROM ELEMENTARY 
SCHOOLS IN SIX CITIES. 





Cam- 


Bay 


Deca- 


Med- 


Spring- 


Johns- 




Cause 


bridge, 
Mass. 


City, 
Mich. 


tur, 
III. 


ford, 
Mass. 


field, 
Ohio. 


town, 
Pa. 


Total 




1907 


1904 


1908 


1907 


1907 


1908 




To to go work 


39 


190 


90 


2 


1 68 


2I 5 


704 


To help at home . 
Ill health . . 


21 


1 80 


146 





114 


I0 5 


21 

545 


Removed from city 


iYs 


427 


494 


I 


4i5 


322 


1787 


To private schools 


8 


87 


37 








132 


Death . 


i 


3 


4 


I 




16 


2 5 


Sickness in family 






30 


5 






35 


Visiting . 






i? 








17 


Expelled ' . 






10 








10 


Dissatisfaction 






2 








2 


No reason 




29 


2 3 


2 


15 


S3 


122 


Miscellaneous 




28 




- 


54 




82 


Total 


197 


944 


853 


II 


766 


711 


3482 



Making in this case the same sort of general classification 
of the cases under five main heads as we made for the high school 
table we get the following: 



101 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

TABLE 56. REASONS FOR LEAVING ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS. PER- 
CENTAGES. 

Cause Pupils Per cent 

Work 725 20.8 

111 Health 580 16.6 

Removal I 7&7 5 J -4 

Private Schools 132 3.8 

Other reasons 258 7.4 

3482 100.0 

In this table removal becomes such a large factor as to 
include more than half of the cases. Work occupies a position 
of less importance, and ill health retains nearly the same impor- 
tance. 

The net results of this study of the available data bearing 
on the reasons why children leave school are slight in degree and 
unsatisfactory in nature. Until more satisfactory statistics 
are gathered and careful studies made we must content ourselves 
with the general statement that failure in school studies is fre- 
quently followed by dropping out of school as soon as the atten- 
dance law permits. This is shown by the fact that very few 
children repeat grades after passing the compulsory attendance 
period. Unless compelled to remain in school pupils who fail 
drop out. 

The data presented in this chapter have been given a place, 
not because they throw any real light on the problem of the 
specific reasons which impel pupils to leave school, for they do 
not; but rather because the question of cause is too important 
to ignore. Care has been taken to gather all of the available 
material in the printed reports. That the evidence is so incon- 
clusive in character is greatly to be regretted. It is to be hoped 
that the significance of the problem will impel students of educa- 
tional questions to give the matter more careful and searching 
study. 



102 



CHAPTER X 
THE NATIONALITY FACTOR 

THERE is no question of great national importance upon 
which the views of wise and able men are more widely 
divergent than upon the problem of immigration. Is 
the immigrant a blessing or a curse? The answers are as far 
apart as are the two words in meaning. 

After making an exhaustive study of the results of immigra- 
tion, the late General Francis A. Walker wrote, "These immi- 
grants are beaten men from beaten races, representing the worst 
failures in the struggle for existence. ***** Europe 
is allowing its slums and its most stagnant reservoirs of degraded 
peasantry to be drained off upon our soil." 

At a notable address made in Brooklyn last October, Dr.' 
Newell Dwight Hillis said, "Great is the treasure for the Republic 
through herds and flocks, through shocks of corn and sheaves 
of wheat. Great also is the wealth through vineyard and orch- 
ard, but the greatest and most unmixed good fortune that has 
come to the Republic during the year will be its crop of immi- 
grants." 

Opinions of educational authorities as to the influence 
of the foreign child in our schools differ as widely as do the opinions 
of the publicists quoted above. 

In order to realize the scope and localization of the problem 
we mus\ consider how large a proportion of our population is 
made up of those of foreign parentage and in what parts of the 
country they are to be found. 

The answers to these two questions are given in graphic 
form in the Diagram XVIII, which shows the proportion of the 
population of foreign parentage in different sections of the country 
and in the country as a whole. 

The first lesson of this surprising diagram is that the problem 
is a great one, concerning as it does a large part of all our people. 

103 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

The second lesson is, that it is a localized problem, affecting 
greatly the northern and western states and only slightly the 
southern states. In the northern and western states nearly one- 
half of all of the inhabitants are of foreign parentage, and in the 
southern states less than one-half. In the country as a whole 
about one-third of the people are of foreign parentage. 

North South North South 

Atlantic Atlantic Central Central Western 




Percent of) 

foreign V51 6 44 8 48 

parentage ) 

United States 




Per cent of foreign parentage 34 

Diagram XVIII. Population of foreign parentage in the United States, by group s 

of states. 



ILLITERACY 

Turning now to the question of the education of this third 
of our population, the first question is, "Do the schools reach 
every child?" The easiest way to answer it is through an investi- 
gation of the question of illiteracy; for we may certainly consider 
that the child who can neither read nor write has not been reached 
by the schools in any very effective way. 

In the United States as a whole there are 107 illiterates 

104 



THE NATIONALITY FACTOR 



among every 1000 persons. In Germany, Norway, Sweden and 
Denmark there are about two in every 1000. In the state of New 
York there is one illiterate in every eighteen voters. Among re- 
cruits in the German army there is one illiterate in every 2500, and 
among volunteers in the German navy one in every 10,000. 

This is striking, and what is more it is humiliating to our 
national pride. But it is still more remarkable and still more 



Per 
cent. 

75 
70 



60 



50 



40 



30 



20 



10 



SCALE 



Of Native 
Parentage 

65% 



Of Foreign 
Parentage 

72% 



Foreign 
Born 

69% 



Diagram XIX. Per cent of the white population of the United States in school 
at the ages five to fourteen. 



humiliating that in the United States as a whole, among native 
white children of native parents forty-four in every 1000 are illit- \ 
erate, while among native white children of foreign parents nmejn I 
i OOP are illiterate. * 

This pretty conclusively answers our first question, "Do 
the schools reach all the children?" They do not. But in the 
country at large they reach the child of the foreigner more gener- 
ally thanjhey do the child of the native born American. 

105 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

This conclusion has been reached from the circumstantial 
evidence based on illiteracy. It is corroborated by the direct 
evidence taken from the census showing the proportion of white 
children five to fourteen years of age in school in three different 
classes. 

As DiagramX I X shows, of the native whites of native parents 
65 per cent are in school, of the native whites of foreign parents 
72 per cent, and of the foreign whites 69 per cent. The salient 
point here is that at these ages, which correspond to the years 
of elementary school attendance, the native born Americans 

make the poorest showing. 

.'ip 

THE RACES AND RETARDATION 

Up to this point we have been referring to the immigrant 

and the school as though we were handling one problem. We 

are not. We are considering a great many different problems. 

The question of how to handle a Scotch immigrant child is very 

different from that of how to treat an Italian. The educating 

of an English boy is not at all the same task as the educating 

of a Russian. In past years we have heard a good deal of the 

changing character of our immigration that the northern races 

are sending fewer and fewer to our shores and the southern and 

western races more and more. It has been claimed that relatively 

speaking the former races were desirable and the present comers 

are undesirable. Few facts have been put forward in support of 

ijthese claims, and so far as can be ascertained none at all have 

(ybeen cited to show what races succeed best in our schools, and 

Iwhich ones worst. 

During the spring and summer of the year 1908 an investi- 
gation of the problem of the comparative success of the children 
of different nationalities in fifteen schools was made as a part of 
the investigation conducted in the public schools of New York 
City. After the 20,000 records were gathered the first step was 
to tabulate them with respect to the degree of advancement of 
the pupils in comparison with their ages. In other words, the 
records were studied to find out how many children were of normal 
age for their grades and how many were above normal age, or 
retarded. A liberal standard was adopted. All children up 

1 06 



THE NATIONALITY FACTOR 



to the age of nine years were considered as of normal age for the 
first grade. Ten was the limit in the second grade, eleven in the 
third, and so on. The result was that among 20,000 children 23 
per cent were retarded. 

In the fifteen schools a number of nationalities were repre- 
sented. When the records of the pupils were tabulated for re- 
tardation by different nationalities the results were surprising. 
The per cent of retardation among the different nationalities was 
as follows: 

TABLE 57. RETARDATION BY NATIONALITIES IN NEW YORK CITY. 

PERCENTAGES. 



Nationality 
German 
American 
Mixed 
Russian 
English 
Irish - . 
Italian. 



Per cent 
Retarded 

l6 Ji 

19 * 

19 

23 

24 

29 

36 



German 16% 



American 19% 



Mixed 19% 



Russian 23% 



English 24% 



Irish 29% 



Italian 36% 



5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 

Diagram XX. Retardation by nationalities in New York City. Percentages. 

I0 7 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

These results are not caused by merely local conditions in 
the several schools. The figures were retabulated individually 
by schools with no change of results. The Germans made every- 
where very good records, the Americans somewhat poorer ones, 
and so on down to the uniformly poor records of the Italians. 
Nor did the section of the city seem to have anything to do with it. 

Opinions may differ radically as to the significance of these 
figures and the causes of the conditions disclosed, but one thing 
is certain. In all intensive studies of retardation, the nationality 
factor is important and must be taken into account. 

THE LANGUAGE DIFFICULTY 

There is another lesson that these figures teach, and that is 
in respect to the so-called language difficulty theory, the theory 
that children of foreigners on arriving in our schools, being ignor- 
ant of the English language, lose on account of this handicap one, 
two or more years before they are able to carry the work of the 
. schools. That this theory is not substantiated by the figures from 
\ New York City is very evident from a mere inspection of the rela- 
tive position of the English and non-English speaking groups. 
The group making the best showing are the Germans who are 
non-English speaking people. Then follow the Americans, then 
the mixed and the Russians who again are non-English speaking, 
then the English and Irish whose native languagejsjinglish, and 
finally the Italians who, of course, are subject to the language 
handicap. Plainly, so far as these groups are concerned, no con- 
nection can be traced between school progress and the language 
difficulty. Nor is this new in the field of applied pedagogy. 

~~Tfie results of the investigation in New York do not consti- 
tute all of the evidence tending to show the relatively slight im- 
portance of the language difficulty in the educational assimila- 
tion of non-English speaking peoples. The experience of the 
department of education of Porto Rico in changing its schools 
from the Spanish to the English basis strongly substantiates it. 
The change was effected with little or no loss of time on the part 
of the pupils. 

In an investigation conducted by Superintendent James E. 
Bryan of Camden, New Jersey, during the school years 1904-6, 

108 



THE NATIONALITY FACTOR 

it was proved that ignorance of the English language constituted 
so slight a cause of retardation that it was not even necessary to 
include it among the causes assigned. 

Principal J. M. McCallie of Trenton, New Jersey, reported 
before the New Jersey State Conference of Charities and Correc- 
tions in 1905 that among 146 cases of badly retarded children 
studied by him in that city in only eight cases could English 
be ascribed as a cause of retardation. In this connection^ Mr. 
McCallie says, "This fact, I think, will tend to weaken the argu- 
ments so often put forth that the foreign element lacking a speak- 
ing knowledge of English is the cause, to a great extent, of so 
much backwardness in our public schools/' 



RETENTION OF AMERICANS AND FOREIGNERS THROUGH THE 

GRADES 

Thus far in the discussion of our problem we have been 
dealing with the question whether or not the immigrant is 
reached by our school system and to some degree with the manner 
in which he is reached. But we have not considered the extent 
to which he is reached. We have dealt with the fact, not with 
the degree. These two factors are not at all the same. It mayA 
well be that in a given city all of the foreigners are in school long 
enough to learn how to read and write, but that none of them stay( 
long enough to get more than the mere rudiments of the three 
R's. At the same time in the same city it may be that some of 
the Americans escape school entirely while most of them continue 
on through the high schools and eventually become leading mem- 
bers of the community. The fact that some foreigners show a 
smaller percentage of retardation than the Americans has only a 
slight bearing on this question. 

In the endeavor to shed light on the problem a thorough 
study has been made of the available data in school reports. In 
most cities the existence of the foreigner is entirely ignored, so 
far as the printed reports go, but not in all. 

Let us consider first four cities which report the number of 
foreign born in the elementary schools and in the high schools. 

109 




LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



Translating the figures into percentages and expressing the results 
graphically we have the following diagram : 

ELEMENTARY 
SCHOOLS 

HIGH 
;V; SCHOOLS 

Portland, Ore. I] 6.1% >| 3.6% 

St. Louis II 4.0% 1.1% 

Kansas City || 3.0% | 1.0% 



New Orleans 1.5% 0.5% 

Diagram XXI. Per cent that foreign born pupils are of all pupils in elementary 
and high schools in four cities. 

In Portland, Oregon, only a little more than half as large a 
proportion of foreigners is found in the high schools as in the ele- 
mentary ones; in Kansas City and New Orleans one-third; and 
in St. Louis little more than one-quarter as large a proportion. 

The lesson taught by the figures shows conclusively that 
the foreigners do not continue to the high schools in large numbers. 

The next available data come from the city of Buffalo. 
There the figures are given, not for foreign born only, but for 
native born of foreign parents as well, and so include a large pro- 
portion of the entire school population. The same tendency is 
however just as manifest. (Diagram XXII.) 

Here we see that even in the second generation those of re- 

1 10 



THE NATIONALITY FACTOR 



cent foreign extraction fail to take as extended advantage of their / 
educational opportunities as do the Americans. 



Elementary 

schools, 53% 



High Schools, 33% | 

Diagram XXII. Pupils of foreign parentage in schools of Buffalo. 

Our next results are drawn from the only two cities in the 
country which give the number of pupils hearing a foreign language 
at home, and the figures are given by grades so that we can trace 



8 




IV 



FOREIGNERS 
30 PER CENT. 



FOREIGNERS 
3 PER CENT. 



Diagram XXIII. Foreign children in the schools of Haverhill, Mass. Black 
portion represents foreigners. They are 30 per cent of all in the kindergarten 
and only 3 per cent of all in the last year of the high school. 

the process all the way. These cities are Haverhill, Massachusetts, 
and New Britain, Connecticut. (Diagrams XXIII and XXIV.) 
The result is as before. The foreigners are found in consid- 

1 1 1 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

erable numbers in the lower grades and the proportion steadily 
diminishes until it reaches very small dimensions indeed in the 
upper ones and the high school. 

Something of an improvement on these statistics are those 
published in Reading, Pennsylvania, where the children of foreign 
parentage are compared with the whole number in each grade 
from the first to the high school. (Diagram XXV.) 




FOREIGNERS 
60 PER CENT. 



FOREIGNERS 
18 PER CENT. 



Diagram XXIV. Foreigners in the schools of New Britain, Conn. Black 
portion represents foreigners . They are 60 per cent of all in the first grade and 
only 1 8 per cent in the ninth grade. 

Here again the same tendency is apparent. The children 
of foreign parentage constitute 17 per cent of the membership 
in the first grade and this percentage steadily reduces until it 
becomes 5.5 per cent in the high school. 

This brings us to our last case, that of Worcester, Massa- 
chusetts. Here we seem to have the one superintendent in the 
country who realizes the nature and importance of the problem 
and who prints figures showing the Americans, the native born 
of foreign parents, and the foreign born, all the way from the 
kindergarten to the high school. (Diagram XXVI.) 

I 12 



THE NATIONALITY FACTOR 



In the kindergarten the Americans are only 36 per cent of 
all. The proportion increases until we find them constituting 
nearly 60 per cent of the high school membership. The native 
born of foreign parents, that is, the children of immigrants, start 




Diagram XXV. Children of foreign parentage, in the schools of Reading, 
Pa. They are 17 per cent of all in the first grade and only 5.5 per cent in the 
high school. 



with 56 per cent and finish with 37 per cent. The foreign born, 
the child immigrants themselves, start with 7.3 per cent and end 
with 3.8 per cent. 

Here we have expressed in the results from one city the ten- 
dencies noted in the others. The Americans make the best show- 
8 113 



* 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

ing. The children of immigrants make the next best showing and 
the foreign born children the poorest. 

There are three possible explanations of the fact that the 
foreigners always constitute a larger proportion of the membership 
of the lower grades than they do of the upper grades and the high 
school. Either there is more retardation jimong the foreigners 
than jmiojig*lfeAmencans7 thus swelling Th^irimmbers_in y the 
lower grades; or there is more elimination among them, thus 







Diagram XXVI. School children in Worcester, Mass., showing increase 
in proportion of Americans (outlines), and decrease in proportion of children of 
foreign parentage (hatched) and foreign birth (solid black) in the upper grades 
and the high school. 

thjnnmgjihdr numbers in the upper grades; or botJLof these forces 
are operative. 

In the endeavor to discover whether any correlation exists 
between the per cent of population of foreign parentage in the 
cities studied and the per cent of beginning pupils retained to the 
final elementary grade, the figures showingHboth sets of facts 
for forty-eight cities have been tabulated together. These cities 
were ranked in the order of the per cent of pupils they retain to 
the final elementary grade. The first sixteen cities on the list 

114 



THE NATIONALITY FACTOR 

those making the best records as respects retention of pupils 
retain on the average 68 per cent. In these same cities the aver- 
age percentage of persons of foreign parentage in the population, 
according to the census, is 5^ In the second group of sixteen 
cities those making medium records the average per cent of 
pupils retained is 49, and the average percentage of foreign paren- 
tage in the populations is again 53 as in the first group. In the 
third group those making the worst records the average per- 
centages are 33 and 58 respectively. Expressing this in a table 
we may compare conditions in the three groups: 

TABLE 58. COMPARISON BETWEEN RETENTION OF PUPILS IN 
SCHOOL AND PER CENT OF FOREIGN PARENTAGE IN THE POP- 
ULATIONS, IN THREE GROUPS OF CITIES. 

A ve. Per cent of Ave. Per cent of 

Pupils Retained Persons of For- 

to Final Elemen- eign Parentage in 

tary Grade the Populations 

First group of sixteen cities ... 68 53 

Second group of sixteen cities ... 49 53 

Third group of sixteen cities 33 58 

It is very evident that Jittle or no correlation is disclosed 
between retention of pupils^ and the foreign element in the popula- 
tions of the same cities. 

Taking into consideration all of the facts which have been 
reviewed we may conclude that: 

1. While the nationality factor has a distinct bearing on 
the problems of retardation and elimination there is no evidence 
that these problems are most serious in those cities having the 
largest foreign populations. 

2. As a rule, children of foreign parentage drop out of the 
highest grades and the high school faster than do American chil- 
dren. 

3. In the United States there are more illiterates among the J 
native whites of native parerttage than among the native whites / 
of foreign parentage. 

4. In the country as a whole the proportion of children five \ 
to fourteen years of age attending school is greater among those J 
of foreign parentage and foreign birth than among Americans. ^^/ 

"5 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

5. In an examination conducted in New York City children 
of the different nationalities were found to differ radically as to 
ability in school work, the Germans making the best showing, 
the Italians the worst. 

6. Wherever studies have been made of the progress of 
children through the grades, it has been found that ignorance 
of the English language does not constitute a serious handicap. 

The whole problem of the immigrant is a vast one and one 
that continues to increase rather than to diminish. Moreover, 
it is certain that no matter what legislation may be enacted, it 
is a problem that will be of the first importance for a long time 
to come. The essentially hopeful aspect of the situation is that 
although the problem itself is increasing in magnitude, this increase 
is not so rapid as the development of our school system in scope 
and efficiency. 



116 



CHAPTER XI 

PHYSICAL DEFECTS AND SCHOOL 
PROGRESS 

ONE of the most important objects of the investigation 
conducted in the New York schools was to determine, if 
possible, the relation between physical defectiveness 
and school progress. To this end the records of the physical ex- 
aminations given the pupils by the physicians of the Board of 
Health were carefully studied in every case where they existed. 

Before coming to our own contribution, however, it seems 
wise to present the general results from three other recent studies ; 
namely, those of Dr. Walter S. Cornell and Dr. S. W. Newmayer in 
Philadelphia, and the investigation conducted by Superintendent 
James ,E. Bryan of Camden. 

DEFECTS AMONG "EXEMPT" AND "NON-EXEMPT" CHILDREN 

The results of some of Dr. Cornell's investigations were 
published in an article in the Psychological Clinic of January, 
1908. Among 219 children of both sexes from six to twelve years 
of age in one school in Philadelphia, he found: 

TABLE 59. COMPARATIVE STANDING IN STUDIES OF 219 NORMAL 
AND DEFECTIVE CHILDREN IN PHILADELPHIA. 

Average per 
cent Attained 

Normal children 75 

Average children 74 

General defectives 72.6 

Children having adenoids and enlarged tonsils .... 72 

Results showing such negligible differences as these between 
the classes will come as a surprise to those who have gathered 
their opinions on the subject from current discussion. 

In another investigation the children of five schools were 

117 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



examined for physical defects. They were divided into so-called 
"exempt" children, or those whose work had been so thoroughly 
satisfactory that they were advanced to higher grades without 
examination, and "non-exempt" or those whose work was less 
satisfactory. 

TABLE 60. PER CENT OF EXEMPT AND NON-EXEMPT CHILDREN 
HAVING PHYSICAL DEFECTS. 

Exempt N on- Exempt 

Number examined . . . .907 687 

Per cent defective .... 28.8 38.1 

Here we seem to have a showing more like the one we should 
naturally expect. The percentage of defectives is much higher 
among the "non-exempt" than among the "exempt" children. 
We are given no details, however, as to the defects found and so 
cannot tell which particular sort or sorts of defects caused the 
preponderance on the side of the "non-exempt" pupils. 

Light seems to be thrown on this question by the results of 
one of Dr. Newmayer's investigations, conducted also in the schools 
of Philadelphia, covering examinations of 5005 children of whom 
3587 were "exempt" and 1418 "non-exempt." Defects were 
found among them as follows: 

TABLE 6l. PHYSICAL DEFECTS FOUND IN EXEMPT AND NON- 
EXEMPT CHILDREN. 





EXEMPT CHILDREN 


XON-EXEMPT 
CHILDREN 


Defect 


Number 
Examined 


Per cent 


Number 

Examined 


Per cent 




3587 


IOO.O 


1418 


IOO.O 


Defective vision . 


37 1 


10.0 


171 


12.0 


Defective hearing 


49 


1.4 


29 


2.0 


Defects of nose . 


54 


J -5 


21 


J -5 


Defects of throat 


X 37 


3-8 


53 


3-7 


Orthopedic defects 


2 5 


7 


2 5 


1.8 


Mentally defective 


6 


.1 


80 


5-6 


Skin diseases . . . 


918 


26.0 


423 


30.0 


Miscellaneous 


214 


6.0 


128 


9.0 


Total 


J 774 


49.0 


930 


65.0 



118 



PHYSICAL DEFECTS AND SCHOOL PROGRESS 

With two exceptions the defects are distributed between 
the two classes with surprising equality, the brighter pupils seem- 
ing to be afflicted in just the same degree as their duller companions. 
The two exceptions occur in the cases of "mental defects" and 
"skin diseases" both of which are much more frequent among 
the less bright children. That the former should be more com- 
mon among them is of course to be expected. That they should 
be found to be suffering more commonly from skin diseases 
is probably rather to be considered a reflection of poorer home 
conditions than as having a direct connection with their mental 
aptitudes. 

In connection with the somewhat inconclusive character 
of the returns in Philadelphia the judgment of Dr. Cornell is of 
interest. He writes that he believes that the educational result 
in our public schools suffers a discount of about 6 per cent in the 
case of physically defective children. 

During 1906, Superintendent of Schools James E. Bryan 
conducted extensive investigations in the schools of Camden, 
New Jersey. In all 10,130 children were given physical examina- 
tions. 'Of these children Siiowere of normal age and 2020 
retarded. The results of the vision and hearing tests were as 
follows : 

TABLE 62. DEFECTIVE EYESIGHT AND HEARING AMONG IO,I3O 
NORMAL AND RETARDED CHILDREN IN CAMDEN, N. J. 

Normal Age Retarded 

Children Children 

Number examined 8110 2020 

Per cent having defective vision . . 27.1. 28.9 

Per cent having defective hearing. . 3.7 5.8 

Here again one .would hesitate to draw conclusions as to 
any relation between retardation and defective vision and would 
feel doubtful in the case of defective hearing. 

Among the children studied 1852 had failed of promotion 
and these children were given still further examinations. Among 
them 1279 were of normal age and 573 were retarded. The re- 
sults were as follows: 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

TABLE 63. PHYSICAL DEFECTS AMONG NORMAL AND RETARDED 
CHILDREN WHO FAILED OF PROMOTION IN CAMDEN, N. J. 

Normal Age Retarded 

Children Children 

Number examined I2 79 573 

Per cent having defective vision . . 51 40 

Per cent having defective hearing. .14 n 

Per cent having bad health ... 21 21 

Per cent attending irregularly 30 40 

This table gives still further surprises. The children of 
normal age actually show a higher percentage of defective vision 
and hearing than do the retarded ones, and the significant feature 
disclosed seems to be that irregular attendance rather than physi- 
cal defects is the important factor affecting school progress. 

Still another investigation was made to classify the causes 
of the backwardness of the 2020 children who were over age for 
their grades. The causes to which the excessive age of those 
pupils was attributed are shown in the following table: 

TABLE 64. CAUSES ASSIGNED FOR EXCESSIVE AGE. 

Cause Per cent 

Age upon starting 21.2 

Slowness 21.0 

Absence 28.5 

Dullness 12.0 

111 health 9.6 

Defects other than sight and hearing 3.9 

Mental weakness 3.7 

Two points in this table are significant: First, the results 
of the Camden investigation decidedly support the contention 
Jhat physical defects constitute a cause but not ihe cause of re- 
tardation ; secondly, that the bearing of physical defects on school 
retardation does not appear to be very great. Under the cap- 
tions "ILL HEALTH" and "DEFECTS OTHER THAN SIGHT AND 
HEARING" are found 13.5 per cent of the cases. Under "AGE 
UPON STARTING" and "ABSENCE" are found 49.7 per cent. 



IMPORTANCE OF THE AGE FACTOR 

Among the 20,000 pupils examined in the New York City 
investigation were 7608 who had been given physical examinations 

120 



PHYSICAL DEFECTS AND SCHOOL PROGRESS 



Normal Age. 


Above Normal Age. 


Per cent Defective 


Per cent Defective 


85.0 


81-3 




86.8 


84-5 




83.2 


83-3 




71.6 


74-7 




63.8 


60.2 




63.8 


61.7 




68.2 


60.2 




77.1 


75-o 


. . 79.8 


74-9 



by the physicians of the Board of Health. Of these 7608 pupils, 
6084 fell within the normal age group and 1524 in the above 
normal age group. The following table shows the percentage of 
physically defective pupils in each group by grades: 

TABLE 65. PER CENT OF NORMAL AND RETARDED CHILDREN 
HAVING PHYSICAL DEFECTS, BY GRADES. 

Grade 

First Grade 
Second Grade . 
Third Grade . 
Fourth Grade . 
Fifth Grade . 
Sixth Grade . 
Seventh Grade 
Eighth Grade . 
Total . 

Of course, the immediately striking feature of this table is 
that nearly. 80 per cent of the normal age children are found to 
have physical defects, while dnly about 75 per cent of the above 
normal age children are defective. This feature was an unlocked 
for result. The second noteworthy point is that the percentage 
of defective children in the lower grades is decidedly greater than 
in the upper grades. 

The discovery of these conditions led to further study of the 
figures. The data were retabulated by ages and the results showed 
a very marked and consistent falling off in the per cent of children 
having each sort of defect, from the age of six up to the age of 
fifteen. Defective vision alone increases slowly but steadily, with 
advancing age. The contrast between the per cent having each 
of the six commoner defects at the age of six, and the per cent at 
fifteen is shown in the following table : 



TABLE 66. PER CENT HAVING EACH DEFECT, AT AGES 


SIX AND 


FIFTEEN. 




Defect At 6 years 


At 15 years 


Enlarged glands .... 40 


7 


Defective breathing 


21 


9 


Defective vision .... 


17 


26 


Defective teeth .... 


65 


31 


Enlarged tonsils .... 


40 


14 


Adenoids 


23 


3 


121 





LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



In all these cases attention must be called to the fact that 
the decrease in the percentage of defective children is not due to 
the dropping out or leaving school of children suffering from these 
defects. This might be put forward as an explanation if we had 
to do with children above the age of compulsory attendance, or 
if the characteristic decrease did not take place until the age of 
fourteen or fifteen; but such is not the case. We have to do 
with children of from six to fifteen years of age, and the marked 
decrease begins with the eight, nine and ten year old children and 
continues steadily. As the older children in general are found in 
the upper grades and the younger children in the lower grades, 
it is not surprising that we found a larger percentage of defective 
children in the low grades than in the high grades. The rm^ 
portant fact is that defects decrease with age. 

Between boys and girls little difference in average of de- 
fects was discovered. An average of i .8 defects was found among 
the boys, and 1.6 among the girls. Tabulating the results by 
kinds of defects, however, decided differences were discovered. 
/The boys suffer much more from enlarged glands, defective 
breathing, and enlarged tonsils. The girls have much poorer 
vision and teeth. 

The results that have been discussed, showing so consistently 
as they do that retarded or above normal age pupils have fewer 
defects than do those of normal age, furnish food for careful 
thought. Were further data not available, it would be difficult 
to explain the seeming anomaly; but the data showing the 
percentage of defectives by ages are illuminating. With the 
exception of vision, the percentage of pupils found to be suffering 
from each separate sort of defect decreases rapidly as age in- 
creases. The evidence is plain that age is the important factor. 

The importance of this on all investigations into the in- 
fluence of physical defects on school progress is at once evident. 
Whether the term "retarded" is used to express a condition or an 
explanation, it will always follow from the definition itself that 
retarded children will be older than their fellow pupils in the same 
grades. Therefore, in all cases it will be true that the "backward 
pupils" will be the older pupils. 

Now, the older pupils are found to have fewer defects. 

122 



: 

\71< 



PHYSICAL DEFECTS AND SCHOOL PROGRESS 

This is true whether they are behind their grades or well up in 

their studies. Therefore, it is not surprising that we find that 80 

per cent of all children of normal age have physical defects more 

, or less serious, while only 75 per cent of the retarded children are 

\ found to be defective. This does not mean that pupils with more 

physical defects are brighter mentally. It simply means that 

retarded children are older, and that older pupils, as has been 

shown, have fewer defects. 



DEFECTS AND PROGRESS AMONG 3304 NEW YORK CHILDREN 

But what is the significance of these results as regards school 
progress? We have found that the retarded children have fewer 
defects than those of normal age and that this is true for each 
separate sort of defect with the single exception of defective 
vision. We have also seen that the older children have fewer 
defects than the younger ones except in the case of defective 
vision. On the basis of these data we can draw no conclusions 
whatever concerning school progress and physical defects even 
in the case of eyesight. 

But it is well known that in our schools there is no exact 
correspondence between grades and ages. Children of twelve 
years of age for instance are found in all the grades from the first 
to the eighth. A child of twelve in the eighth grade is unusually 
bright, one of the same age in the first grade is unusually dull. 
It is then of interest to us to discover whether the twelve year 
old child in the first grade will have more or fewer defects than 
the one in the eighth. In order to study this the records of all 
the children at the ages of ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen and four- 
teen examined in New York City were retabulated. These ages 
were taken because at all of them children are found scattered 
through the grades from the lowest to the highest. 

There were 3304 of these children. Those ten years old 
numbered 910, the eleven year old ones 842, those of twelve years 
664, those of thirteen years old 496, and of the fourteen year old 
pupils there were 392. The following table shows how they were 
distributed among the grades, and how many were suffering from 
each sort of defect : 

123 



* 



CO 
CO 

00 



3" 



l 






O w t 

oo M o 
cs cs M 





CO 
0* 



O- 

O 



vo 

W 

CG 



124 



PHYSICAL DEFECTS AND SCHOOL PROGRESS 



A child of ten in the first grade is so badly retarded that we 
may fairly call him dull and we shall be wrong in only a very few 
cases of children who entered school very late indeed. We may 
feel even more sure that a child of eleven, twelve, thirteen or 
fourteen in the first grade is dull. A child of ten in the second, 
third or fourth grade is normal. In the fifth or sixth grade he 
is bright. By making appropriate changes in the grades similar 
statements can be made for the other ages. 

Using this as a basis the records were retabulated, the 
pupils assigned among the three groups, and the results worked 
out in percentages: 

TABLE 68. PER CENT OF DULL, NORMAL AND BRIGHT PUPILS 
SUFFERING FROM EACH SORT OF DEFECT. AGES TEN TO FOUR- 
TEEN INCLUSIVE. ALL GRADES. 



- Defect * 


Dull. 
Per cent 


Normal, 
Per cent 


Bright. 
Per cent 


Enlarged glands 


20 


13 


6 


Defective vision. 


24 


25 


29 


Defective breathing . 


15 


ii 


9 


Defective teeth . 


42 


40 


34 


Hypertrophied tonsils 


26 


J 9 


12 


Adenoids . 


15 


10 


6 


Other defects . 


21 


ii 


ii 


Number examined 


407 


2588 


309 


Defects per child 


1.65 


1.30 


1.07 


Per cent not defective 


2 5 


27 


3 2 


Per cent defective . 


75 


73 


68 



Here the results are very different from those discussed so 
far. In every case, except in that of vision, the children rated 
as "dull" are found to be suffering f rom physical defects to greater 
degree than the "normal" or "bright" children. It is true that 
75 per cent of the dull children are defective as compared with 
73 per cent among the normal and 68 per cent among the bright 
children. These differences are very slight. But the defective 
dull child has on the average 1.65 defects as against 1.07 for the 
bright one. In other words the number of defectives among the 

125 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

dull children does not differ widely from the number among the 

bright ones, but the dull child is found to be much more defective 

in degree. 

That hypertrophied tonsils and adenoids have a distinct 
""bearing upon retardation seems to be clearly indicated by the 
fact that the former are found in 26 per cent of the dull children 
and only 12 per cent of the bright ones, and in the case of the 
latter the percentage falls from 15 to 6. A similar condition is 
found in the cases of enlarged glands, defective breathing and de- 
fective teeth. In each the falling of? is sharp and consistent as 
we move from the dull to the normal and bright groups. It is 
too consistent to be dismissed as accidental or non-significant. 

The case of defective vision, however, is far from being so 
clear. Found in 24 per cent of the dull pupils, 25 per cent of the 
normal ones and 29 per cent of the bright ones, it is difficult to 
account for it. We have already seen that defective vision 
increases with advancing age. A computation of the individual 
ages of the dull and bright pupils in the groups here studied shows 
that the dull ones are older than the bright ones. Nevertheless 
they have better eyesight. The explanation may be that we are 
here dealing with extreme cases. The pupils we designate as 
bright are very young indeed for their grades and in all probability 
include a number who have injured their eyes through undue use 
and strain. Even a small percentage of such cases would account 
for the difference observed. 

The computations establish in a convincing manner the 
close connection between certain physical defects and school 
progress, but they do not tell us just how great the retarding in- 
fluence is or what part the different sorts of defects contribute to 
it. To throw light on these problems computations were made 
showing the average number of grades completed by the ten year 
old pupils who were found to be free from physical defects, the 
grades completed by those suffering from enlarged glands and so 
on for each of the other kinds of defects. Similar computations 
were made for the eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen year old 
children. Finally, the central tendency for the entire group was 
ascertained. The results are illuminating. 

126 



PHYSICAL DEFECTS AND SCHOOL PROGRESS 



TABLE 69. AVERAGE NUMBER OF GRADES COMPLETED BY PUPILS 
HAVING NO PHYSICAL DEFECTS COMPARED WITH NUMBER COM- 
PLETED BY THOSE SUFFERING FROM DIFFERENT DEFECTS. CEN- 
TRAL TENDENCY AMONG 3304 CHILDREN, AGES TEN TO FOUR- 
TEEN YEARS, IN GRADES I TO 8. 

Average Number of Average Number 0} 

Defect 

No physical defects 

Enlarged glands 

Defective vision . 



Defective breathing 



Grades Completed 

4-94 
4.20 
4.94 



Grades completed by 
children having no 
defects 



Defect Grades Completed 

Defective teeth . . . 4.65 
Hypertrophied tonsils . 4.50 
Adenoids .... 4.24 
Other defects . . .4.52 



AVERAGE NUMBER 
4.94 



Grades^completed by 
children having de- 
fective vision 



Grades completed by 
children having de- 
fective teeth 



Grades completed by 
children having de- 
fective breathing 



4.94 



4.65 



4.58 



Grades completed by 
children having mis- 
cellaneous defects 



Grades completed by 
children having hyper- 
trophied tonsils 



Grades completed by 
children having ad- 
enoids 



4.52 



'4.50 



4.24 



Grades completed by 
children having en- 
larged glands 



4.20 

Diagram XXVII. Average number of grades completed by pupils having 
no physical defects compared with number completed by those suffering from dif- 
ferent sorts of defects. 

I2 7 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

The notable feature of both the table and the diagram is the 

I fact that in every case except that of defective vision the children 

(suffering from each sort of physical defect made less progress in their 

^school work than did those not so handicapped. The seriousness 

"of these handicaps in terms of percentages is shown below: 

TABLE 70. SHOWING PER CENT OF LOSS IN PROGRESS OF CHIL- 
DREN SUFFERING FROM EACH SORT OF PHYSICAL DEFECT. 

Per cent of Loss in 
\ Kinds of Defects Progress 

Enlarged glands 14.9 

Defective vision none 

Defective breathing 7.2 

Defective teeth 5.9 

Hypertrophied tonsils . . . 8.9 

Adenoids 14.1 

Other .defects 8.5 

Average 8.8 

In this table the average loss of 8.8 per cent which appears 
in the last line is not, of course, the numerical average of the 
per cents of loss corresponding to the different sorts of defects, 
but rather the general loss of progress discovered among all the 
children having physical defects. In other words, the children 
suffering from physical defects made on the whole 8.8 per cent 
less progress than did those having no physical defects. 

CONCLUSIONS 

What then shall we conclude in regard to the relation be- 
tween physical defects and school progress in the light of the differ- 
ent investigations which have been discussed? We have seen that 
in the two Philadelphia examinations the percentages of defect- 
iveness among "exempt" and "non-exempt" children are very 
similar. The Camden investigation showed very little difference 
as regards vision and hearing between retarded children and those 
of normal age. 

The New York examination shows that the retarded chil- 
dren have on the whole fewer defects than those of normal, age, 
but it goes farther than this. It establishes the important prin- 
ciple that except in the cases of vision older children have fewer 
defects, and it shows that when children who are badly retarded 
are compared with normal children and very bright children in 

128 



PHYSICAL DEFECTS AND SCHOOL PROGRESS 

the same age groups so that the diminishing of defects through 
advancing age does not enter as a factor, the children rated as | 
"dull" are found to have higher percentages of each sort of defect I 
than the normal and bright children. Here again defective vision | 
must be excepted. 

Moreover, the New York investigation gives us quantita- 
tive measures of the retarding forces of the different kinds of 
defects. In general, children suffering from physical defects^ 
are found to make 8.8 per cent less progress than do childrenyf 
having no physical defects. Children suffering from enlarged 
glands and adenoids are retarded most. Hypertrophied tonsils, 
defective breathing and defective teeth are in general somewhat 
less serious in their effects. No statistical correlation is showrT) 
between slow progress and defective vision. 

It must be remembered that these results are from a few 
schools in one city and are not presented as representing general 
or typical conditions. Moreover the same child is often suffering 
from several sorts of defects so that the figures do not really show 
the retarding influence of each sort of -defect separately. For 
instance, we find that children suffering from enlarged glands are 
retarded to about the same degree as are those with adenoids. 
But these are to a great extent the same children. Most of those 
having adenoids also have enlarged glands. Thus the figures while 
having distinct value as revealing general tendencies must not 
be interpreted as showing with precision the relative retarding 
force of each separate sort of defect. 

All of these considerations are of the first importance in the 
problem of retardation. That there is a distinct correlation be- 
tween physical defectiveness and school progress has been shown. 
The quantitative measure of the retarding force shows that it is 
only one of the factors contributing to bring about the serious 
degree of retardation which exists in our public schools. 

In studying the problems of school progress and physical 
defects we must not forget that school success is to only a limited . 
extent a true measure of real ability. It may "of ten be but an 
indication of adaptability and docility. Indeed it would not be 
surprising to find that tnTchild of perfect physical soundness and 
exuberant health had so many outside interests as to render him 
9 129 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

not particularly successful in school work, and that he found the 
rigid discipline of the school room so irksome as to cause him to 
fail of approbation by his teachers. 

If investigations prior to the one conducted last year in 
New York have failed to establish the relation between physical 
defects and progress, the explanation may well be that the in- 
vestigators have not tabulated their figures by ages and so their 
results have been vitiated by the factor of the decrease of defects 
with advancing age. Again, many of the investigations so far 
conducted have discriminated only slightly, if at all, between the 
different sorts of physical defects. 

They have grouped together all kinds from pediculosis to 
tuberculosis. Some have a direct bearing on the problem ; some 
none at all. Defective hearing undoubtedly exercises an impor- 
tant influence on a pupil's success in school, but the fact that a 
child has a club-foot has no such significance. When we find that 
"non-exempt" children in Philadelphia have many more physical 
defects than "exempt" children, and when upon further investi- 
gation we find that the difference is caused by the more prevalent 
skin diseases in the former group, we have not established 
a quantitative relation between pediculosis and progress. We 
have merely secured one more illustration of the shortcomings 
of the statistics of medical inspection. The new school hygiene 
is in many respects a new science, and like most ambitious young 
sciences it too often tries to prove too much. 

When medical inspection shows that a reasonable per cent 
of all the school children are suffering from such physical defects 
as might reasonably be thought to have some bearing on school 
progress, it is not surprising that the study of the school records 
of these pupils shows a high degree of correlation to exist between 
their marked physical defects and their school progress. But 
when all defects, however slight, are lumped together and we are 
told that 80 per cent of the children are defective, it is not strange 
that no such correlation can be shown. In so relatively definite 
a test as that for vision we find the ratio of abnormality ranging 
from 7 per cent in Bayonne to 70 per cent in Cleveland. Again, 
in a recent examination in Sioux City it was reported that 80 
per cent of the children were defective while about the same time 

130 



PHYSICAL DEFECTS AND SCHOOL PROGRESS 

1 8 per cent were reported from Minneapolis. In Chicopee, Massa- 
chusetts, out of 500 children examined only one was reported as 
having perfect teeth and he had spinal trouble. 

Where the personal equation is so important and methods 
and standards so little established as in the field of medical 
inspection, the greatest caution must be exercised in drawing 
sweeping conclusions from the figures furnished. We have shown : 

1. That physical defects decrease with age; that age is the 
important factor and must be taken into consideration in all in- 
vestigations dealing with defectiveness and school progress. 

2. It has been shown that vision does not follow the same 
rules as do the other defects. 

3. The examinations conducted in New York have shown 
higher percentages of enlarged glands, defective breathing, hy- 
pertrophied tonsils and adenoids among the dull children than 
among* the bright children. 

4. It has been demonstrated that physical defectiveness 
has a distinct and important bearing on the progress of children. 

The new hygiene has before it a great field in which it is 
destined to splendid accomplishments in conserving the physical 
soundness of the rising generations. Medical inspection through 
its detection and exclusion of contagious diseases is preventing 
much misery and saving many lives. The school doctor in his 
study of the physical welfare of the children will make easier, 
happier and more successful the lives of many thousands of pupils. 
But when this has been said the limited possibilities in this field 
have to some extent been indicated. The long yearned-for royal 
road to learning is not always to be found through the surgeon's 
knife. " It has not been demonstrated that if you cut out a child's 
tonsils, fit him with a pair of eyeglasses and clear him of adenoids 
the school term will be cut in half, the general level of education 
will surge up and the city will save millions of dollars." The old- 
fashioned virtues of industry, application, intelligence and regu- 
larity still hold sway, and among the reasons for poor scholarship 
are still to be found such old standbys as age upon starting, ab- 
sence, laziness and stupidity. 



CHAPTER XII 

IRREGULAR ATTENDANCE AS A CONTRIB- 
UTORY CAUSE OF RETARDATION 

IN the present discussion of backwardness or retardation among 
school children, it has been thoroughly demonstrated ,that 
from one-quarter to one-half of all of the children in the 
schools are below the proper grades for their ages or have 
made less progress than they should in the time they have 
attended school. Whether classified by the criterion of age or 
by that of time in school a large part of all of our school children 
are retarded. 

It has also been thoroughly demonstrated that an immediate 
result of this condition is that many children, upon reaching the 
age of fourteen or fifteen years, find themselves in the fifth or 
sixth grade instead of the eighth, and drop out without finish- 
ing. Thus it happens that a comparatively small proportion of 
the children entering our schools stay to complete the elementary 
school course. The result is that the amount of education re- 
ceived by the majority of all of our young people is painfully 
small, and the educational aims of our school system are, in a 
large measure, defeated. 

Studies of the phenomena of retardation and elimination 
have up to the present time been mostly confined to attempts at 
quantitative measurement. Most of the attempts that have been 
made to point out causes have been somewhat speculative in 
nature. Among the causes assigned late starting, ignorance of 
the English language, innate dullness, and physical handicaps 
have been particularly emphasized. Less frequently, irregular 
attendance has been mentioned as a contributory factor. It 
is the purpose of this chapter to present data showing that irregu- 
lar attendance is a large, if not the largest, factor in bringing about 
retardation. 

132 



IRREGULAR ATTENDANCE AS A CONTRIBUTORY CAUSE 

The principles underlying the commonly used measurements 
for enumerating the children reached by a school system are 
comparatively simple. The common measures are three, namely; 
total enrollment, average enrollment, and average attendance. 

Total enrollment as commonly interpreted is a statement 
of the total number of children who have been in school during 
the year for any length of time, long or short. 

Average enrollment is often stated by months. It is an 
expression of the number of children on the roll, based on the 
supposition that all remained during the entire period. It is, 
of course, always smaller than the total enrollment. 

Average attendance is computed substantially as is average 
enrollment. It is computation of the number present, based on 
the supposition that all were present during the entire time. It 
is, of course, always smaller than average enrollment. 

These three measures of attendance have come into so nearly 
universal use that they are generally accepted without question. 
A school or a system that reports 90 or 95 per cent attendance is 
thought to have made a fine record, and the figure naturally 
leads the school authorities to feel that substantially every child 
was present and receiving the benefits of instruction every day. 

How far this is from being the case is shown by comparing 
the average attendance with the total enrollment in some of our 
cities. According to the latest available figures, the relation be- 
tween them in six of our largest systems is as follows: 



TABLE 71. COMPARISON OF ENROLLMENT AND ATTENDANCE IN 

SIX CITIES. 

Total Average 

City Enrollment Attendance 

New York 1000 751 

Philadelphia 1000 695 

Chicago . . . . . . . 1000 823 

Baltimore 1000 662 

, St. Louis 1000 813 

Kansas City 1000 733 



It is plain that total enrollment, the figure almost always 
used in stating the magnitude of our public school systems, while 
appealing effectively to civic pride because of generous size, does 

'33 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

not in reality give any accurate idea of how many children are 
present and receiving instruction each day. 

In nearly all systems provision is made for temporarily 
dropping from the roll the name of any pupil absent more than 
a few days. In some places the period of absence allowed before 
dropping the name is three days, in others five, and in still others, 
ten. Thus the enrollment is automatically kept just a little 
ahead of attendance and a high per cent of attendance is assured. 
The fluctuations of attendance below 100 per cent really indicate 
nothing more than that absences of a day or two have been more 
or less frequent as the case may be. 

It is obvious that such a system does not answer a question 
as to persistence of attendance. It does not tell us how many 
children have been present the entire year, and how many only 
a fraction of a year. It tells nothing about the attendance of an 
individual; whether he has been present most of the time or not. 
And yet if a child has been in attendance only half of the time it 
would plainly be vain to hope that he could be regularly promoted 
and go on with his classmates. The fluctuations from day to day 
in a given school are in reality little more than indicators of the 
clemency of the weather and the attractiveness of outside diver- 
sions. When the weather is stormy, or the circus is in town the 
attendance falls; when the sun shines and the circus leaves, the 
attendance rises. The figures tell us nothing at all as to which 
pupils and how many are always in school and the number of those 
frequently absent. 

It is probable that few school men realize how many of the 
children in their schools are present only a small fraction of the 
year. According to the last United States Census, 13,385,628 
attended school during the year 1900. Of these only 9,814,040 
attended as much as six months. This indicates that the ques- 
tion of duration of attendance is well worth looking into. 

A diligent study of school reports brings to light nine which 
give figures showing the persistence of attendance of the pupils. 
These reports are from Columbus, Ohio, 1907; Cleveland, Ohio, 
1906; Dayton, Ohio, 1907; Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1907; 
Kansas City, Missouri, 1907; New Orleans, Louisiana, 1907; 

'34 



IRREGULAR ATTENDANCE AS A CONTRIBUTORY CAUSE 

Springfield, Ohio, 1907; St. Louis, Missouri, 1907; Syracuse, New 
York, 1907; also Porto Rico, 1907. 

The figures they give are not all computed on the same basis. 
Cleveland and Porto Rico give figures showing the duration of 
enrollment, not attendance. It is impossible to discover from 
the report the basis on which the Columbus figures are computed. 
The seven other cities give figures showing the duration of atten- 
dance of all the children enrolled during the year. The figures 
showing attendance in the white district schools of St. Louis are 
as follows: 



TABLE 72. CHARACTER OF ATTENDANCE 

Days 
200 

1 80 to 200 
160 to 180 
140 to 160 
120 to 140 

100 tO I2O 

80 to 100 
60 to 80 
40 to 60 
20 to 40 . 
Less than 20 

Total 



IN 



ST. LOUIS IN 1907. 

Pupils 



32,672 

",935 
5,776 



2,656 
3,009 
3,282 
2,844 



75,73! 



It is plain that the pupils who attended 200 days were never 
absent, that those who fell within the 180 to 200 days group were 
in continual attendance with merely casual absences of a day 
or two, and that most, if not all, of the rest were absent for con- 
siderable periods, or else began late in the year or left early. 



TABLE 73. ATTENDANCE IN ST. LOUIS, 1907. 

Days 
200 . 

1 80 tO 200 

1 60 to 180 
140 to 1 60 

120 tO 140 
100 tO 120 

80 to ioo 
60 to 80 
40 to 60 
20 to 40 
Less than 20 



RELATIVE FIGURES. 

Pupils 
44 

43i 

- - 158 
. . . 76 

49 
42 

44 

35 

40 

43 

- 38 



Total 1000 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

In order to compare the conditions in the different localities 
some common basis -must be established. The easiest way to do 
this is to reduce the data to relative figures on the basis of condi- 
tions among 1000 children. When the St. Louis figures are so 
reduced they appear as expressed in Table 73. 

Now it will certainly be conceded that pupils can hardly 
hope to be promoted unless they have been in attendance during 
at least three-fourths of the school year. It is desirable then to so 
arrange our figures that we can measure attendance by fourths 
of the year. With attendance stated by groups of 20 days in a 
school year of 200 days this is impossible, but if we rearrange the 
table dividing each group in two so as to state attendance by 
groups of 10 days, instead of 20, we can divide the table into four 
groups. When this is done and each group divided in two we 
have a new table giving the same information in new form: 



TABLE 74. ATTENDANCE IN ST. LOUIS IN 1907 BY FOURTHS OF 

THE SCHOOL YEAR. 



Days 


Pupils Total 


Per cent 


200 


44 




190 to 200. 


216 




180 to 190. 


215 




170 to 1 80. 


79 




160 to 170. 


79 




150 to 1 66. 


38 671 


67.1 


140 to 150. 


38 




130 to 140. 


25 




120 to 130. 


24 




IIO tO 120. 


21 




100 to 110. 


21 129 


12.9 


90 to 100. 


22 




80 to 90. 


22 




70 to 80. 


18 




60 to 70. 


17 




50 to 60. 


20 99 


9.9 


40 to 50. 


20 




30 to 40. 


22 




20 to 30. 


21 




IO tO 20. 


.! . 19 




o to 10. 


19 101 


IO.I 



Total ic 

, 3 6 



IRREGULAR ATTENDANCE AS A CONTRIBUTORY CAUSE 

The dotted lines divide the year into fourths leaving in the 
first division those who have attended more than three-fourths of 
the time, in the second those who have been present from one- 
half to three-fourths of the year and so on. 

In the following diagram the shaded portion represents 
absences and the white attendances: 



DAYS 
PUPILS 10 30 50 70 90 110 130 150 170 190 

1000 



900 




Diagram XXVIII. Attendance in St. Louis in 1907. Shaded portion represents 
absences, white attendances. 

This explanation has been given to make clear the methods 
by which the figures from all the localities have been treated. 
The final results are shown in Table 75. 

The figures for Porto Rico and Cleveland are based on length 
of enrollment and each would occupy a lower position in the table 
if the figures gave the attendance instead. The basis of the 

'37 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



Columbus figures is uncertain. The figures for St. Louis and New 
Orleans are for white elementary schools only. 



TABLE 75. PERSISTENCE OF ATTENDANCE OF PUPILS IN DIFFERENT 
CITIES AND IN PORTO RICO. 



City 


Less than 
One-fourth 


Less than 
One-half 


Less than 
Three- 
fourths 


More than 
Three- 
fourths 


Porto Rico 


2.0 


9.2 


21.6 


78-4 


Dayton, O 


4-7 


12. 1 


23.6 


76.4 -_ 


Grand Rapids 


6.7 


14.8 


27-5 


7 2 -5 


Cleveland 


8.6 


I8. 3 


28.0 


72.0 


Springfield, O 


6-5 


13-7 


28.2 


71.8 


Syracuse 


6.2 


16.0 


29.7 


70-3 


St. Louis 


10. 1 


2O.O 


3 2 -9] 


67.1 


Kansas City, Mo. 


10.6 


20.8 


35- 1 


64.9 


New Orleans .... 


7-7 


21.3 


37-4 


62.6 


Columbus, O 


\ 6.9 


18.1 


38.6 


61.4 


Average 


7.0 


16.4 


30-3 


69.7 



The striking condition disclosed is that with the exception 
of Dayton, in no city do as many as three-fourths of the children 
attend as much as three-fourths of the school year. This is a 
radically different showing from that made by the figures published 
by some of these same cities giving the per cents of attendance 
ranging from 90 to 95. The published per cents do not disclose 
significant conditions. The figures giving attendance by periods 
of time do. 

Only three of the cities publish figures which enable us to 
compare the number of children promoted with the number 
present at least three-quarters of the time. The results are as 
follows : 



TABLE 76.- 



:OMPARISON BETWEEN PERCENTAGES OF ATTENDANCE 
AND PROMOTION IN THREE CITIES. 



City 

Springfield, O. 
Syracuse . 
New Orleans . 



Per cent Present 
at Least of the Year 



71.8 

70.3 
62.6 



, 3 8 



Per cent 

Promoted 

72.8 

64.9 

54-9 



IRREGULAR ATTENDANCE AS A CONTRIBUTORY CAUSE 

It seems obvious that we have not greatly erred in assum- 
ing that a low per cent of attendance was accompanied by a 
low per cent of promotions. The low percentages of promotion 
may surprise some since we are accustomed to read in reports of 
from 80 to 90 per cent of the pupils being promoted. The reason 
for the low figures in our table is that they are the result of com- 
paring the pupils promoted with the whole number enrolled, not 
with those enrolled on the last day of the year, which is the com- 
mon basis. 

We may now consider the relation which such low percent- 
ages of promotion have to retardation and the evil which is its 
corollary elimination. It is apparent that if considerable num- 
bers of the children entering school fail to be advanced regu- 
larly, the lower grades will become abnormally swollen by the 
damming of the stream of pupils through them. Experience 
teaches us, too, that in the upper grades the pupils who have ad- 
vanced -slowly and so are over-age will drop out before completing 
the course, thus making these grades abnormally small. 

The general rules which -govern these phenomena have been 
fully treated in a previous chapter. The first is that the number 
of children in the lower grades before the dropping out process 
begins will vary as the inverse of the rate of progress. That is, 
if we have f of the normal progress in these grades we shall have 
f of the normal number of children in each grade. To state it 
still again in terms of school administration: If we have a steady 
rate of promotion of 80 per cent we shall find 1250 pupils in the 
first grade for each 1000 new pupils entering each year. 

Another rule which is less exact and which varies in differ- 
ent localities, is that no matter what their progress we may expect 
about 10 per cent of the children to leave school upon reaching 
the age of thirteen, about 40 per cent will have left at fourteen 
years, and again about 50 per cent of these at fifteen years. 

Where these conditions hold and they do substantially as 
stated in many localities if we assume a stationary population, 
no deaths, all the children entering school at the age of seven 
and a steady rate of promotion of 80 per cent, we shall have a 
grade distribution for every 1000 children entering school as 
follows : 

'39 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

TABLE 77. HYPOTHETICAL GRADE DISTRIBUTION INFLUENCED BY 

RETARDATION AND ELIMINATION. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 1250 

Second Grade 1247 

Third Grade 1238 

Fourth Grade 1219 

Fifth Grade 1127 

Sixth Grade 905 

Seventh Grade 570 

Eighth Grade 272 

The notable characteristics of this grade distribution are 
that for each 1000 children entering school we find 1250 in the first 
grade, and only 272 reaching the eighth. Just such conditions 
as these exist in many of our cities. Where they are better it is 
usually because many children enter before the age of seven, or 
because fewer drop out at the ages of thirteen, fourteen and fifteen. 
More rarely it is because the percentage of promotion is higher. 

To summarize then we may state our conclusions in four 
propositions: 

1. Such figures as are available indicate that in our cities 
less than three-fourths of the children continue in attendance as 
much as three-fourths of the year. 

2. Irregular attendance is accompanied by a low percentage 
of promotions. 

3. Low percentage of promotions is a potent factor in bring- 
ing about retardation. 

4. Retardation results in elimination. 

In the foregoing no discussion has been attempted of the 
fact that a part of the short term attendance is due to the immi- 
gration and emigration of families into and from different cities. 
Undoubtedly many children begin the school year in one city and 
continue it in another, thus contributing to swell the figures of 
short term attendance in both places. It is undoubtedly true, 
too, that the process usually results in halting the child's progress 
for a time and often in causing him to lose a grade. 



140 



CHAPTER XIII 
PROMOTIONS 

THE school child who is not promoted does not advance. 
The problem of regular advancement of promotions bears 
the very closest relation to the problems of retardation and 
elimination. 

It is significant of the inadequacy of the study that has been 
devoted to the whole problem of the progress of school children 
through the grades, that it is with the greatest difficulty that in- 
formation concerning promotions can be gleaned from the printed 
reports. Moreover, where information is to be found it is often 
in the shape of one figure giving the per cent of promotions for 
the whole school system for the year and very often we are not 
even told on what basis this percentage was computed. 

Now it is rare indeed that the percentage of pupils promoted 
is even approximately constant throughout the grades. As a rule 
it is much lower in the first grade than in any other grade, and 
usually it increases with the upper grades. There are good reasons 
for these commonly observed characteristics. Children enter the 
first grade in many cities during all of the months of the school 
year. When they are old enough to begin school their parents 
send them and they are enrolled. This brings it about that at the 
end of the term or year a considerable number of them have been 
in attendance only a short time and are not prepared to go on to 
the next higher grade. This accounts for the lower percentage 
of promotions in the first grade. 

In the upper grades attendance is more regular, classes are 
smaller and the duller pupils drop out with each advancing grade. 
These are some of the reasons accounting for the higher per- 
centages of promotion in the upper grades. 

The per cent of pupils promoted is usually computed on the 

141 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

basis of the number enrolled on the last day of the term or year, 
but not always. It is natural that this basis should be taken, for 
we naturally compare accomplishment with possibility, and the 
child who is no longer on the roll could in no event be a candidate 
for promotion when the last day of the term is reached. 

The objection against comparing the pupils promoted with 
those enrolled at the end of the term is that the pupils who stay 
to the end are invariably much fewer in number than the total 
number enrolled during the term, and so we often get a more 
favorable showing than the facts warrant. 

A diligent study of school reports has brought to light 
promotion figures for sixteen cities. The facts are shown in per- 
centages in the tables on the following page. In all of the cases 
except that of Chicago the number of children promoted is com- 
pared with the number enrolled at the end of the term. In 
Chicago average enrollment is the basis used. 

The line of averages at the bottom of the table shows the 
characteristics already mentioned with regard to the percentages 
of promotions in lower and higher grades. The average percent- 
age of promotion in the first grade is 73. This rises to 85 in the 
third and fourth, sinks to 83 in the fifth, goes back to 85 in the 
sixth and seventh, and rises to 88 in the eighth. This is shown 
even more clearly in Diagram XXIX. 

The next significant feature revealed by a study of the table 
is that there is surprisingly little difference between the average 
promotion percentages in the elementary grades of the different 
cities. These figures are found in the final column. With the 
single exception of Wheeling all of the averages lie between 81 
and 90. 

Now while there are few quantitative standards by which 
city school systems can be compared, we know in a general way 
that we have in this list some cities that have school systems 
rated by common consent as very good. There are other cities 
which are recognized as having much poorer systems. 

Again, "promotion" is simply a term of educational ad- 
ministration which is used to denote progress of pupils from grade 
to grade. We know that pupils progress at greatly varying rates 
in these cities, for many of the cities have considerably more re- 

142 



PROMOTIONS 



tarded pupils than do others. The question arises why it is that 
we find the promotion percentages so nearly uniform. 

TABLE 78. PROMOTIONS IN SIXTEEN CITIES. PERCENTAGES. 





Grade 


ii 


City 




i^ 3 




K123456789 


M 


Chicago, 1906 


76 


73 


86 


87 


87 


82 


84 


82 


89 




8 4 


Cincinnati, 1907 . 




7 1 


81 


81 


81 


85 


86 


86 


89 




83 


Fort Wayne, Feb., 1907 




7 1 


89 


87 


85 


82 


88 


85 


84 




8 4 


Fort Wayne, June, 1907 




68 


86 


86 


85 


83 


88 


84 


88 




84 


Haverhill, 1907 




85 


9 1 


9 1 


92 


9 1 


88 


92 


93 


96 


90 


Louisville, 1905 . 




83 


87 


86 


89 


84 


83 


87 


92 




86 


Maiden, 1907 




77 




92 


9 1 


92 


92 


88 


89 


97 


89 


Medford, 1907 . . . 




79 


86 


95 


92 


89 




92 


95 


92 


90 


New York, Jan., 1907 . 


37 


70 


81 


81 


82 


79 


80 


81 


83 




81 


New York, June, 1907 


53 


74 


83 


83 


82 


82 


81 


80 


84 




81 


Philadelphia, 1908 




78 


81 


82 


83 


79 


83 


84 


84 




82 


Providence, 1908 . 




86- 


93 


88 


89 


83 


81 


79 


88 




86 


Salt Lake City, 1907 . 




78 


82 


85 


82 


84 


87 


86 


93 


84 


84 


Somerville, 1907 . 




83 


88 


91 


90 


92 


87 


87 


93 


94 


89 


Springfield, O., 1907 . 




81 


84 


82 


84 


86 


83 


89 


97 




86 


Wheeling, 1907 




45 


64 


72 


69 


57 


75 


77 






66 


Wilkes Barre, 1905 




55 


94 


95 


96 


93 


89 


86 


78 




86 


Williamsport, 1908 




73 


80 


76 


78 


80 


84 


86 


90 


93 


82 


Averages, each grade 


55 


73 


83 


85 


85 


83 


85 


85 


88 


93 


84 



TABLE 78. (Continued.) PROMOTIONS IN HIGH SCHOOLS OF FOUR 

OF THE ABOVE SIXTEEN CITIES. 





Year 


City 






I II III IV 


Chicago, 1906 . . . 


65 


66 


73 


89 


Cincinnati, 1907 


79 


79 


88 


TOO 


Louisville, 1905 


7i 


70 


82 


80 


Springfield, O., 1907 . 


5 


79 


84 


91 


Averages 


75 


73 


81 


90 



One answer to this question may be reached by studying 

143 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



briefly the great influence exerted by a slight difference in the 
percentage of promotion. We are not accustomed to consider 
such differences as significant when they are slight. In a general 
way we feel that if a school system has a record of promotions of 
85 per cent it has done well, and that if another system has a 
record of 80 per cent it too has not only done well, but nearly as 
well as the first system. 

It is worth while to investigate the validity of this assump- 
tion. In the diagram shown below we have the average percent- 
ages of promotion for the several grades. If 1000 pupils begin 



GRADES 



HIGH SCHOOL 



100 
90 
80 
70 
60 
50 
40 
30 
20 
10 


K 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 I II III IV 












































88 








90 






83. 


85 

- 


O-5 

1 1 , 


83 

i 


5 

.i 


85, 


*\ 


je 




^ 


S 




"/ 
















^ 


23> 






CfrJ 


f 
























J ^7 





























































































































































PER 
CENT 

Diagram XXIX. Average Promotion Rates from records of sixteen cities. 

school together and are promoted or fail according to these aver- 
age percentages, how many will complete eight years without 
failing; how many will fail; and what will be the aggregate 
number of failures? Moreover, how will they be distributed as to 
age and grade at the end of eight years if none drop out? The 
answers to these questions will show us the true significance of 
these promotion percentages in their practical working out. To 
obtain the information let us apply the conditions stated above to 
a supposititious case where 1000 pupils enter school each year. 
By consulting the lowest line in Table 79 we note that in 
the eighth year only 260 of the fourteen year old pupils have reached 

144 



PROMOTIONS 



the eighth grade. At the age of fourteen pupils begin to fall out 
of school in large numbers. If we should continue our table so as 
to include the ages fifteen and sixteen and allow for the dropping 
out of thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen year old pupils our 
upper grades would be somewhat larger than they are in the table, 
and contain pupils of ages varying over an even greater range. 
In other words we should thereby more closely approximate con- 
ditions found in our school systems. 

TABLE 79. SHOWING AGE AND GRADE DISTRIBUTION IN THE 
EIGHTH YEAR IN A CITY WHERE IOOO CHILDREN ENTER 
SCHOOL EACH YEAR AND ARE PROMOTED ACCORDING TO 
THE PERCENTAGES SHOWN IN THE PRECEDING DIAGRAM. 
NONE DIE AND NONE DROP OUT. 



Grade 


7 


8 


9 


4 

10 


ye 
11 


12 


13 


14 


Total 


First .- . 
Second . 
Third . 
Fourth . 
Fifth . 
Sixth . 
Seventh 
Eighth 


1 000 


280 
720 


48 
354 
598 


8 

93 

39 1 
508 


i 

22 

*37 
4 08 

432 


5 
41 
183 
412 

359 


i 

10 

62 

218 

403 

306 


80 
246 

389 
260 


!337 
H95 
1179 
1178 
1148 
1008 

695 
260 






















Total 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


TOGO 


IOOO 


8000 



In the table the 260 pupils in the eighth grade have reached 
that point without having failed. All of the other fourteen year 
old pupils have failed once or more. There are 740 of them. Of 
these the 389 pupils who are in the seventh grade have each failed 
of promotion once; those in the sixth grade have failed twice and 
so on. Computing these failures in this way for all of the fourteen 
year old pupils we get a total number of failures of 1217. 

We may now express the results of applying our average 
promotion figures to our hypothetical case in a table as follows: 

TABLE 80. RESULTS OF AVERAGE PERCENTAGES OF PROMOTION. 

Aggregate Number 

Number not Failing Number Failing of Failures 

260 740 1217 

I 45 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

The facts are startling when we reflect that they express the re- 
sults of average percentages of promotion. In general terms they 
mean that in our city schools on the average three out of every 
four pupils have failed at least once by the time the eighth year 
of school life is reached, and that the whole number of failures is 
so large as not to fall far short of averaging two for each pupil who 
has failed. Certainly the average city school system trains its 
pupils well in the habit of failure. 

If these are the average results, what are the results in the 
systems having higher percentages of promotion? In the case 
just discussed the average percentage of promotion in all the 
grades was 83. In Haverhill and Medford it is 90. Proceeding 
just as before and applying the Haverhill percentages to the case 
of 1000 pupils who enter school together each year at the age of 
seven we have in the eighth year the following distribution: 



TABLE 8l. SHOWING AGE AND GRADE DISTRIBUTION IN THE EIGHTH 
YEAR IN A SYSTEM WHERE IOOO CHILDREN ENTER EACH YEAR 
AND ARE PROMOTED ACCORDING TO THE HAVERHILL PERCENT- 
AGES. NONE DIE AND NONE DROP OUT. 



Grade 








4 


?e 








Total 




7 


8 


9 


10 


11 


12 


13 


14 




First . 


IOOO 


150 


13 


i 










1164 


Second 




850 


213 


3 1 


3 








1097 


Third . 






774 


263 


5 


7 


i 




1095 


Fourth . 








75 


298 


73 


14 


i 


1091 


Fifth . 






. . 




649 


329 


104 


21 


1103 


Sixth . 














360 


125 


1076 


Seventh 














C2 I 




804. 


Eighth 
















4.80 


<_>yi(. 
4.80 






















Total 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


IOOO 


8000 



The results here are in sharp contrast to the results dis- 
cussed above. The comparison is as follows: 



146 



PROMOTIONS 



TABLE 82. EFFECTS OF AVERAGE PROMOTION RATES AS COM- 
PARED WITH RATES OBTAINING IN HAVERHILL, MASS. 



Percentages of Promotion 


Number 
not 
Failing 


Number 
Failing 


Aggregate 
Number of 
Failures 


Average, 83% . . . . 
Haverhill, 90% 


260 
480 


740 
520 


1217 
690 



On the Haverhill standard 480 pupils out of every 1000 reach 
the eighth grade without failing; on the average standard only 
260 do so. On the average standard 740 pupils fail on the way 
from the first grade to the eighth; on the Haverhill standard only 
520. In the former case the aggregate number of failures is 1217; 
in the latter only 690. The contrasts are sharp and yet the aver- 
age of the percentages of promotion in the average case is 83, 
while in Haverhill it is 90. The difference is only 7 points, but 
the difference between the number of pupils with clear records is 
220 in each 1000. This illustrates with great clearness the im- 
portance of even slight variation in promotion percentages. 
The principle is still further emphasized by noting the results of 
promotion percentages varying from 100 down to 75: 

TABLE 83. SHOWING FOR EACH IOOO PUPILS HOW MANY DO NOT 
FAIL AND HOW MANY FAIL IN EIGHT YEARS OF SCHOOL LIFE 
AND AGGREGATE NUMBER OF FAILURES UNDER DIFFERENT 
PROMOTION PERCENTAGES. 



Percentages of 
Promotion 


Number not 
Failing 


Number 
Failing 


Aggregate 
Number of 
Failures 


100 


IOOO 


000 


ooo 


95 


734 


266 


350 


90 


478 


522 


700 


85 


320 


680 


1050 


80 


210 


790 


1400 


75 


104 


896 


1750 



These results are shown in graphic form in the following diagrams 
which forcibly illustrate the astonishing rapidity with which the 

'47 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

PROMOTION PERCENTAGES 
100 95 90 85 80 




Diagram XXX. Number failing and number not failing in eight grades in 
each 1000 pupils. In each upright column the black portion represents the num- 
ber failing. Note the rapid increase with each successive drop in promotion per- 
centage. 



Per 

cent 

Pro- Fail- 
moted ures 
100 

95 



90 700 



85 1050 



80 1400 



75 1750 



Diagram XXXI. Increase in the number of failures in eight grades among 1000 
pupils with each decrease in the per cent promoted. 

148 



PROMOTIONS 

bad effects of low percentages of promotion increase with each 
successive decrease of the percentage promoted. 

Both figures and diagrams show in striking fashion how far 
from valid is the natural and common assumption that slight dif- 
ferences in rates of promotion are of little significance. The facts 
are quite to the contrary. A promotion rate of 75 per cent is an 
entirely different matter from one of 80 per cent, and this again 
has not at all the same educational significance as a 90 or 95 per 
cent rate. 



149 



CHAPTER XIV 



THE FACTOR OF SEX 

IT is a matter of common knowledge that there are more girls 
than boys in American high schools. According to the 
figures published by the Commissioner of Education in his re- 
port for 1907, the boys constitute but 43 per cent of the high school 
membership and the girls 57 per cent. The condition is note- 
worthy because the United States is the only nation having more 
girls than boys in her secondary schools. The common explana- 
tion, and the one put forward by the Commissioner in his report, 
is that boys have superior opportunities for securing work at a 
relatively early age and so drop out of school. Plausibility is 
lent to this view by the fact that not only do more girls than boys 
enter the high schools, but a greater proportion remain to the 
final year. 

In 1907 the membership of the four classes in 7624 American 
high schools as published by the Commissioner of Education was 
as follows: 

TABLE 84. MEMBERSHIP OF 7624 AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS, 

I 9 o6-7. 



Class 


Boys 


Girls 


Total 


First Year 
Second Year 
Third Year 
Fourth Year 


137,388 
85,082 
55,45 s 
36,156 


173,296 
114,684 
77,864 
53,726 


310,684 
199,766 
133,322 
89,882 


Total 


314,084 


4i9,57o 


733,654 



When these figures are reduced to proportional numbers on 
he basis of 100 girls in the first class, the falling off in the upper 

150 



THE FACTOR OF SEX 



classes, the preponderance of girls over boys, and the better re- 
tention among the girls in the upper grades are easily seen. 

TABLE 85. MEMBERSHIP OF 7624 AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS IN 
1906-7. PROPORTIONAL NUMBERS. 



Class 


Boys 


Girls 


Total 


First Year . . . . . 


79 


100 


179 


Second Year 


49 


66 


"5 


Third Year 


3 2 


45' 


77 


Fourth Year 


20 


3 1 


5i 


Total 


1 80 


242 


422 



Or, as shown by the diagram: 



f 

1 

1 


"! n 








1 
1 


III 

a 






1 


T^ 

1 
1 


IV 






1 

1 
1 
1 


I 
1 
1 
1 
1 



Diagram XXXII. Showing the falling off of the number of boys and girls 
in the successive high school classes. Girls represented by columns in solid lines, 
boys by columns in broken lines. 

Roughly speaking, for each 100 girls who enter the high 
school there are only 79 boys. Twenty-five per cent of the boys 
who enter continue to the fourth class as compared with 31 per 
cent for the girls. This situation in the field of secondary educa- 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



tion has been the subject of extended comment but similar com- 
parisons for elementary schools have been rare. The reason has 
been that until recently we did not have grade figures from a suffi- 
cient number of school systems to allow of safe studies of grade 
variability between the two sexes. This difficulty has now been 
removed by the publication of grade figures by the United States 
Commissioner of Education. 

According to his report for 1907 the two sexes were distrib- 
uted among the grades in 752 towns and cities as follows: 



TABLE 



86. 



GRADE 



Grade 

First Grade 
Second Grade . 
Third Grade . 
Fourth Grade . 
Fifth Grade . 
Sixth Grade . 
Seventh Grade 
Eighth Grade . 



DISTRIBUTION BY SEXES IN 752 CITIES. 
1906-7. 

Boys Girls 

. 266,659 



181,241 

165,127 

143. *74 

"9.935 

9!,773 

64.39 1 



249,219 
182,444 
176,442 
165,824 
143.132 
i 2 3>525 
101,271 
75. II2 



We have seen that in the first, as in the other high school 
classes, the girls outnumber the boys. In the elementary schools 
the boys are more numerous than the girls in the first grade, but 
in the eighth grade the girls are more numerous. If we reduce 
this table also to proportional numbers, taking as a basis this 
time 100 boys in the first grade, we shall see clearly the comparison 
between the two sexes. 

TABLE 87. GRADE DISTRIBUTION BY SEXES IN 752 CITIES. PRO- 
PORTIONAL NUMBERS. 



Grade 

First Grade . 
Second Grade . 
Third Grade . 
Fourth Grade . 
Fifth Grade . 
Sixth Grade . 
Seventh Grade 
Eighth Grade . 



Boys 



67 

62 

53 
44 
34 
24 



Girls 

93 
68 
66 
62 

53 
46 
37 
28 



Here the comparison is very easily seen. There are more 
boys than girls in the first grade and more girls than boys in the 
eighth. 

152 



THE FACTOR OF SEX 

Now the sexes are substantially equal in number in the 
population. In the United States as a whole at the ages five to 
nineteen boys are only i per cent more numerous than girls. 
What then is the explanation of their decided preponderance in 
these lower grades? There is only one possible answer. Since 
the two sexes must enter school in substantially equal numbers 
but boys are decidedly more numerous in the lower grades, it 
means that there is considerably more retardation among boys 
than among girls. On the other hand girls are more numerous 
in the upper grades. This means that there is more elimination 
among boys. These conditions are shown in the following diagram 
which represents graphically the facts of the table showing the 
grade distribution of the sexes: 



r 





- 


2 

-- 


i 
h- 


2 

' | 


; 






























4 


























" 




n 


i 


^ 
























i 




























r 


- 


- 


i 


5 
























-- 


~- 


i 


7 


























_. 


i 


8 


























i 
r 


" T 



























































Diagram XXXIII. Showing the relative distribution of boys and girls in the 
elementary grades. Boys represented by columns in dotted lines, girls by 
columns in solid lines. Bovs are more numerous in the lower grades, girls in the 



upper ones. 



53 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



The conclusions respecting the relative amounts of retarda- 
tion and elimination among boys and girls may be easily tested 
by an appeal to the grade and age distribution in those cities 
which publish these figures separately for the two sexes. Careful 
search has brought to light fifteen such cases. The per cent of 
retarded pupils has in each case been calculated by the method 
explained in Chapter IV with the results shown in the following 
table: 



TABLE 



>. PER CENT OF RETARDED PUPILS AMONG BOYS AND 
AMONG GIRLS IN FIFTEEN CITIES. 









Difference in 


City 


Boys 


Girls 


Favor of the 








Girls 


i. Aurora, 1907 


20.1 


16.0 


4.1 


2. Baltimore, 1907 


48.0 


44-5 


3-5 


3. Boston, 1907 


19.0 


18.1 


9 


4. Camden, 1907 .... 


47-9 


44.8 


3-i 


5. Columbus, 1907 


39-9 


34-9 


5-o 


6. Decatur, 1908 .... 


33-4 


26.5 


6.9 


7. Erie, 1901 


61.0 


59-2 


1.8 


8. Fort Wayne, 1907. 


26.7 


20.4 


6-3 


9. Kansas City, Mo., 1908 


49-3 


47-8 


i-5 


10. Kingston, N. Y., 1908 


41-5 


35-2 


6.3 


u. Los Angeles, 1904 


41.2 


35-4 


$"* 


12. New Haven, 1908 


25-7 


25.2 


5 


13. Reading, 1907 .... 


35-5 


27-5 


8.0 


14. Trenton, 1904 .... 


34-6 


27.1 


7-5 


15. Williamsport, Pa., 1908 


32.8 


29.4 


3-4 


Average of percentages. 


37-i 


32.8 


4-3 



In every case there is more retardation among boys than 
among girls, the difference ranging from .5 per cent in New Haven 
to 8 per cent in Reading. Since the average percentage of re- 
tardation is 37.1 among boys and 32.8 among girls we may say, 
taking the percentage of retardation among girls as a basis, that 
retardation among boys is 1 3 per cent more prevalent than among 
girls. 

The second proposition which was stated as a conclusion 
drawn from the study of the grade figures published by the 
Commissioner of Education, was that there was greater elimina- 

'54 



THE FACTOR OF SEX 

tion among boys than among girls. To test this, recourse must 
be had to the grade and age figures of thirteen of the cities which 
publish their figures by sexes. The methods by which the per 
cent of beginning pupils continuing to the final grade is computed 
have been explained in the chapter on "Mortality and Survival 
in the Grades." Applying these methods of computation we 
have: 

TABLE 89. SHOWING PERCENTAGES OF BOYS AND GIRLS RETAINED 
TO THE FINAL ELEMENTARY GRADE IN THIRTEEN CITIES. 





Per Cent of Boys 


Per cent of Girls 


City 


Retained to Final 


Retained to Final 




Grade 


Grade 


i. Aurora, 1907 . . . . . 


78.9 


79.8 


2. Baltimore, 1907 


26.6 


3 x -9 


3. Boston, 1907 


63.1 


7 2 -3 


4. Camden, 1907 .... 


16.6 


18.0 


5. Columbus, 1907 . 


51.6 


58.8 


6. Decatur, 1908 .... 


77.0 


78.7 


7. Erie, 1901 


20.7 


34-o 


8. Fort Wayne, 1907 .... 


79-4 


75-4 


9. Kansas Citv, Mo., 1908 


55-5 


72.3 


10. Kingston, N. Y., 1908 . 


63.8 


84.1 


11. Los Angeles, 1904 .... 


41.7 


57-7 


12. Trenton, 1904 


33-5 


42.5 


13. Williamsport, 1908 


40.9 


54-6 


Average of percentages .... 


49.9 


58.5 



Here in every case, except that of Fort Wayne, a greater 
percentage of girls than of boys is retained to the final elementary 
grade. The percentage for boys is 49.9; for girls it is 58.5. The 
difference in favor of the girls is 8.6 points. Taking the percent- 
age of retention among boys as a basis we may say that the pro- 
portion of girls who remain in school to the final elementary grade 
is 17.2 per cent greater than that for the boys. 

Since retardation and elimination are both more severe 
among boys than among girls it follows that the number of re- 
peaters must also be greater. Computing in each case the num- 
ber of repeaters by the method described in the chapter entitled 
"The Money Cost of the Repeater" we have the following results: 

'55 



OF THE 

UNIVERSITY 

OF 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

TABLE 90. NUMBER OF REPEATERS AMONG BOYS AND GIRLS IN 
FOURTEEN CITIES. 



City 


Boys 


Girls 


i. Aurora, 1907 


156 


*55 


2. Baltimore, 1907 


9,023 


8,432 


3. Boston, 1906 


5,99! 


5,030 


4. Camden, 1907 


2,132 


2,131 


5. Columbus, 1907 


2,020 


1.513 


6. Decatur, 1908 


440 


354 


7. Erie, 1901 


1,065 


961 


8. Fort Wayne, 1907 


500 


443 


9. Kansas City, Mo., 1908 


4,247 


3,8i4 


10. Kingston, N. Y., 1908 .... 


407 


303 


n. Los Angeles, 1904 


3> I0 3 


2,425 


12. New Haven, 1908 


1,772 


i, 600 


13. Trenton, 1904 


1,083 


1,005 


14. Williamsport, 1908 .... 


373 


321 


Total 


32,312 


28,487 


Total membership of elementary schools 


141,240 


140,839 


Per cent of repeaters .... 


22.8 


20.2 



In every case there is more repeaters among the boys, more 
among the girls. The percentages are 22.8 for the former and 
20.2 for the latter. Taking the proportion of repeaters among the 
girls as a basis we find that the proportion for boys exceeds that 
for girls by 12.8 per cent. 

Since it has been shown that there is more retardation, more 
elimination and a greater number of repeaters among boys than 
among girls it follows that rates of promotion must be lower 
among them. Unfortunately it is impossible to test this satis- 
factorily because of lack of information in a sufficient number of 
cases. Only two cities have been found in which the statistics 
of promotion are so published as to permit of the comparison. 
There the results are as follows: 



TABLE 91. PER CENT OF PROMOTION AMONG BOYS AND GIRLS 

IN TWO CITIES. 



City 

Wilkes Barre, 1905 
Wheeling, 1907 



156 



Boys 
80.9 
71.0 



Girls 

81.2 
73-o 



THE FACTOR OF SEX 

While it would be distinctly unwise to draw conclusions from 
two cases, it is significant that here, as in all of the other compari- 
sons made, the result is the same conditions favor girls over 
boys. The conclusions from the comparisons between conditions 
for the two sexes may be summarized as follows: 

1. In our high schools 57 per cent of the pupils are girls and 
only 43 per cent are boys. 

2. For each 100 girls who enter there are only 79 boys. 

3. Twenty-five per cent of the boys continue to the fourth 
class as compared with 3 1 per cent for the girls. 

4. Retardation among boys in elementary schools is 13 
per cent more prevalent than among girls. 

5. The proportion of girls who remain to the final elementary 
grade is 17 per cent greater than the proportion of boys who re- 
main. 

6.. There are more repeaters among boys than among girls. 
The former exceed the latter by about 13 per cent. 

All of the results which have been discussed are most sig- 
nificant from an educational view point. In the current dis- 
cussion of what has been termed the feminization of our schools 
much has been made of alleged bad effects of too exclusively 
feminine instruction on the moral fiber and character of the boys, 
but little evidence has been brought forward to substantiate these 
claims. 

Here we have indisputable evidence that there is more re- 
tardation among our boys than among our girls in the elementary 
schools. As this condition exists before the close of the compul- 
sory attendance period it can have no relation to the alleged greater 
desire for seeking employment on the part of the boys which has 
often been put forward as an explanation of the more rapid fall- 
ing out of school of the boys. There are more repeaters among the 
boys than among the girls and the boys leave school earlier and in 
greater numbers. This latter condition arises in the elementary 
schools and continues through the high schools. The percentage 
of promotions is less among boys than among girls. 

It is impossible definitely to attribute these conditions to 

*57 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

the employment of large numbers of women teachers in our schools 
because we have no schools taught by men to use for purposes of 
comparison. We can, however, state definitely as a conclusion 
from the facts that have been presented, that our schools as they 
now exist are better fitted to the needs and natures of the girl 
than of the boy pupils. 



CHAPTER XV 



AGE THE CONTROLLING FACTOR IN 
ELIMINATION .' 

WHEN we study city school systems with reference to the 
proportion of their pupils that they retain to the 
final elementary grade we find, as shown by this study, 
the greatest diversity of results. Camden drops four out of every 
five on the way from the first grade to the eighth. Quincy, Mas- 
sachusetts, drops one and keeps four out of every five. Careful 
study of the age and grade figures shows conclusively that age is 
the deciding factor in this dropping out process. Children are not 
kept in the elementary school as a rule long after they pass the age 
of fourteen. If upon reaching that age they are ready to pass on 
to the high school many of them will do so. If on the other hand 
they are only in the fifth grade they will drop out and go to work. 
In any case they will leave the elementary school at about that age. 
This may be verified by a study of the age and grade dis- 
tribution in any city. For the present discussion, let us consider 
conditions in Cincinnati in June, 1 907. The distribution of children 
by grades and ages at that time is given in the following table: 

TABLE 92. GRADE AND AGE DISTRIBUTION IN CINCINNATI. 



Grade 


Age 


Total 




6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 1718 




1 


Q 88 


3557 


1972 


7QO 


312 


149 


82 


40 


13 


8 


3 






7914 


2 


20 


418 


IQQO 


1870 


Q 88 


467 


235 


106 


54 


18 


i 






6167 


3 




9 


3*1 


1608 


1726 


1201 


623 


323 


162 


3 2 


9 


2 


i 


6077 


4 






60 


401 


1403 


I5<^ 


1038 


622 


306 


72 


15 


I 




542i 


5 






. . 


15 


288 


III2 


1233 


1041 


592 


167 


32 


I 


i 


4482 


6 










27 


310 


943 


1209 


820 


298 


49 


4 


i 


3661 


7 












35 


273 


885 


900 


462 


117 


18 


5 


2695 


8 














24 


257 


771 


556 


210 


40 


5 


1863 


Total . 


I008 


3984 


4403 


4684 


4744 


4777 


445 1 


4483 


3618 


1613 


436 


66 


!3 


38280 



'59 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

Referring to the figures in the top row we find that there are 1397 
pupils nine years of age or older. As these statistics were gathered 
at the end of the year we may consider that these first grade chil- 
dren if they progress normally may graduate seven years from 
now. But they now range in ages from 9 to 16. Hence, they 
will be from 1 6 to 23 years of age upon graduation. 

What is the probability that they will remain in school until 
they attain these ages? An exact computation of this cannot be 
made because we have no means of finding out how many new 
pupils enter the schools of Cincinnati each year. However, we 
may approximate it by the method explained in Chapter V. We 
note that the number of children at each of the ages from eight 
to thirteen inclusive is not far from 4500. As the number of 
beginners each year cannot be far from the number of children 
who become of school age each year, we shall not be far out of 
the way if we conclude that the number of pupils annually 
entering the schools of Cincinnati for the first time is about 
4500. Now the number of children sixteen years of age or older 
in the eighth grade is only 255. That is to say, out of the children 
who enter these schools each year only one out of eighteen 
stays to graduate, if in order to do so he has to remain until he 
is at least sixteen years old. If graduation means staying in 
school until the age of seventeen, only one in 100 does so; the 
rest drop out. If graduation means staying to the age of eighteen 
only one in 900 survives. The rest fall by the wayside. 

By referring to the figures at the bottom of the table giving 
size of the age groups, it will be noted that there is a sharp falling 
off at the age of fourteen followed by successive and large diminu- 
tions at the ages fifteen, sixteen, seventeen and eighteen. Of 
course, part of this is due to the fact that many of the children 
of these ages have passed on into the high school. A large part 
of it, however, is due to the permanent dropping out of school 
of children at the ages from fourteen on. In Cincinnati practically 
no children leave school before the age of thirteen. One out of 
every five drops out at the age of fourteen. During the following 
year half of the children leave. At sixteen half of those who are 
left drop out. At seventeen there is a further falling off of 50 per 
cent. The same is true at eighteen and nineteen. 

160 



AGE THE CONTROLLING FACTOR IN ELIMINATION 

It is evident that the age of fourteen is the critical age in 
Cincinnati. The age of fourteen is not to be taken, however, 
as the universal quitting point. Cities differ very much in the 
magnetic powers of their schools over the children. In some 
cities, Wheeling for example, pupils leave in large numbers at the 
age of thirteen. In others, as in Grand Rapids, few drop out 
of the elementary schools before the age of fifteen. 

There is an even greater difference to be noted in the age 
of starting. In Cincinnati few children are found under the age of 
seven. In Boston a large part of the children begin school at 
the age of five. If a child begins school at the age of five and is 
regularly promoted he can complete the eight grades by the time 
he is thirteen; if he begins at seven he will reach the final grade at 
fifteen. Since both combinations are possible and common, the 
only way to discover whether age at starting or retention in the 
upper grades is the deciding factor in securing for a city a high 
percent-age of grade survival, is to study the facts. 

In order to do this Table 93 has been prepared which includes 
only cities which give age figures for all schools, not for elementary 
schools only. Cities have also been omitted where the number of 
children at six years of age appears to mean children of six and 
under. This leaves us thirty-seven cities to consider. These cities 
are ranked in the order of the percentage of beginning pupils con- 
tinuing to the highest grade. Decatur, where 77.4 per cent of the 
beginners survive occupies the first place, and Camden which 
carries through only 17.3 per cent occupies the other extreme. 

In this list Richmond (colored) occupies the median position. 
Nineteen cities make better showings and nineteen make poorer 
records. This is shown by the plus and minus signs in the second 
column. The third column shows in relative figures, on the basis 
of looo beginners, the number of pupils who are in school at the 
age of six. 

It will be noted that in several cases the number is more than 
looo. At first sight this appears anomalous, for we should not 
expect the number of children at the age of six to exceed the num- 
ber of beginners. The reason is that the number of beginners is 
computed by taking the average of the year groups. In the cases 
in the table where the children at six are more than 1000, it is 
ii 161 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



because the six year group happened to be larger than the average 
of the components going to make up the figure which we consid- 
ered the number of beginners. 

TABLE 93. PER CENT OF PUPILS RETAINED TO FINAL GRADE, 
NUMBER AT 6 YEARS OF AGE AND NUMBER AT 15 YEARS IN 37 
CITIES. RELATIVE FIGURES ON THE BASIS OF IOOO BEGINNERS. 



City 


Number 
Reaching 
Highest 
Grade 


Relation 
to 
Median 


Number 
at 
6 Years 


Relation 
to 
Median 


Number 
at 
15 Years 


Relation 
to 
Median 


i. Decatur 


77-4 


+ 


974 


+ 


45 1 


+ 


2. Fort Wayne 


77.0 + 


1170 


+ 


506 


+ 


3. Grand Rapids 


76.4 


+ 


1017 


+ 


818 


+ 


4. Omaha 


74-3 


+ 


1024 


+ 


554 


+ 


5. Medford 


72.2 


+ 


93 





488 


+ 


6. Richmond (white) 


71.9 


+ 


103 





449 


+ 


7. Wilmington (white) 


69.8 


+ 


56o 


+ 


595 


+ 


8. Newton 


68.9 


+ 


1026 


+ 




+ 


9. Denver 


68.8 


+ 


1166 


+ 


641 


+ 


10. Kansas City. 


67.4 


+ 


1116 


+ 


560 


+ 


ii. Springfield, O. . 


59-4 


+ 


786 





525 


+ 


12. Fitchburg 


58.2 


+ 


1015 


+ 


555 


+ 


13. New Brunswick . 


5S-i 


+ 


894 





416 


Median 


14. Columbus . 


54-8 


+ 


911 





560 


+ 


15. Portland, Me. 


54-7 


+ 


720 





665 


+ 


1 6. Chicago 


52-3 


+ 


IIIO 


+ 


34 





17. Williamsport 


47-9 


+ 


887 





444 


+ 


1 8. Louisville (white) 


46.7 


+ 


1004 


+ 


173 





19. Meriden 


46.4 


+ 


1056 


+ 


395 





20. Richmond (colored) 


46.3 


Median 


9 1 




478 




21. Dayton 


45-8 





i34 


+ 


5 11 


___ 


22. Jersey City . 


44-7. 





93 2 - 


Median 


246 





23. New York . 


42.6 





592 





292 





24. St. Louis 


42.3 





625 





4i5 





25. Cincinnati . 


41-3 





223 





464 


+ 


26. Utica . 


38.0 





802 





411 





27. Passaic 


37-2 


1 100 


+ 


227 





28. Reading 


36.2 


779 





243 


29. Paterson 


36-1 


981 


+ 


282 





30. Philadelphia 


32-4 


528 





215 





31. Wheeling 


3J-3 


950 


+ 


249 





32. Woonsocket. 


30.0 


1056 


+ 


353 





33. Baltimore 


29-3 


819 





347 





34. Newark 


28.0 


1063 


+ 


211 


35. Hoboken 


27.3 1002 


+ 


290 


36. Erie. . 


27.1 728 





34 


37. Wilmington (col.) 


26.4 


- 


895 





537 + 


38. New Orleans (white) 


25-5 





918 





286 


39. Camden 


17-3 





925 





220 



162 



AGE THE CONTROLLING FACTOR IN ELIMINATION 

In the third column the median is Jersey City with 932 
children at the age of six. The relations of the records of the 
other cities to the median are shown by the plus and minus signs 
in the fourth column. Among the cities in the upper half, twelve 
have more than the median number of children in school at six, 
and seven have less. The median itself, seven cities marked plus, 
and eleven marked minus are found in the lower half. 

It is evident that there is little correlation here between 
those beginning school early and those continuing to the highest 
grade. If all of -the cities making poor showings as regards sur- 
vivors had few children in school at the age of six, and all those 
making good showings had many at that age, we should conclude 
that age at starting was the deciding factor. As it is we can see 
little relation between the two. 

The fifth column shows the pupils remaining to the age of 
fifteen. Here the median is New Brunswick with 416. 

The sixth column shows by the plus and minus signs that 
in the upper half of the table we have the median itself, fifteen 
cities having more than the median number of children at fifteen 
and three having less. In the lower half of the table there are 
three more and sixteen less. 

Here the result is as conclusive as it was inconclusive before. 
The cities with badly shrunken final grades are the cities which 
do not retain many children to the age of fifteen. Those with 
large final grades are the ones that succeed in keeping their children 
in large numbers to that age. 

Note: These relationships may be more correctly determined by computing 
the mathematical correlations between the first and second groups and the first 
and third groups. A perfect correlation is mathematically expressed by i and a 
less perfect correlation by some high percentage of i, as .85 or .90; a low correlation 
by a small per cent, as .20 or .25; negative correlations, by minus quantities varying 
in the same way from o to -i. 

In the case in point the index of correlation may be simply and quickly 
obtained by reference to one of Pearson's simpler formulas modified by Dr. Guy 
Montrose Whipple of Cornell University. According to Pearson 



r = sin 



V ad + y'bc 

Now this formula may be brought into a more convenient form if we re- 
place the sine by the cosine of its complement. 

163 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

All of the foregoing will be rendered plainer by referring to 
Diagram XXXIV. 

In the upper of the three divisions the shaded portion repre- 
sents the percentage of pupils in each city retained to the final 
elementary grade. In the second division the shaded columns 
represent for the same cities in relative figures the number of 
children in school at the age of six. It is plain that there is no 
close correlation between the number of children at the age of six 
and the per cent of children retained to the final elementary grades. 
In this division of the diagram some of the columns are long, 
some short, entirely irrespective of the number of survivors in the 
final grade. In the third division of the diagram the shaded 
columns are proportionate to the relative figures representing the 
number of children in school at the age of fifteen. Here we see 
a general correlation between the number of children at the age 
of fifteen and the percentage of children retained to the final grade. 

The cities on the left of the diagram having large final grades 
are the cities which have many children in school at fifteen years 
of age. Those at the extreme right, which have small final grades, 
have few children at the age of fifteen. While there are several 
exceptions it is evident that there is here a distinct correlation. 



L r x ad i/bc 
7 --* y 

which we can reduce to 



C S ^ " ,/ad + S* 



\/' ad + |/ be 

If now we further simplify by substituting for the square root of the pro- 
duct of the b and c cases the percentages of cases with unlike signs (U), and for the 
square root of the product of the a and d cases the percentages of cases with like 
signs (L), we obtain Sheppard's formula: 

U 



J0 L + U " 

The results of this formula do not differ appreciably from the foregoing 
as the value of the fraction is virtually identical. 

Now, since L+U must always equal 100, and since n = 180 this formula 
may be written for greater convenience, 

r = cos U 1.8 

By applying this simplified method to the data in question we have as the 
correlation between the first series and the second .338 which is a very low correla- 
tion. Again performing the computations for the first and third series we have as 
the result .844 which is a very high correlation. 

164 




Diagram XXXIV. (1) Per cent retained to final grade in 37 cities com- 
pared with (2) per cent of beginners present at 6 and (3) per cent present at 15. 
Low correlation between (1) and (2). High correlation between (1) and (3). 

(*) Colored schools. 

.65 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



The lesson of this is that retention at the upper ages, not 
age at starting, is the deciding factor in obtaining for a city a large 
percentage of survivors in the highest grades. Why this should 
be so is not at first sight apparent. Most of our school courses 
are arranged on the supposition that a child will complete the 
elementary grades in eight years. If he starts at the age of five 
and is regularly promoted he will graduate at the age of thirteen. 
Beginning at six he will finish at fourteen, and so on. Thus it 
would seem that the way to insure a large number reaching the 
final grade before the characteristic exodus at fourteen would be 
to have them start early. And yet our figures show that age at 
starting is not the controlling factor. 

Light is thrown on this seeming paradox by studies made of 
the school records of pupils in the schools of the city of New York. 
Complete transcripts of the school histories of 269 eighth grade 
pupils who were about to graduate were secured. Comparing 
the ages at starting in the first grade and time taken to complete 
the course the following facts were disclosed: 

TABLE 94. AGE AT STARTING, TIME IN SCHOOL AND AVERAGE AGE 
OF 269 EIGHTH GRADE PUPILS IN NEW YORK CITY. 







Average Num- 




Age at Starting 


Number 


ber of Years 
Taken to Com- 


Age at Gradua- 
tion 






plete 8 Grades 




Under 5 


12 


9.62 


14.62 


5 to 6 


64 


8.86 


14.36 


6 to 7 


IJ 3 


8.61 


15.11 


7 to 8 


54 


8.44 


15-94 


8 to 9 


J 9 


8.18 


1 6. 68 


9 to 10 


7 


7.21 


16.71 


Total ..... 


269 


8.61 


i5- 2 3 



In studying this table it must be remembered that it repre- 
sents survivors only. The third column shows plainly that those 
who make rapid progress through the grades are pupils who started 
it comparatively advanced ages. Those who make slow progress 
are the pupils who begin young. On the other hand it must be 

1 66 



AGE THE CONTROLLING FACTOR IN ELIMINATION 

remembered that most of those who start late never reach the 
highest grades at all. They drop out on the way. Those who 
start young take more than normal time to make the journey but 
still they have time to arrive at the finish. The facts of the table 
are graphically shown in the following diagram: 



Children starting under 5 
take 9.6 years to complete 
8 grades. 

Children starting from 5 to 

6 take 8.9 years to complete 
8 grades. 

Children starting from 6 to 

7 take 8.6 years to complete 

8 grades. 

Children starting from 7 to 
8 take 8.4 years to complete 

8 grades: 

Children starting from 8 to 

9 take 8.2 years to complete 
8 grades. 

Children starting from 9 to 

10 take 7.2 years to com- 
plete 8 grades. 

Diagram XXXV. Age at starting and time in school of 269 eighth grade pupils 

in New York City. 

On account of the educational significance of the facts dis- 
closed by the study of the school histories of the eighth grade 
pupils, a further investigation was made of the records of 967 
fifth grade pupils. The facts as to age at starting and time in 
school are as shown in Table 95. 

Not only is this corroborative of the former set of results 
but it introduces some new points of interest. In the table of 
eighth grade pupils it will be noted that the latest age at starting 
given is ten years. Here we note that a few started even as 
late as twelve years of age. No matter what their rate of progress 
these pupils never get as far as the eighth grade. They drop out 
before reaching it. 

,6 7 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



TABLE 95. AGE AT STARTING, TIME IN SCHOOL AND AVERAGE AGE 
OF 967 FIFTH GRADE PUPILS IN NEW YORK CITY. 



Age at Starting 


Number 


Average Time 
in School 


Average Age 


Under 5 


27 


7-05 


12.05 


5 to 6 


248 


6.08 


11.58 


6 to 7 


410 


5-92 


12.42 


7 to 8 


173 


5-75 


13.25 


8 to 9 


72 




13.69 


9 to 10 


3 2 


4-85 


14-35 


10 to ii 


4 


3.50 


13.50 


II to 12 


i 


3-5o 


14.50 


Total 


967 


5.86 


12.51 



[n graphic form the same facts are presented below: 

Children starting under 5 take _^__ __ i__ 

7.1 years to complete 5 grades. 



Children starting from 5 to 6 

take 6.1 years to complete 5 grades. 



Children starting from 6 to 7 

take 5.9 years to complete 5 grades. 



Children starting from 7 to 8 

take 5.8 years to complete 5 grades. 



Children starting from 8 to 9 

take 5.2 years to complete 5 grades. 



Children starting from 9 to 10 
take 4.9 years to complete 5 grades. 



Children starting from 10 to 11 
take 3.5 years to complete 5 grades. 



Children starting from n to 12 
take 3.5 years to complete 5 grades. 

Diagram XXXVI. Age at starting and time in school of 967 fifth grade pupils 

in New York City. 

1 68 



AGE THE CONTROLLING FACTOR IN ELIMINATION 

In this table it is again shown that the fastest progress has 
been made by those who started late and the slowest by those who 
started early. 

In spite of their importance none of the features mentioned 
as worthy of note in these two sets of results has the educational 
significance that attaches to another fact which they show. 
This is, that the average time taken by pupils who start at the 
usual ages or younger is more than the normal time for doing the 
grade work. This makes it difficult or impossible for them to 
finish by the time they are fourteen. The average time taken by 
pupils who start to school late, while somewhat abbreviated, is 
still so much that they too find it difficult or impossible to reach 
the final grade at the age of fourteen. 

The reason why retention at the upper ages and not age at 
starting is the controlling factor in securing a large percentage of 
survivors is that our school courses are too difficult to be com- 
pleted in eight years by the average child who starts at the age 
of five, six or seven, and our systems of grading are too in- 
flexible to permit the more mature child to make up the handicap 
he is under through late start. Thus, no matter whether children 
start early or late a large part of them will have to remain to the 
age of fifteen or sixteen in order to graduate. 

We may summarize our conclusions as follows: 

1. Age is the important factor in all studies of elimination. 

2. Cities differ widely both in respect to attracting children 
early and keeping them when they are older. 

3. Retention at the upper ages, not age at starting, is the 
controlling factor in elimination. 

4. Children who make the most rapid progress through the 
grades are those who start late and those who make the slowest 
progress are those who start early. 

5. Most of the children who start late never graduate. 
Those who start early are the ones most likely to finish. 

6. Our school courses are too difficult for the immature 
child and too long for the mature one. 



169 



CHAPTER XVI 
ARE CONDITIONS IMPROVING? 

ONE of the results of the recently awakened interest in re- 
tardation has been the assumption on the part of many 
people that the evil itself is one of recent growth in our 
schools. To some degree this conclusion has resulted from the pres- 
ent agitation in favor of vocational instruction in the grades. The 
advocates have pointed to recent economic and social trends of so- 
ciety as enforcing their arguments for vocational training, and they 
have also given prominent place to retardation, and its consequent 
evil, elimination, as constituting further reasons in support of 
their pleas. This has resulted in enforcing the natural assumption 
that retardation is an educational evil of recent development. 

Under these conditions it becomes worth while to examine 
into the truth of this assumption and to discover whether retarda- 
tion is increasing or decreasing in seriousness; and, if the latter 
be the case, if the decrease is rapid enough to warrant us in feeling 
that the matter will take care of itself if no further attention be 
paid to it. 

The data upon which to base such an investigation are 
neither easily secured nor abundant. Among the cities of the coun- 
try six have been publishing age and grade distributions for a con- 
siderable number of years. From these tables we may compute 
the percentages of retarded pupils in each city and compare recent 
conditions with those of former years. 

The conditions disclosed are not very conclusive. In Bos- 
ton the percentage of retardation has fluctuated, but there seems 
to be some indication of slight improvement. Columbus seems to 
show no decided change in the twelve years. Kansas City shows 
decided improvement. The result in Los Angeles is negative. 
Portland shows steady improvement, and Springfield continued 
and decided improvement. The general tendency, as expressed 

170 



ARE CONDITIONS IMPROVING? 



by the averages at the foot of the table, is one of general progress 
toward better conditions with no advance in the last five years. 

TABLE 96. PER CENT OF RETARDED PUPILS IN SIX CITIES FOR A 

SERIES OF YEARS. 



City 


CO 

| 

00 


I 

00 





Oi 


! 


i 


% 

1 


CO 


** 


ut 


i 


t^ 












*-" 
















Boston 
Columbus 
Kansas City, 
Mo. . 
Los Angeles 
Portland, 
Ore 


22.1 

37-5 
57-5 


21.3 
34-6 

58.7 
38.5 


19.1 
33- 2 

52-9 
37-6 


19-3 

3i-7 

53-i 
35-8 


24.3 
30.6 

51-2 

35-i 

17 6 


23 .8 
29.8 

48.7 
3 6.6 

38 6 


16.2 
3i-3 

48.9 
36.0 

38 7 


15-5 
29.7 

48.2 
36-1 

28 3 


20.3 
34-9 

49.2 
38.3 

?o i 


14.2 
38.4 

49.8 

20 8 


19.9 

37-2 
49.6 

2Q 6 


I8. 5 

37-3 
48.5 

?O 7 


Springfield, 
Mass. . 


42.5 


43-4 


41.9 


41.0 


35-2 


31.6 


30.6 


27-5 


27.6 


26.2 


24.2 


23.2 


Average" of 
the per- 
centages. 


39-9 


39-3 


36-1 


36.1 


35-7 


34-8 


33-6 


30.9 


33-8 


30.9 


3" 


3 1.6 



On account of the meagerness and unsatisfactory charac- 
ter of this evidence further data of another sort have been com- 
piled. These consist of computations of the percentage which 
the membership of the grades from the kindergarten to the fourth 
grades of different city school systems are of the entire member- 
ship of all of the elementary grades. These figures have been 
secured from forty-seven cities. In general they cover a period 
of twelve years, although in several cases the information is 
lacking for some of the years. Although but forty-seven cities 
furnish these data there are fifty cases, for we have figures from 
three of the cities giving the information separately for the white 
and colored pupils. 

Out of the fifty cases, fifteen show a higher percentage in 
the final year than in the first one. The other thirty-five show 
decreases. The figures at the bottom of the table giving the 
averages of the percentages show a gradual decrease from 69.1 
in 1895 to 65.3 in 1906, a falling off of 3.8 points in twelve years. 
This shows that there is a slow but general tendency which is 

171 



Q < 



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1-006 I 



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^ 


9-506 T 


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vo 

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NO 
NO 






M 


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VOCO O 10 CO ^ W O CO ^f CO ww OfO VOVOMVO 


NO 


S-S06I 


r o ^o i i vo . ^o . oc t^* ^t* O co vooO M Tj~ O . '-O ^o ^o 10 
\O l> t^* r^- vo *O ^O i>oO \O vo vo t*** *O O ^ O t^ vo 


NO 




t^* o\ ^ CO w ^O O w ^* s CO <*O t^* O ^* cs *O CO 


vo 


-1061 


" \O t^ t^ " vo ' \O O t^-cO O vo vo r^ r^-^O ^O * " \o i>> vo 


NO 




MrOM^NO 000 t-^M Oro ro ^ M 


NO 


1-006 I 


vo ^ ^0*0 .O .O ^ . . -t^* ^ ^t* . .vo o . . to vo <*o 
\O t^ 1 * x^* i>* ^O r-O voO t^* O 'O ^O x>* vo 


NO 




M o ^O ON -T^* T^ vo 0* ^O ro ^t" **O ^O O ^"1" O^ 


M 


00-6681 


t^**O HH ro^ C4 CJ . CO t""* . . ON CS t^ M T}~ s . . ^O CO fsr ^ 
vo^O i>* t^* r^\O *O ^ ^O voO x> t^-^O vo *O t>* vo 


58 




ON O ^* O v CO W s vo ^t" r O CO ^1" ^^O '^O ^O M 


NO 


6-868 T 


\O <*O ^t" ^ i 1 . . r^-CC . s "^ O^ . ^CO . *O ^O O vo 
\O t> *"* X>vO O ^O vo"O t^* NO vo O *O T"** vo 


S 




OOCS^OCNO X-M -0 eS ^ rroo rf 


M 


8-Z68I 


VONO t^ t^- t^ vo ' ' NO r* ' ' vo VONO t^ t^-NO vo ' ' NO r^ vo 


00 

NO 




ON t^ O ^" ^* vo H i vo ON d T^OO O ON 00 t^NO 


vo 


Z-968I 


CNI vo (N Tf t-00 . . 00 M . .00 ON NO O <"O <N . . Tf r- Tf 

VONO r^ t^ t^ vo NO t^ vo VONO oo I^^NO NO r** vo 


% 




MTt^ON^rO CCt^- M ONOO t^-OO VO t^ r^ 


H 


9-968 T 


NO NO <^ VOOO ON. .00<N . .fVOOMM . .voO^f 
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I sf 


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Averages of percentage 




t^-CC ON O M M ro ^- VONO t^OC ON O ^ <N ro ^ VONO I~^OO ON O 


I 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

by no means universal for our cities to increase the relative size 
of the enrollment in the upper grades as compared with that in 
the lower ones. 

In general we may conclude from such data as we can secure 
that the percentage of retardation is gradually growing less in our 
city school systems, and more of the children are reaching the 
upper grades. These hopeful tendencies are far from being either 
universal or decided. While they are encouraging they are so 
inconsiderable in degree as to indicate very plainly that retarda- 
tion is not an evil which will be self-eradicating if neglected. 



174 



CHAPTER XVII 

AN INDEX OF EFFICIENCY FOR PUBLIC 
SCHOOL SYSTEMS 

THE most perfect plant for converting the stored up energy 
of coal into power available for turning machinery in a 
factory, producing electricity, or driving an ocean liner is 
far from being ideally efficient. The best type of tubular boiler 
has a steam-producing power of about 66 per cent of the theoretical 
potential energy in the fuel consumed. The steam engine delivers 
about 17 per cent of the power of the steam. The two together 
when of the very highest type convert into available power about 
1 1 per cent of the theoretic potential energy stored in the fuel. 
A gas engine makes a better record of about 24 per cent of the 
theoretic efficiency. 

The principles on which such estimates are based and the for- 
mulas by which they are computed are thoroughly understood by 
engineers, and form most valuable measures by which results are 
compared and new methods checked. 

In this country there are perhaps 8,000,000 people engaged 
in the manufacturing industries. The teachers and pupils in 
our schools number about 19,000,000. Yet when we turn from the 
field of applied mechanics to that of educational administration 
the transition as regards standards and measures of comparison is 
too often from science, knowledge, and precision to conjecture, 
opinion and chance. 

It has been repeatedly asserted in defense of this condition 
that education has to do with individuals and character, which 
are not susceptible of mathematical measure, and not with objects 
and processes which may be so treated. While this contention 
has some validity when we consider individuals, it does not hold 
when we seek to compare school systems. Here where a large 
degree of comparison and measurement should be possible we 

'75 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

find a deplorable lack of standards with which to work. We know 
that many children leave school before completing the elementary 
course. Our schools are over-crowded in the lower grades and 
contain few pupils in the upper ones, but for how many educations 
the state actually pays for each one delivered no one knows. 
Our city superintendents cannot even tell us how many new pupils 
begin school each year. 

These particular features have been emphasized in this 
discussion, because if they were known for our city school systems 
we should have the necessary data for comparing the efficiency 
of the systems in so far as that is outwardly manifested. Speci- 
fically : 

1. If we can find out how many children begin school each 
year we can compute how many remain to the final elementary 
grade. Such a factor would show the relation of the finished 
product to the raw material. 

2. The number of beginners tells us of the number of children 
who under conditions of maximum theoretical efficiency should be 
in each grade. Hence we may readily calculate the size of the 
school system under ideal conditions and compare it with the 
actual size. Pursuing our industrial analogy still further, this 
gives us the relation of the actual plant in size to the theoretic 
requirements. This we may call the economic factor. 

3. Comparing not theoretical but actual size with the actual 
not theoretical product, we reach an index of efficiency which will 
express both the educational and economic results in combination 
and give us a means of rating different school systems on the basis 
of efficiency. 

To illustrate, suppose we had a factory which instead of 
utilizing all its raw material (100 per cent) embodied only 50 per 
cent in its finished product. It appears that the 50 per cent is 
the measure of its efficiency. But suppose the plant is not 
economically organized. Suppose that for a theoretical product of 
loo per cent it requires an organization represented by 4 8ooo units, 
but it actually comprises 9000 units, an organization which may 
be represented by | or 1 12.5 per cent of the standard. What then 
is its real efficiency? Its plant is f as large as it should be theo- 
retically. From the viewpoint of plant then, the efficiency is f . 



AN INDEX OF EFFICIENCY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEMS 

But its product is only \ as large as it should be. From the view- 
point of product then the efficiency is only \. 

Looking at our plant now from the two viewpoints, it is 
obvious that its efficiency is expressed by the product of these two 
fractions or -J x f = f = 44.4 per cent. 

Now suppose these conditions are found not in a factory but 
in a school system. For each 1000 children who enter only 50 
per cent reach the eighth grade. The efficiency from the view- 
point of product is \ or 50 per cent. Moreover, instead of finding 
8000 pupils in the eight grades we find 9000. From the viewpoint 
of plant the efficiency is -f or 88.8 per cent. The figure representing 
the efficiency of the school system is then \ x f = or, in terms 
of percentages, 50 per cent, x 88.8 per cent. = 44.4 per cent. 

These propositions are stated in full appreciation of the 
limited possibilities of measurement and comparison in this field. 
Cities differ as to methods, ideals, courses of study, statistical 
practice and number of grades. Moreover, designations used in 
two different cities though alike may not indicate real equality. 
Eight grades in Massachusetts may not mean at all the same thing 
as eight grades in Florida. None of these things are or can be 
taken into account by a numerical index of efficiency. What can 
be roughly measured, if we can secure the necessary data, is the 
degree to which the different cities approximate their ideal of 
furnishing elementary educations, as that is understood in each 
place, to all the children who enter the public schools. Keeping 
all of these limitations before us we may proceed to examine our 
available data. 

If we are to find out what proportion of the children entering 
school remain to the final elementary grade, the first step is to 
ascertain the annual number of beginners. Since this figure can- 
not be deduced from an observation of the grade memberships and 
is not stated in the printed reports, we must compute it from 
the figures giving the age statistics as has been explained in 
Chapter V. 

By means of this method we can find with approximate 
accuracy how many children there are in the final grade for each 
1000 beginners in all of the cities for which we have age and grade 
figures. Under ideal school conditions where all of the children 

177 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

were regularly promoted, none dropped out before finishing, 
there were no deaths and the population was stationary, it is 
evident that with 1000 beginners annually we should find 1000 
children in the first grade, 1000 in each successive grade up to the 
eighth and 8000 in the elementary schools. In similar fashion a 
seven grade system would have 7000 and a nine grade system 
9000 children. 

In such cases the index of efficiency would be 100 per cent. 
Suppose now that on the basis of each 1000 beginners we have 
the following: 

TABLE 98. GRADE DISTRIBUTION IN CLEVELAND IN 1906. 

Grade Pupils 

First Grade 1877 

Second Grade ^3^9 

Third Grade 1389 

Fourth Grade 1140 

Fifth Grade 1066 

Sixth Grade 863 

Seventh Grade ' 619 

Eighth Grade 476 

Total 8754 

Instead of 1000 pupils in the eighth grade only 476 are 
found there. Instead of 8000 in all the grades there are 8754. 
It is evident that on the educational side the output of Cleveland's 
school plant is only 47.6 per cent of what it should be. On the 
economic side the city is paying f ff|- as much as she should pay 
to have all the children finish the course. The figure which 
represents the efficiency of the school plant of Cleveland is then 

476 _:_ 8 7 5 4 r> r 476 Y 8000 380800 rr xo r npr rpn t 

TOTO 8"o~oo or TOOT x 8T5T STS-TOOU or 43-5 P er cent- 
It would now seem that we were ready to proceed to make 
similar computations for the other cities and compare our results, 
but two difficulties present themselves. In the first place the 
number in the final grade is not the only important measure of 
the amount of education given the children. Two cities may have 
equal percentages of their beginners continuing to the final grade 
and still one city may carry far more pupils to the next grade 
below the final grade than does the other. Such a case is found in 
comparing Jersey City and Salt Lake City where the membership 
of the three final grades on the basis of 1000 beginners is as follows : 

, 7 8 



AN INDEX OF EFFICIENCY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEMS 

TABLE 99. MEMBERSHIP OF FINAL THREE GRADES IN TWO CITIES. 

Grade 
City 6 7 8 

Jersey City, 1906, .... 808 545 447 

Salt Lake City, 1901 .... 949 709 449 

Again, a few cities have seven grades, a great many have 
eight grades and some have nine grades. It is evident that here 
we have a new complicating factor. The final elementary grade 
does not mean the same thing in all places. It is evident that Med- 
ford, Massachusetts, makes a much better educational record when 
she carries 722 out of each 1000 beginners to the ninth grade than 
does Richmond when she takes 719 (white) to the seventh grade. 

My correction for this is an arbitrary one. I take the average 
of the relative figures expressing the memberships of the seventh 
grade to the final grade inclusive. This I consider a measure of 
the number of children being given a substantially complete 
elementary education each year. Using the average makes for 
fairness towards those cities which carry a large part of their 
children to the next to the last grade, and it also favors nine 
grade systems over eight grade ones and these over seven grade 
systems. 

The several steps in this process of estimating efficiency are 
as follows: 

(1) Secure age and grade figures on the same basis of enum- 
eration. 

(2) Find the average of the age groups seven to twelve 
inclusive. 

This is considered the annual number of beginners. 

(3) Compute by means of relative figures on the basis of 
moo beginners the membership of the grades and their total. 

(4) Find the average of grades seven to final, inclusive 
(relative figures). 

(5) Divide the number of grades times 1000 by the total 
membership of the grades (relative figures.) 

(6) Considering the results of the two preceding steps 
(4) and (5) as percentages, find their product. 

The results obtained by performing these operations in the 
case of 58 cities where we have age and grade figures are as follows : 

179 



g 

b w 



O O 
u- u; 



W 



oo 



CO O CNI 00 PO r^ i> O- ' io 

00 O ON ON ONOO CNOC 00 



r^ M CN) oO CN CNI CM r^ ro M GO t^*oo ^NO to 10 

CO ON 00 00 ON ON ON t^OO ONOO OO OO ^ ON ON ON 



CS OO CN) ON CO CN) NO 
CO t> CN 00 ~t O ' ' O 
10 t^ t->. ' NO NO r^ ' 'to 



TfO <^5 M CN100 10<r><NNOOO O ON 
t^QNO CSOO t^-r^rfONVoON^-<NV 
00 ONCO 00 t^NO t^ t^ r~~ t^NO t^NO 



t^ "t 1/1 rf VO ^- ON 
w <N r^. ON ' O W ro 



M NO IONO r^rorOONMNO ONrO 
ON IO CNl T^-OO fO fOOO U-JCNl CNI N 
ON O ON O CO 00 ONOO t^ ONOO OO 



<Ni>.Ot^cq o M wr^H rnoo t^ t^ O H t^O t^Tt-Q^ *>. t^ ON ^t 

Tf ON M Tf TJ-OO O OO CNI M CN) CO N vn^O O CNI t-^O vo\O ro ON rOOO ^ l^ 
VOQMIHOONOO<NOOOONONOOMOOONONOON ONOO ON O ON 



l^-W 1-1 <T>VO 



ON 



W C^ 
03 O 



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uo fO M CNJ r^OO CS t^.TtPO^trOON(NOO ^-NO (N t^CO O 



T)-O 

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M oo ONOO r^ 10 ON M 10 ON CN 10 't <r> CN -<tGO 
O(NTt\Ot^Tj-CNMT)-ioror^O v Oi-<vOO 
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t^ ONO t^O t^\O \O (NO 10 10 ro 



NO 

^O ON J>-00 * 
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ON ONOO O M 10 M CN O ONOO M PO ONOO 00 
Ot^OCNOONOOON ONOO *> ON t>-00 NO 



NO -t 10 toO t^\O CN PO CN 00 M 

00 ON to M t^POONM O POt^.M 



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>PO^tM 'tPO't't^t'CN 



lOtot^toONt^-tO't ^tOO ON ON ONOO NO 't'ttoOOO CN CNr^.POONPO't t^.NO O fO O 
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cS ^^ 

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181 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

Since the figures giving the grade memberships on which the 
table is based are not all computed by the same system of enumer- 
ation, the final results are not strictly comparable. From about 
half of the cities we have figures based on the total enrollment. 
In the remaining cases the basis is average enrollment or enrollment 
at a given date. The tendency of this difference is to make the 
lower grades and the total of all grades somewhat larger in the 
cases where the total enrollment is the basis, and thus to give 
these cities slightly less favorable ratings than they would receive 
were enrollment at a given date the basis in all cases. The basij 
used for each city may be ascertained by consulting the table on 
page 55. 

The fact that the results obtained are based on data which 
are only approximately on a basis of equality should be borne in 
mind in making comparisons, especially in the cases of cities where 
the difference in the numerical ratings is but slight. An inter- 
esting comparison is obtained by grouping the cities by states 
wherever we have two or more cities in one state. There are nine 
such groups as shown in Table 101. 

It would be unprofitable to press these comparisons too 
closely. They are from a limited number of cities, and in com- 
puting the averages equal weight is given to large cities and to 
small ones. Nevertheless, the results are not without value. If 
in a broad general way it is shown that the city school systems 
of Massachusetts develop 75 per cent of their theoretic efficiency, 
and Pennsylvania and New Jersey show no better results than 43 
per cent, it is certainly a matter of deep significance to these latter 
states. 

Another interesting comparison is arrived at by grouping the 
figures for the great cities. (Table 102.) 

No claim of precision is made for these results nor of infalli- 
bility for the method by which they were reached. The method 
itself is not so refined as it could be made by utilizing more of the 
procurable data bearing on the problem. The factor of the increase 
of population which always affects grade distribution might be 
brought in to modify the final figures. Continuation to high 
schools or differences between the two sexes in continuance in 



182 



AN INDEX OF EFFICIENCY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEMS 

TABLE IOI. STATE AVERAGES OF INDEXES OF EFFICIENCY. 

Index of State 

City Efficiency Average 

New Jersey 

Camden 26.1 

Newark 33.2 

Hoboken 36.3 

Paterson 43.8 

Trenton 44-4 

Passaic 44-9 

Jersey City 45-3 

New Brunswick 55.4 41.1 

Pennsylvania 

Erie 22.6 

Philadelphia 37.9 

Reading 42.6 

York 51.6 

Williamsport 61.1 43.1 

New York 

Troy 41.9 

New York 51.9 

Utica 52.6 

Kingston 61.3 51.9 

Rhode Island 

Woonsocket 39.0 

Newport ....... 69.4 54.2 

Ohio 

Cincinnati 47-5 

Cleveland 49-9 

Dayton 56.0 

Columbus ....... 56-^ 

Springfield 63.4 

Newark . 63.7 56.2 

Missouri 

St. Louis 50.8 

Kansas City 63.2 57.0 

Connecticut . 

New Haven 57.6 

Meriden 63.9 60.7 

Illinois 

Chicago 55.1 

Decatur 64.6 

Aurora 71.9 63.8 

Massachusetts 

Lowell 62.8 

Boston 66.8 

Springfield 70.3 

Maiden 73.2 

Somerville 73.9 

Newton 75.6 

Quincy 75.6 

Medford ..:.... 81.0 

Haverhill 81.8 

Fitchburg 82.6 74.3 

183 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



school might be considered. But to complicate the method by such 
refinements means to put it out of reach of those who are most 
interested in the conditions it discloses. 



TABLE IO2. INDEXES OF EFFICIENCY OF THIRTEEN CITIES. 






Index of 




City 


Efficiency 


i. 


New Orleans 


30.6 


2. 


Newark 


. 33.2 


3- 


Baltimore 


. . . . 34.8 


4- 


Philadelphia 


. 37.9 


I: 


Jersey City 
Cincinnati 


45-3 
. 47.5 


7- 


Cleveland 


. 49.9 


8. 


St. Louis 


. 50.8 


9- 


New York . . . . 


. 51.9 


10. 


Chicago 


55-i 


11. 


Louisville 


. . . . 58.4 


12. 


Minneapolis 


. . . . 62.5 


13- 


Boston 


. 66.8 



The method as it stands is simple, easily understood, and 
may be applied by anyone. If it has not the exact precision of 
the micrometer it has a practical applicability comparable to 
measuring distance by pacing it off. 

It is not by accident or through any mere local difference in 
the method of gathering the figures that New Orleans and Newark 
show an Index of Efficiency of but little over 30 per cent as con- 
trasted with more than twice that figure for Minneapolis and 
Boston. There may be fair question whether Cleveland with 49.9 
per cent has a better school system than has Cincinnati with 47.5, 
but there can be no question that the citizens of Medford, which 
shows a result of 81 per cent, are getting more for their money than 
are those of Camden with 26.1 per cent. 



184 



CHAPTER XVIII 

REMEDIAL ME ASURES LEG I SLATI VE AND 
ADMINISTRATIVE 

SOME of the underlying conditions and direct causes of re- 
tardation and elimination have been discussed. The aim 
of the discussion has not been merely the pointing out of 
the different factors as interesting phenomena, but rather their 
study as parts of a problem which urgently calls for solution. The 
remedial measures to r Which we may look to improve existing 
conditions may be {fivided for convenience into two groups the 
first legislative and administrative, and the second having to do 
with school records and their use. The present chapter deals with 
the first of these two groups. 

( 
COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE 

In final analysis the one condition indispensable to school 
progress is attendance. In this country, as in all other countries, 
educational and state authorities are coming to see that compul- 
sory school attendance is indispensable to an enlightened demo- 
cracy. Moreover, experience teaches that it can be made effective. 
In Prussia compulsory attendance laws have been in force for 
two centuries and their effectiveness is shown by the fact that 
among recruits in the German army only one man in 2000 is 
illiterate, while among volunteers in the navy only one illiterate is 
found among each 10,000. Among native white males of corre- 
sponding ages in our own country 38 in each 1000 are illiterate. 

These figures reflect conditions in respect to our compulsory 
attendance laws and their enforcement. Thirty-nine states have 
such laws varying greatly in their requirements and in provisions 
for their enforcement. In 1900, when the latest national census 
was taken, there were approximately 8,000,000 children in this 
country at the ages from ten to fourteen. During the year 80 per 
cent of the children attended school. Twenty per cent, or about 
i ,600,000, did not attend school for any period of time long or short. 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

Conditions varied greatly in different sections of the country. 
In Haverhill, Maiden and Somerville, Massachusetts, from 93 to 
95 per cent of the children from ten to fourteen years of age 
attended school for six months or more during the year. From 
these figures the records of different localities range downward 
until we reach Atlanta, Georgia, Birmingham, Alabama, and 
Joplm, Missouri, with but 66 to 68 per cent of the children at those 
ages in school as much as six months. These figures will suffice 
to show the inadequacy of our attendance laws and the lack of 
uniformity in their enforcement. The first essential to the solu- 
tion of the problems of retardation, and elimination is to have 
compulsory attendance laws and to enforce them. 

But it is not enough to state in the legal enactment that 
children between specified ages must attend school for a given 
number of weeks each year. If we are to make sure that all of 
the children of a community get at least a specified amount of 
schooling we must secure some sort of agreement between the 
length of the school course and the number of years of required 
attendance. Curiously enough this is a point which we, in this 
country, have overlooked with astonishing frequency. By com- 
mon consent the minimum amount of education which it is safe 
to allow our young people is that of the common school course. 
This is nearly always eight grades in length. Yet in the great 
majority of cases the years of required attendance are less than 
eight. Thirty of the thirty-nine states having compulsory laws 
require fewer than eight years attendance at school. 

There is here a curious anomaly. We set up a minimum 
standard of education which the state deems necessary for its own 
safety, we pass laws to secure its attainment, and we make the 
period of compulsory attendance such that the child who enters 
when he must and leaves as soon as he may, can not by any 
possibility complete the course. This condition must be changed 
if we are to do away with elimination. Either children must be 
taken into school at an earlier age, or they must be kept to a later 
one, or the school courses must be shortened. Nor is it sufficient 
that the child's name be inscribed on the roll of some school 
during the prescribed number of months and years. If he is to 

1 86 



REMEDIAL MEASURES LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE 



*^l 

J 



o 

. 

a 
x 

U 



a 

a 



O 
O 

u 

Gfl 

u 







H 




187 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

profit by the instruction furnished he must be actually present in 
the school room. On this point American parents are too often 
over-lax and indulgent. Children are allowed to remain away 
from school on the flimsiest of pretexts, and not seldom the school 
authorities are blamed when the child who has been repeatedly 
absent fails of promotion. 

Few people realize how potent a power irregular attendance 
is in reducing the effectiveness of our schools. According to the 
latest official figures there are enrolled in our common schools 
about 17,000,000 pupils, yet the average number actually present 



Ogden Public Schools 




Ogden, Utah, 


190 


M... 




Your 




has been absent from school as follows: 




for which a sufficient excuse should be given. 






Teacher 


(WRITE EXCUSE BELOW) 






.. Parent 


SEE OTHER SIDE 





1 88 



REMEDIAL MEASURES LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE 

(Reverse of the Ogden card.} 



Rules Governing Absence and Tardiness 



7. Pupils are required in all cases of absence to bring, 
on their return to school, an excuse in writing from their 
parents or guardians, assigning good and sufficient reasons 
for such absence. The only valid excuses for such 
absence are: (i) Sickness of the pupil; (2) Sickness or 
death of some member of the family requiring the presence 
of the pupil at home or making it impossible to send the 
pupil promptly; (3) Inclement weather, when sending the 
pupil would endanger his or her health. 

8. Pupils must bring written excuse from parent or 
guardian for tardiness, unless the cause of same be known 
to the teacher. Two times tardy is equal to one-half 
day's absence. 

9. For violation of any of the foregoing rules the 
principal may temporarily suspend a pupil from school 
and thereupon shall immediately inform the parent or 
guardian of the fact and the cause therefor, and also 
report the case to the Superintendent. On second sus- 
pension of such pupil for the same offense, he shall not be 
permitted to return without a special permit from the 
Board. 



each day falls short of this figure by more than 5,000,000. As has 
already been pointed out in Chapter XII such figures as we 
have indicate that in our cities less than three-fourths of the 
children are present as much as three-fourths of the year. 

It is unreasonable to suppose that the child who does not 
attend school with reasonable regularity can be regularly pro- 
moted. Failure to advance is retardation and the result of retar- 
dation is elimination. If these two evils are to be lessened, 
attendance regulations must be made much more efficient and the 
cooperation of parents must be secured. 

189 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



There are several interesting devices which are used in 
different cities in the endeavor to enlist the interest and aid of 
parents. In Wheeling, West Virginia, a monthly attendance re- 
port (see page 187) is sent to the parents of each pupil to be 
signed and returned just as reports of standing in school studies 
are sent in many other cities. 

In Ogden, Utah, a notice on which a blank space is provided 
for writing the excuse, is sent to the parent of any child who has 
been absent. The card is then to be returned to the school authori- 
ties. On the reverse are printed the rules governing absence and 
tardiness. (See pages 188 and 189.) 

Still another card comes from Mansfield, Ohio. It is of 
special interest because it is nearly, if not quite, unique. It is a 
small card or ticket which is given to any pupil who has been 
neither absent nor tardy for a term and it entitles the holder to 
one half-day holiday. While objections might well be brought 
against such a device both on the ground that it is an undesirable 
form of prize giving and because it recognizes so frankly that the 
reward most prized by the child is permission to be absent, yet 
the device itself is so unique and suggestive that the card used is 
here reproduced. 



Mansfield, Ohio, Public Schools 

This is to Certify that 

has been neither Absent nor Tardy for the term ending 

and is therefore entitled to 

this public expression of approbation. The holder of this 
card is entitled to one-half day holiday. When the holi- 
day is taken, the card must be surrendered. 



SUPT. 



Teacher. 



190 



REMEDIAL MEASURES LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE 

THE SCHOOL CENSUS 

The first requirement of compulsory attendance is to find 
out who are the children required by law to attend school, 
where they are, and how many they are. Present American 
practice does not usually accomplish any one of these three es- 
sentials. Whatever the law may be, the usual practice is to 
furnish schools and permit parents to send their children if they 
wish to. Attendance officers are usually appointed, frequently 
by some other municipal authority than the school department, 
who are supposed to hunt around for any children of school age 
who are not in school and discover the cause. It is rare indeed 
that there is any checking up of children enumerated in the school 
census with those on the school rolls to discover which ones are 
not in attendance. In studying the printed reports of school sys- 
tems the portion which yields the least information is frequently, 
perhaps'generally, the report of the attendance officer. 

Most of our states and territories provide by statute for a 
periodical census of the population of school age. In 1900 the 
authorities of the United States Census made a study of the school 
censuses taken during that year and compared the results with the 
actual enumeration of children made by the federal agents during 
the same year. In twenty-six states and territories the number 
of children reported in the school census was less than the number 
found by the federal agents. The local authorities failed to report 
more than a third of a million children of school age, the error in 
some cases being as high as 25 per cent. In seven states the local 
agents reported a quarter of a million children more than there 
actually were, the errors of over-statement running as high as 
1 5 per cent. 

That the general unreliability of school censuses is recognized 
by the school authorities is shown by comments of superintendents 
in their printed reports. This may be confirmed by quoting a 
few typical admissions: 

Detroit "The results of the census enumeration for several 
years past has been very unsatisfactory." 

Jersey City "The utter unreliability of these returns renders 
them, as has been proved, a very unsafe guide." 

191 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

Cambridge "School returns show more children in the 
schools, public and private, than were found by the enumerators." 

Syracuse "The results of the enumeration were totally void 
of any reliable information." 

The inaccuracy of school censuses is a very serious matter, 
but its seriousness is still further enhanced by the fact that usually 
the census is a mere enumeration. That it is usually a count only 
is shown by the fact that commonly only classified totals are 
printed in the official records, no measure being provided for 
preserving the individual records or checking them up with the 
school records. The case of New Bedford, Massachusetts, is 
typical. In the report of 1908 the following information is given 
concerning the census of children between five and fifteen years 
of age in the city. 

TABLE 103. CHILDREN BETWEEN 5 AND 15 IN NEW BEDFORD, MASS., 

1908. 

Number 

Attending Public Schools 9392 

Attending Private Schools 3264 

Attending No Schools 1383 

Total 14039 

The only comment on the surprisingly large number of 
children noted as not attending any school is that they are "pre- 
sumably those who are between five and seven years of age and 
those over fourteen." 

There are four striking deficiencies in this census report. 
In the first place the number of children enumerated is less than 
the number given for the preceding year despite the fact that New 
Bedford is a rapidly growing city. Secondly, the number is 
smaller than it should be, judging from the figures of the latest 
United States Census. Thirdly, the number of children reported 
by the school census as in the public schools is decidedly less than 
the number actually enrolled in the common schools of the city. 
Lastly, the number of children reported as attending no school is 
so large that it can not possibly be made up of the children be- 
tween five and seven years of age and those over fourteen. 

Attention is called to these features of the New Bedford 
school census, not because that city is any worse off in this respect 

192 



REMEDIAL MEASURES LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE 

than other cities, but because it is typical of most American cities. 
School census figures are usually unreliable, they are rarely used 
as a basis for judging educational needs and policies and it is 
seldom that they are carefully analyzed. 

In respect to enforcing attendance we are no better off. 
Take for instance the case of Milwaukee. According to the 
report of the City Superintendent for 1907 that city has nearly 
50,000 children between the ages of seven and fourteen. All of 
them ought to be regular attendants at some school. Yet the 
figures show that there are from 4000 to 5000 children from seven 
to fourteen years of age either not in school at all or present only 
a part in many cases a small part of the time during which by 
law they are required to attend. 

To look out for such cases the city has three attendance 
officers who also are required to attend the free public evening 
lectures and to investigate the cases of applicants for free books 
furnished to indigent pupils. Is it any wonder under such con- 
ditions that truants are numbered in Milwaukee by thousands? 
And yet this case is by no means extreme among American cities. 
If we are to have regular school attendance by all pupils our 
attendance departments must be reorganized and made efficient. 

FLEXIBLE GRADING 

Ever since its beginning the system of graded schools has 
been based on the plan that at stated intervals, usually of a year, 
a reclassification of the pupils takes place, the brighter ones being 
promoted, those less bright remaining where they are and a few 
very backward ones being "demoted" into the grade below. 
This process has been bitterly attacked and condemned as the 
"lock-step" in education. In the previous chapters it has been 
shown that this term is a misnomer. There is no "lock-step" 
in the progress of pupils through the typical American city school 
system. What we do find is a system by which the brighter 
pupils move forward at the rate of a grade a year, the exceptional 
pupil sometimes gains a year and the average and dull pupils fail 
repeatedly. 

The first step toward mitigating the bad effects of failure is 
the system of half yearly promotions by which the pupil who 
J 3 193 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

fails has only to repeat half a year's work instead of that of an 
entire year. There is little doubt as to the desirability of this 
plan. It is in successful operation in dozens of cities and is 
rapidly spreading, but it is a matter for surprise that it is still 
rather the exception than the rule. 

There are a number of other plans designed to introduce 
flexibility of grading. As yet there has not been accumulated 
sufficient evidence to permit of judgment as to their relative 
advantages, or indorsement or condemnation of any one of them. 
It seems worth while, however, to describe several of them. One 
plan designed to introduce flexibility is that commonly known as 
the " Batavia system" by which the teacher gives part of her 
time to class work and part to individual work. The object here 
is not so much to provide for varying rates of progress by the 
pupils as for varying amounts of teaching according to the ability 
of the pupils. It is rather a plan to bolster up the slow pupils 
than to hurry on the quicker ones. In some places this plan calls 
for two teachers in one room, one of whom is responsible for class 
instruction, and the other for the individual work. 

Both rapid advance for the brighter pupils and special 
attention for the slower ones are provided by what is known as 
the Cambridge plan which is described in the following extract 
from the report of 1907 of Cambridge, Massachusetts: 

" In the grammar schools, special teachers are appointed to 
help such pupils as seem able to do the work in less than six years, 
and to aid those who without personal instruction would require 
more than six years. This action of the committee removes the 
most serious objection to the graded system of schools. 

"The course of study is divided in two ways: (i) into six 
sections; (2) into four sections; each section covering a year's 
work. Pupils taking the course in six years are classified in six 
grades, called the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth 
grades. Those taking it in four years are classified in four grades, 
called grades A, B, C, and D. When pupils are promoted to the 
grammar schools they begin the first year's work. 

"One division advances more rapidly than the other, and 
during the year completes one-fourth of the whole course of study. 
The other division completes one-sixth of the course. 

194 



REMEDIAL MEASURES LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE 



"During the second year the pupils in grade B are in the 
same room with the sixth grade. At the beginning of the year 
they are five months (one-half the school year) behind those in the 
sixth grade. After two or three months grade B is able to recite 
with the sixth grade, and at the end of the year both divisions 
have completed one-half the course of study the one in two years, 
and the other in three years. The plan for the last half of the 
course is the same as for the first half, the grades being known as 
the seventh, eighth, and ninth, in the one case, and as C and D 
in the other. 

"There are also two ways of completing the course in five 



Grade A 



Grade B 



Grade C 



Grade D 



> 4 years 



Middle 



Course 



^ 5 years 



/#))})}/}/ 












\ 1 


-1 


_i_ 


_J 


-1 


_l 



Fourth 1 Fifth 2 Sixth 3 Seventh 4 Eighth 5 Ninth 
Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade Grade 

Diagram XXXVII. Arrow No. i indicates the four years' course; grades A, 
B, C, D. Arrow No. 2 indicates one of the five years' courses; grades A, B, 7, 8, 9. 
Arrow No. 3 indicates the other five years' course; grades C, D, 4, 5, 6. Arrow 
No. 4 indicates the six years' course; grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. 

years: (i) any pupil who has completed one-half the course in 
two years may, at the end of that time, be transferred to the 
seventh grade, and finish the course in three years; (2) any pupil 
who has completed one-half the course in three years may, at 
the end of that time, be transferred to grade C, and finish the 
course in two years. In both cases these changes can be made 
without omitting or repeating any part of the course. 

"During the past thirteen years more than 45 per cent of 
the pupils entering the high schools from the Cambridge grammar 
schools did the work in the grammar schools in less than six years, 
36.1 per cent doing it in five years, and 9.3 per cent in four years. 

'95 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

" It does not follow, however, that because so many did the 
work in less than the full time that the plan is a good one. Its 
value is shown, rather, by the thoroughness with which the work 
has been done, not in one year only, but in a series of years. The 
results of the first year's work in the high schools would seem to 
be a test of this thoroughness. The records in these schools 
show that for thirteen years the marks of the pupils who were 
four years in the grammar schools were higher than were the 
marks of those who were five years in the grammar schools; and 
that the marks of those who were five years in the grammar 
schools were higher than were the marks of those who were six 
years in the grammar schools. 

" It is now sixteen years since the schools were first classified 
on this plan. During this time nine thousand four hundred fifty 
pupils have graduated from the grammar schools. Of this 
number, 7 per cent completed the course in four years, 29 per 
cent in five years, 49 per cent in six years, and 15 per cent in 
seven years or more." 

Other plans for securing flexible grading are based on having 
all of the children in a room in one division for the study of certain 
subjects, and divided into as many as four or five groups in other 
subjects, and promoting freely in these latter groups as the child 
shows capacity to go forward. A similar plan is to divide children 
into groups so that the slow ones will take the essential subjects 
only and the brighter ones additional subjects as well. Under 
this plan promotion is based primarily on the essential subjects 
and the pupils allowed to omit if necessary some of the less essential 
ones. The prime difficulty here is that educators have so far 
been entirely unable to agree as to which subjects are essential. 

Whatever plan be adopted it is certain that it should pro- 
vide for the least possible loss of time by the pupil who has failed 
and is obliged to repeat part of the work. Even more essential 
is it that educators should find out what few of them now know; 
that is, how rapidly pupils actually pass through the grades, and 
where and why they lose time. When each superintendent 
knows what these facts are we shall no longer have school courses 
which are too difficult to be accomplished by the average pupil in 

196 

J 



REMEDIAL MEASURES LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE 

normal time and too inflexible to permit the bright pupil to 
gain time. 

SPECIAL CLASSES FOR FOREIGNERS 

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants come to our shores 
each year from foreign countries. The vast majority of them 
can not speak English. They bring with them children of school 
age in considerable numbers and these children constitute a serious 
problem in many of our cities. All too often the school authorities 
are addicted to the practice of placing a foreign child who cannot 
speak English, no matter what his ge or what his attainments 
in the schools of his native country, in one of the lower grades and 
allowing him to remain there until he has picked up English 
without special instruction. The practice is unjust to the child 
and the results of the policy are disastrous to the schools. Where 
foreigners are numerous they aid in congesting the lower grades 
and many of them on reaching the age of fourteen are unable 
to qualify for the certificate which is necessary for them to obtain 
work. The language difficulty is not a serious handicap for the 
child who hears English in the school and on the street and it is 
certainly the duty of the school to reduce it to the lowest possible 
point. 

Other cities might well follow the lead of New York, Cincin- 
nati and some other localities in this respect and establish special 
classes for these children. The action of New York has been 
especially commendable. In 1906 that city organized special 
classes as follows: 

(1) Classes to afford non-English speaking pupils an 
opportunity speedily to acquire a knowledge of the English 
language, classed as grade C pupils. 

(2) To accommodate pupils who are soon to be fourteen 
years of age and who desire employment certificates, classed as 
D pupils. 

(3) To afford over-age pupils of the fifth and sixth grades 
an opportunity to make special preparation for admission to the 
7 A grade, classed as E pupils. 

In June, 1908, there were nearly 2000 pupils in the C class, 
3500 in the D classes and 15,000 in the E classes. 

197 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



PHYSICAL DEFECTS 

In the chapter devoted to physical defects evidence was 
presented which shows that there is a strong correlation between 
physical defectiveness among children and failure to make normal 
progress. This is a field in which our knowledge is as yet but 
slight and incomplete. The task confronting the new hygiene 
and the school doctor is a mighty one, but one which is unsur- 
passed in possibilities for good. As medical inspection is at 
present conducted in our schools the net result too often consists 
in piling up statistics as to the sum total of each sort of defect 
discovered. Moreover, there is usually little or no discrimination 
between different sorts of defects. The significant and the non- 
significant are lumped together. 

These conditions are bound to change. When medical 
inspection is administered by school departments so that educa- 
tional men and women take a real interest in the results of the 
examinations; when the cases are followed up so as to insure 
something being done to remedy the conditions discovered; when 
the school nurse becomes a permanent feature; when we learn 
to discriminate between significant and non-significant defects, 
as they do now in Tasmania; and when school doctors learn to 
tabulate their statistics by age, sex, grade, progress and defects 
so as to make the figures tell their story; when all of these things 
come to pass, as they will some day, we shall see as a result a 
very considerable reduction in the amount of retardation in our 
public schools. 

TRANSFERS 

There is conclusive evidence to show that pupils are re- 
tarded in their progress by transfers from one school to another. 
In the New York investigation the records showed 25 per cent 
more transfers among the retarded children than among the non- 
retarded children. It is manifest that children are bound to 
suffer more or less when they leave one school to attend another. 
In our shifting population such changes are so frequent as to affect 
a considerable part of the children attending school. It is the 
manifest duty of school superintendents, principals and teachers 

, 9 8 



REMEDIAL MEASURES LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE 

to see to it that just as often as may be the child who transfers 
from school to school shall proceed in his new class from the point 
at which he left his studies in the old one. In all such cases it is 
the child and not the school which should be given the benefit of 
the doubt. 

PROMOTIONS 

There is a feeling among school workers, not always or even / 
often expressed, but generally more or less forcibly present, that 
retardation is a symptom of good schools. There are many 
teachers and some principals who feel that to promote few of their 
pupils is a sign that their standards of work are so high that none 
but the best pupils can attain them. This raises a serious basal 
question as to the function of the common school. Other things 
being equal it is evident that of two school systems, that having 
the larger percentage of retardation would have the higher and 
more rigorous standards. It is very possible too that it would 
have the more painstaking and conscientious teachers. 

What is the function of our common schools? If it is to sort 
out the best of the pupils and prepare them for further education 
in higher schools, then the most rigorous system, with the severest 
course of study and the lowest percentage of promotions and the 
highest percentage of retardation is the best system. But if the 
function of the common school is, as the author believes, to 
furnish an elementary education to the maximum number of \ 
children, then other things being equal that school is best which 
regularly promotes and finally graduates the largest percentage of 
its pupils. 

In respect to the matter of promotions as to all of the 
other factors discussed in this chapter the fundamental require- 
ments for reform in existing practices are very simple. They 
are only two. The first is to discover and understand the facts 
in the case and the second is to put the burden of proof on the 
school, not on the child. It is the duty of the school to find the 
child, not of the child to discover the school. Once enrolled the 
school should carry him along through the grades as fast as he 
can go, not as fast as he can force it to let him go. If he has I 
defective vision it is the duty of the school to discover the fact. / 

199 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



When his family moves and he has to enter a new school, he has 
a right to demand that he continue his work where he laid it down, 
not a grade or two below that point. At the end of the term it 
is for the school to show cause, if need be, why he should be held 
back, not for the pupil to show cause why he should be promoted. 



200 



CHAPTER XIX 

REFORM IN AND THROUGH SCHOOL 
RECORDS 

OUR schools are weakest on the administrative side. Begin- 
ning with a teacher in one small room, systems have 
developed until they have reached vast proportions, but 
the teacher has still remained the administrative unit. When 
several teachers have been placed together in one building one 
of them has been appointed principal. When a city has a number 
of such schools some principal, either from that city or from 
outside, is appointed superintendent. It is this course of evolution 
which has resulted in the weakness of our systems on the adminis- 
trative side. Until very recent years practically none of those in 
charge of school systems have had either technical training in 
educational work or business or office experience of any sort. 

School records born of administrative necessity have been 
installed and continued from year to year with little reference 
to their real utility. Moreover, the primary records gathered by 
the room teacher have seldom been collated and interpreted so 
as to shed light on conditions and needs in the school system. 
Little or no effort has been made to preserve original records, to 
reduce duplication, to save time and energy or to secure accuracy 
and accessibility. Worst of all, different principals and superin- 
tendents have introduced isolated and disconnected practices 
from which significant facts for the whole system can not be 
deduced. There have been many day books and blotters but no 
ledger accounts. 

If existing conditions are to be bettered and our school 
systems made more efficient we must have a better knowledge of 
conditions and their significance. To accomplish this we must 
have better records. 

201 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 



THE SCHOOL CENSUS 

The first essential in a system of compulsory education is to 
find out who and where the children are who ought to be in school. 
The means by which this can be accomplished is the school census 
properly administered. As an instance of what can be done in 
this direction the census taken in Providence, Rhode Island, is a 
good example. The report of the Supervisor of the Census, Gilbert 
E. Whittemore, for 1908 divides the children into five classes as 
follows : 

Class I. Children five years old, only admitted to the kinder- 
garten in the public schools. 

Class II. Children six years old, age of admission to public 
primary schools, but attendance not compulsory. 

Class III. Children seven years old and not fourteen years 
old, the compulsory attendance age. 

Class IV. Children fourteen years old whose attendance at 
school is compulsory unless lawfully employed at labor, or unless 
the child has completed the course of study of the primary and 
grammar schools. 

Class V. Children fifteen years old whose attendance is not 
compulsory. 

Under each of these classes the total enumeration is given, 
the enumeration for the preceding year, the number in public, 
private and Catholic schools, and the number not in any school. 
All of these facts are also expressed in percentages. Besides 
this, information is given in each case as to the duration of attend- 
ance and the result of the investigation of the cases of children 
not in any school. Moreover, these records are not mere results 
of an enumeration of the children. The record of each separate 
child found by the census agent is checked with the child's record 
in the school, and records are made on separate slips of the age, 
grade, nationality and other facts regarding each child. 

Another example of an efficient school census comes from 
Springfield, Massachusetts, where the number of children in the 
city at each age from five to fifteen is given, together with the 
number at the same ages in public, private and parochial schools 
and not attending any school. Although it has not been done in 

202 



REFORM IN AND THROUGH SCHOOL RECORDS 

the case cited, such figures offer an excellent opportunity for show- 
ing conditions concerning school attendance and truancy in a 
city in graphic and convincing form by means of a diagram. 



10 




Diagram XXXVIII. School census results in Springfield, Mass. Upright 
columns represent number of children at each age; hatched portions the number 
in private and parochial schools; and black portions number of children not in 
any school. 

In the above diagram each upright column represents the 
number of children in the city at the given age. The part in out- 
line represents the children in the public school, the cross-lined 
portion those in private and parochial schools and the black the 
number not attending any school. The portion between the two 
heavy upright lines represents the children of compulsory attend- 
ance age, from seven to thirteen years inclusive. Springfield's record 
is a good one. In the compulsory years the heavily shaded portion 
is very small. Were the facts for many other cities represented 
in this way the results would be so striking as to constitute a 
potent force for reforming the department of school attendance. 

AGE AND GRADE DISTRIBUTION 

The most significant development which has taken place in 
recent years in the traditional manner of presenting school statis- 

203 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

tics is the rapidly growing use of grade and age distribution tables 
by superintendents. Fifteen years ago they had hardly been 
heard of. Five years ago they were still very rare and when 
presented were usually printed without comment. Today they 
form regular features in the annual reports from at least forty 
cities, and many pages are devoted to interpreting the conditions 
they disclose. 

A large part of the data discussed in this volume has been 
gathered from these tables and the device itself has been briefly 
described in Chapter IV. The excuse for taking them up again here 
for more extended comment is found in the fact that these tables 
are the most significant and instructive single forms of statistical 
statement in use by schoolmen and are absolutely basal to studies 
of retardation. 

Superintendents and teachers have always known that the 
children of any one grade are of varying ages, but only recently 
have they realized how great the variations commonly are or what 
they mean. Table 104 on page 205 shows how the children of 
Springfield, Massachusetts, were distributed by grades and ages 
in September, 1907. 

Looking at the figures for the first grade we see that there 
were eleven children at the age of four, three at the age of eleven 
and more than 1500 between these two extremes. This condition 
is significant from an educational view point. The children of 
the first grade are of eight different ages, a range equal in years 
to the time supposed to be required to complete the entire elemen- 
tary course. The grade does not form at all a homogeneous group. 
The average age is six and three-quarters years, but work planned 
for six year old pupils will not be suited to the needs and abilities 
of a large part of the pupils. In several of the other grades the 
range is even more, being as high as eleven years in the third 
grade. 

The presence of so many relatively old pupils in these grades 
is important not alone because they make difficult the planning 
of work for the classes. In the first grade there are three eleven 
year old children. If they progress normally they will be nineteen 
years old when they reach the final grade. But there are no 
nineteen year old children in the final grade. Children do not 

204 




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205 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

remain to that age. If they must do so in order to graduate they 
simply do not graduate. They leave school. The chance of these 
three children ever reaching the final grade is so small that they 
have practically no chance at all to do so. Children similarly 
situated are found in all of the grades. Nor do we need to limit 
our attention to these extreme cases. It has been repeatedly 
demonstrated that our children leave school in great numbers at 
the age of fourteen whatever the stage of their advancement. A 
child of six in the first grade will be fourteen in the ninth if he 
advances regularly. Every year added to the age in the first 
grade reduces enormously his chance of ever reaching the final 
grade. 

These are the considerations which have led educators to 
adopt for criterion the period from six to eight as "normal age" 
in the first grade and anything above eight as " above normal age." 
On the same basis seven to nine is normal age in the second grade, 
eight to ten in the third, and so on for all of the grades. 

Referring now to the Springfield table it will be noted that 
there is a heavy broken line running through it dividing the pupils 
of each grade in such a way as to leave the pupils of normal age 
on the left and the over-age pupils on the right. At the right of 
the table are three columns of figures, the first giving the total 
membership of the grades, the second the over-age pupils and the 
third the per cent which these are of the entire grade membership. 
In a similar way at the foot of the table are three lines of figures, 
the first giving the whole number at each age, the second the num- 
ber below normal grade for age and the third the per cent which 
these pupils are of the entire group. 

Grade and age tables are simply and quickly made from 
data usually in the records of every school system. The effort 
required to secure from them significant information is slight. 
They may be used profitably in different schools and districts 
within a system for purposes of comparison and should form a 
valuable basis for selecting retarded children for special attention. 

BEGINNERS, SURVIVORS AND REPEATERS 
One item which should find a place in the school reports 
of all city systems and almost never does so, is a statement of the 

206 



REFORM IN AND THROUGH SCHOOL RECORDS 

number of new pupils beginning school each year. If we knew 
the number of beginners for a series of years we could at once and 
easily compute the number of repeaters in each grade and the 
percentage of survivors in the final grade. It is to be hoped that 
school superintendents will add this item to their lists, for the 
information is easily secured and most important. If the data 
had been available a large part of the laborious and cumbersome 
computation involved in preparing the tables in this volume 
would have been rendered unnecessary and the results would be 
much more satisfactory and more accurate. 

In the absence of direct information as to the number of 
beginners the number may be approximated as has been explained 
in Chapter V by taking the average of the year groups from seven 
to twelve inclusive. This again is often a product of the age and 
grade table, for where such a table is printed it gives us the age 
groups and where it is not printed it is but rarely that we find 
any statement as to ages. The annual number of beginners in 
Springfield, Massachusetts, computed by this method from the 
figures of 1907 is 1047. 

If we assume that 1047 * s tne annual number of beginners in 
Springfield we can find the per cent of pupils who survive to the 
final or ninth grade by finding what per cent the ninth grade 
membership is of 1047. The number in the ninth grade is 593. 
This number is 56.6 per cent of 1047. Hence we may say that this 
represents the per cent of beginners in Springfield who survive 
to the final grade. This is described in tne chapter on " Mortality 
and Survival in the Grades." 

The membership in each of the first six grades was greater 
than 1047. If this number represents the annual number of 
beginners then in each of the first six grades there must be as 
many pupils who are repeating as the difference between the grade 
membership and 1047. The sum of these differences is 1397 
which represents the number of repeaters. This is the method 
described in the chapter on the "Money Cost of the Repeater." 

DISTRIBUTIVE RECORDS OF ENROLLMENT AND ATTENDANCE 

In Chapter XII dealing with irregular attendance attention 
was invited to the relatively valueless character of present methods 

207 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

of recording attendance and enrollment in so far as the question 
of measuring persistence is concerned. Instances were cited of 
cities which print tables showing the true character of attendance 
and from those tables valuable information was secured. 

When our superintendents adopt this form of record inter- 
preting a great step forward will have been taken. Take for 
instance the case of Springfield, Ohio, where the attendance records 
are printed both in the ordinary way, showing the total enrollment, 
average attendance and per cent of attendance, and in a dis- 
tributive table, showing the persistence of attendance. The data 
presented in the ordinary way for 1907 are as follows: 

TABLE 105. TOTAL ENROLLMENT AND AVERAGE ATTENDANCE, 
SPRINGFIELD, OHIO, 1907. 

Total enrollment 6537 

Average attendance 5 3 66 

Per cent of average attendance 82.1 

There is nothing either surprising or illuminating about these 
figures. The showing is a good one as such records go, and would 
not naturally spur the school authorities on to further investiga- 
tion or study. But when the same facts are presented in the 
distributive table the results are quite different. 

TABLE I06. SHOWING THE NUMBER OF PUPILS ATTENDING FOR 
DIFFERENT NUMBERS OF DAYS. SPRINGFIELD, O., 1907. 

Days Pupils 

184 440 

180 to 184 1136 

170 to 180 1725 

160 to 170 88 1 

150 to 160 518 

140 to 150 313 

130 to 140 230 

120 to 130 167 

no to 120 116 

ioo to no 1 19 

Fewer than ioo 892 

Total ' 6537 

According to the table 892 of the pupils attended less than ioo 
days. That is, in general terms they were present less than half 
the time. Here at once we have nearly 900 pupils who can have 
no hope of promotion. They are nearly 14 per cent of all the 

208 



REFORM IN AND THROUGH SCHOOL RECORDS 

pupils. If in a similar way we consider that those present less 
than three-fourths of the time can not hope for promotion we 
find that the group includes more than 1 500 or nearly a quarter of 
all of the children. In short, the table reveals conditions of the 
utmost importance which are entirely concealed by the attendance 
records in common use. Moreover, these distributive tables are 
not purposed merely as additions to the methods now employed. 
They may well be substituted for the old methods. Careful com- 
parison has shown that if the teachers will merely report the num- 
ber of children who have attended during the year from no days 
to ten days, from ten to twenty days, from twenty to thirty days, 
and so on up to the number present every day, the average attend- 
ance as calculated from these figures will not vary from the true 
average attendance calculated in the present laborious fashion, 
which takes into account every half day's absence, by more than 
a fraction of one per cent. 

The same holds true for enrollment. All of the records 
dealing with the number of children on the rolls and the number 
present can be much more easily kept and rendered many fold 
more valuable by using the distributive method of statement. 
Nor is it only in this field that this form of record is valuable. 
We have already considered its utility in the matter of grades and 
ages. In showing conditions as to such matters as cost, national- 
ity, physical defects, time in grade, age at entering, etc., distrib- 
utive records are equally desirable. In all of these fields the 
form of statement by averages is apt to be both misleading and 
non-significant and should almost always be supplemented by 
the distributive statement. 

PUPIL'S CONTINUOUS RECORD CARD, NEW YORK CITY 
In the present practice of most school systems little or no 
attempt is made to preserve a continuous history of the individual 
pupil. The records for a series of years are contained in the 
registers, but these are renewed each year or term, and in a large 
school it is in practice almost impossible to trace back the history 
of any pupil through a series of years. 

In an article in Volume VII of School Work, Mr. George H. 
Chatfield, principal of Public School Number 51 of New York City 
14 209 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

describes the record card which has just been adopted for use in 
the New York schools, and outlines the stages of record evolution 
which have led up to it. Mr. Chatfield tells us of the great western 
corporation manufacturing the major part of the stoves used in 
that section of the country. The history of each stove placed on 
the markets forms part of the company's records, and this system 
is held by the founders of this great business to be the true cause 
of its great and lasting prosperity. From the raw material to the 
finished product each part is accounted for, each workman's 
responsibility recorded, and the results of each inspection are 
noted. That such methods are not unique is shown by the fact 
that most prosperous shoe concerns have similar plans by which 
they can ascertain the details of the shop history of each pair of 
shoes manufactured. The schools of our country have passed 
and are passing through a development as marked as that of the 
business world. The educational records of fifty years ago are 
as out of place today as the quill pen and letter press which once 
held sway in the counting room. 

The New York card may be taken as embodying the best 
and latest thought in the development of continuous records for 
pupils. It is a card designed to contain in summarized form the 
significant school history of the individual pupil. It is 5 x 8 
inches in size; in color it is blue for boys, and white for girls. 
The plan is that these cards shall be made out in duplicate for 
the entire school and new cards added for any new pupils ad- 
mitted. One set of cards is filed alphabetically and one by 
classes. At the end of each term the teachers enter the records 
for their pupils on the cards and indicate the new class to which 
the pupils are to be transferred or promoted with the date of 
change. The cards are then distributed among the teachers for 
the ensuing term according to promotions. Original data for 
the new roll book entries are taken by each teacher from her cards 
thus reducing the probability of error. After the changes have 
been made and recorded all of the new data which have been 
added are entered on the duplicate card in the alphabetical file. 

It is worthy of note that peculiar conditions in New York 
City have necessitated an amount of refinement of detail on this 
card which would be entirely unnecessary in most smaller towns 

210 



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211 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

and cities. It is an interesting evidence of the shifting character 
of the population that spaces have been left for twenty changes 
of address. The size of New York's apartment houses is reflected 
in the spaces left for recording the number of the floor on which 
the pupil lives. The frequency of transfers is shown by the fact 
that although there are but eight grades, each one divided into two 
sections, spaces have been left on the card for thirty-two entries. 

While the New York card allows for a greater number of 
changes of address and transfers than will be found necessary in 
almost any other locality, other existing continuous record cards, 
almost without exception, err in not allowing for enough flexibility 
in these regards. Among thirty-five record cards from as many 
cities which have been carefully studied there are but few which 
fulfil even the most fundamental requirements for such a record. 
This fact bears testimony to the recent growth of the realization 
of the necessity for such records. Most of the cards now in use 
are products of the past two or three years and have not yet been 
modified by the teachings of experience. 

To be satisfactory a continuous record card must be large 
enough to contain all of the data necessary for recording the 
significant facts in a child's school history during the entire 
elementary course. It should not have part of the record on the 
reverse side if this can be avoided. It should be of one of the three 
standard sizes, viz., 3x5 inches, 4x6 inches or 5 x 8 inches. 
It should allow for several changes of address and for transfers 
from school to school. It should be so arranged as to reduce to a 
minimum the possibility of misunderstanding it. Lastly, the unit 
under which entries are to be made should be the school year and 
not the grade. This is because in tracing a child's school history 
what we want to know is where he was and what he was doing 
during each year subsequent to his first beginning until the time 
he left school. If the record is entered by grades and we find that 
he was in grade two in 1903 and in grade three in 1905 we have 
nothing to tell us whether he was absent in 1904 or repeating 
grade two. 

The following form is offered as filling all of the above 
conditions. It is designed to be printed on a 5 x 8 card and should 
be supplied in two colors, one for boys and the other for girls. 

212 



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I 1 



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213 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

In this card one line of the record is to be filled out for each 
school term in systems having semi-annual promotions and one 
line for each school year in systems having annual promotions. 
Each time a new school is entered a new line is used. Thus if a 
pupil does the work of a grade three times there will be three lines 
rilled out and they will tell the story of his repetitions. If he does 
the work once, is out of school for a term on account of sickness, 
returns and does the work of that grade again, there will be three 
lines filled out and again they will tell the story. If a child be- 
gins a term in one school and continues it in another, two lines 
will be filled out for that term, and so on. There are twenty-two 
lines provided giving ample space for recording the pupil's record 
in the sixteen half grades and allowing besides for several transfers 
and repetitions. In a system having annual promotions twelve 
lines should be sufficient. 

TRANSFER CARDS 

In most cities the records which deal with transfers are 
simple in the extreme and often as inefficient as they are simple. 
The common practice is to give the child who is about to move to 
another part of the city a transfer card telling what grade he is 
leaving and sometimes giving a transcript of at least part of his 
school record. The child takes this card with him and presents it 
or not at the new school according as his parents are careful or 
careless about allowing him to lose time before beginning work in 
the new locality. 

The New York investigation demonstrated the fact that 
there is a close relation between transfers and retardation. It 
is important that teachers and principals do all in their power to 
make the loss from this source as small as possible. Good trans- 
fer records are one important factor. The essential characteristics 
are that the child shall have to take with him a card entitling him 
to be admitted in the new school, that the authorities of the 
school he leaves have a record of the transfer, and that the principal 
of the new school have a notification of the fact that the transfer 
has been given. In many systems it is also regarded as necessary 
that the superintendent's office be notified. 

These requirements mean that there must be three or four 

214 



REFORM IN AND THROUGH SCHOOL RECORDS 

copies of the transfer record. The easiest and most convenient 
way to allow for this is by means of appropriately arranged forms 
printed on leaves bound in a book and perforated for separation 
like the leaves of a check book. By means of carbon paper four 
copies can be made by filling in the two blanks on one page cor- 
responding to the check and the stub in a check book. Three of 
these are then torn out and given respectively to the child, the 
new principal and the superintendent. The fourth remains as a 
permanent record for the school. This system is used in Water- 
bury, Connecticut, and there the card sent to the principal of 
the new school has on it the note, " If the above pupil does not 
appear at your school within one day notify the truant officer." 



215 



CHAPTER XX 
RETARDATION AND SOCIETY 

THOSE who direct our public schools, more than any other 
class of people, come into intimate contact with significant 
social facts. By the nature of their work they are forced 
to note directly and immediately the results of health and sickness, 
births and deaths, prosperity and misery, cleanliness and dirt in 
the city's population. It is for these reasons that through the 
schools more than from any other single source we should be able 
to get at the facts which will tell us of obstacles to civic better- 
ment and the results of attempts to remove those obstacles. 

Reasonable as the assumption may be that the schools 
should be able to enlighten us along these lines, the expectation 
that their records will serve us is commonly doomed to disap- 
pointment. The reader who has reached this point in the present 
volume cannot but have been impressed with the utter inadequacy 
of the data printed in the school reports which have been made 
the chief basis of the present series of inquiries. 

In the present study three questions have been kept con- 
stantly in view; namely, What proportion of the children who 
enter the schools complete the elementary course? At what points 
in the course do those who fail to finish drop out? What are the 
causes which impel children to drop out without finishing? 

These questions are neither new nor complex, nor unprac- 
tical. They bear the very closest relation to the first principles of 
efficient school administration and yet the facts to answer them 
are not available in any printed report but must be approximated 
through laborious computations such as have been explained. 
One main object of the present volume will have been attained 
if it has been convincingly demonstrated that we need more and 
better facts on which to base our judgments as to action in educa- 

216 



RETARDATION AND SOCIETY 

tional matters. In every line of business it has been convincingly 
and repeatedly shown that it pays to spend enough money and 
enough effort to learn the facts about the business. Why should 
this not hold likewise in the field of education? 

We have referred to the case of the stove corporation that 
regards as its most valuable asset the records which enable it to 
trace the shop history of each stove from the stage when it enters 
as raw material to the one when it leaves the factory as a com- 
pleted article. Attention has also been called to the fact that 
similar records are kept by the great shoe companies. If the 
directors of large corporations have found through experience 
that it pays to know what happened to a stove or a shoe in the 
process of manufacture, who worked on it, how long it took to 
complete it, and, if it is in any way deficient, at whose door the 
responsibility lies, is it not much more the duty of those in charge 
of training citizens to be able to find out what happened in the 
course-of the education given, when the child entered, how long 
he spent in each grade, where he progressed slowly and where 
rapidly, and, if he left school before completing the course, when 
and why? 

Whether or not the assumption that the school can and 
should learn these facts be a valid one largely depends on what 
the mission of the common school really is. This has already been 
dwelt on at some length in a previous chapter. The position 
taken, which is basal to the viewpoint of the present volume, is 
that it is the mission of the common school to give as large a 
proportion of the children of the community as possible a com- 
plete elementary education. If this assumption is not valid 
then the study of retardation and elimination and the problems 
of individual record keeping have little value. 

If, however, the assumption be a valid one, then the matters 
which have been treated assume at once a distinct and striking 
importance. This is true, not only from the viewpoint of educa- 
tional economics, which would dictate the accumulation and 
classification of more and better knowledge about the results of 
our educational methods and processes, but also from the more 
directly pedagogical viewpoint of the course of study. The facts 
which have been reviewed and the conditions disclosed reveal with 

217 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

startling clearness at least two disquieting characteristics of the 
courses of study in vogue in our city school systems. 

The first is that our courses are not fitted for the average 
child. They are so devised that they may be followed by the un- 
usually bright pupil substantially as mapped out. The really 
exceptional child may even advance faster than the scheduled 
rate but the average child cannot keep up with the work as planned 
and the slow child has an even smaller chance of doing so. 

The second characteristic of our schools as they now exist 
is that they are better fitted for the girl than for the boy pupils. 
This is strikingly proven by the figures which have been presented. 

The lesson of the facts so briefly reviewed is a plain one. 
If our conception of the mission of the common school is true 
then the schools must be in some measure reformed, not only 
on the administrative side, but also through changes in the course 
of study and in the methods of teaching. It is intolerable that 
but a small part of the children who enter our schools should stay 
to complete them. It is not at all likely that the public at large 
will long be content to continue to support the schools as at pres- 
ent administere'd if they once fully realize that those schools are 
not accomplishing what we have for years assumed that they were. 
If, then, we are to so guide the rising current of public interest 
in education that it shall result in wise and constructive action, 
it is imperative that we evaluate these concrete facts with the 
utmost care. 

We need to know the effects of our elementary curricula 
by following the effects upon the graduates. What happens under 
this system and under that? We do not know. We are starting 
upon a great movement for vocational training. We are moving 
towards a sort of commercialism in education. It is claimed 
that a boy who has finished the grammar grades and has had two 
years' training in vocational work will be able to earn a better 
livelihood than one who leaves school in the sixth grade and has 
had no such training. And yet, although we are now expending 
hundreds of thousands of dollars upon preparations for this new 
sort of education and are planning to spend millions, the real, 
concrete, definite facts that can be brought forward in support 
of the arguments in favor of the new schools are painfully few in 

218 



RETARDATION AND SOCIETY 

number and unconvincing in kind. The fact is that, despite the 
hundreds of thousands of trained workers in education and the 
millions of treasure freely spent each year, we still base our actions 
in education largely on opinion, guess work and eloquence. 

In one city of Michigan the proposition recently gained 
headway that kindergartens should be established. The advo- 
cates of the innovation claimed that many advantages would 
follow their establishment. Among^these claims perhaps the 
most weighty was that children who have passed through the 
kindergarten complete the elementary course in less time than 
do those who have not had the advantage of such training. Those 
persons who opposed the establishment of the kindergartens 
denied that this would be a result. In order to settle this very 
important point the local school authorities wrote to superintend- 
ents of schools all over the country in cities where kindergartens 
form a part of the school system, and asked whether children who 
have taken the kindergarten course complete the work of the 
grades in less time than do those who have not had such training. 
Answers were received from seventy-two cities. Forty-nine 
answered that they thought that the kindergarten pupils did the 
work of the grades more rapidly than the others, but that they 
did not know. Twenty-three cities replied that they held the 
opposite opinion, but that they did not know. 

The illustration is typical of the present status of knowledge 
in education. We have thousands of kindergartens and spend on 
them every year hundreds of thousands of dollars, but what the 
effect of the kindergarten training is no one knows. 

If the present work accomplishes even a little toward alter- 
ing this condition it will not have been in vain. Its main object 
is to accomplish what it may in the direction of getting schoolmen 
to think of education in terms of something. What those terms 
are is not, at least at first, of great importance. What is import- 
ant is that the old criteria of "good" and "poor" and "striking" 
and "appealing" make way for quantitative standards of measure 
and comparison by which effectiveness and efficiency may be 
judged. 

There is one more factor which, while of supreme importance, 
has only been casually touched upon in the present work. That 

219 



LAGGARDS IN OUR SCHOOLS 

is the psychological effect of retardation upon the retarded. We 
have seen that a large part of all the children in our public schools 
fail to make normal progress. They fail repeatedly. They are 
thoroughly trained in failure. The effect of such training should 
be carefully considered, for the problem it presents is a grave one. 
It does not make much difference what we have to do, whether it 
is a great thing or a little thing, so long as we feel that it is possible 
for us and that we can do it if we try. There are few more hope- 
less things in the world than to have it borne in upon us that we 
are driving against a thing that we cannot do. Yet this is the 
sort of training that we are giving a large part of all of our children. 

Under our present system there are large numbers of children 
who are destined to lives of failure. We know them in the schools 
as the children who are always a little behind physically, a little 
behind intellectually, and a little behind in the power to do. Such 
a child is the one who is always "It" in the competitive games of 
childhood. He cannot jump so far as the other boys, he takes a 
step more in getting across the street from curb to curb when the 
boys are seeing in how few steps they can do it. He always falls 
below; he falls down he knows he is going to fall. 

There is no teacher but will recognize the picture of this 
boy, and indeed, with some modifications, it fits many girls just as 
well. These are the boys and girls with whom this book deals. 
They are not the mentally deficient, exceptionally dull children. 
They constitute a large part of all of the school children in most, 
but not in all, of our school systems. These are the children that 
too many of our schools are confirming in the habit of failure. 

Success is riecessary to everyhurnan being. To live in an 
atmosphere of failurels"tragedy fiTmany. It is not a matter of 
intellectual attainment; not an intellectual matter at all but a 
moral matter. The boys and girls coming out of school clear- 
headed and with good bodies, who are resolute, who are deter- 
mined to do and sure that they can do, will do more for them- 
selves and for the world than those who come out with far greater 
intellectual attainments, but who lack confidence, who have not 
established the habit of success but within whom the school has 
established the habit of failure. 



220 



INDEX 



INDEX 



Absence 

Excuse, Ogden schools 188 

Adenoids 

Retardation caused by 6 

Retarding effect of 12 7-8 

Age and Grade Distribution 

Hypothetical case 30 

In Memphis 37 

In Cincinnati 159 

Importance of 203 

In Springfield, Mass 205 

Age Distribution 

In Medford 51 

In Columbus 92 

Age Groups 

In fifty-eight cities 10-1 1 

Ages 

Physical defects by 121 

At starting compared with time 
in school 166-169 

Americans 

Retardation among 6 

Retardation among, in New 
York City 107 

Atlanta, Ga. 

Attendance in 186 

Attendance 

And enrollment in six cities 133 

And promotions in three cities ... 138 

Compulsory 185 

Figures from the Census 186 

Report in Wheeling 187 

Certificate in Mansfield, Ohio. . . 190 

In Milwaukee 193 

Distributive records of 207 

In Springfield, Ohio 208 

Aurora, 111. 

Retardation in 45, 154 

Grades and High School com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Retention of pupils through 
high school 64 

Rates of progress in 87 



Repeaters in 96, 156 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 



Backward Children Investigation 

This volume a report of 3 

Study conducted by 46 

Baltimore, Md. 

Retardation in 45, 154 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Beginners computed by Thorn- 
dike 68 

Rapid and slow progress of 

pupils in 84 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 97, 156 

Enrollment and attendance in. . . 133 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Retention of pupils in 155, 162 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

Batavia System 

Of flexible grading 194 



Bay City, Mich. 

Withdrawals in 99 

Bayonne, N. J. 

Defective vision in 130 

Beginning Pupils 

Number of, not stated in reports 50 

Number of, how computed 52 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with. (See Grades.) 
How computed by Dr. Thorn- 
dike 68 

How computed 207 



223 



22 4 



INDEX 



Birmingham, Ala. 

Attendance in 186 

Boston, Mass. 

Retardation in 45, 154, 171 

Grade distribution in 50 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96, 156 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Retardation for a series of years. 171 
Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 180 

Breathing, Defective- 
Retarding effect of 127-8 

Bridgeport, Conn. 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 172 

Brockton, Mass. 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Brooklyn, N. Y. 

Reference to newspaper article 
from 89 

Bryan, James E. 

Reference to work of 108 

Reference to study by 119 

Buffalo, N. Y. 

Foreign pupils in 1 1 1 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 172 

Bureau of Education 

Bulletin of 9 



Cambridge, Mass. 

Withdrawals in 99 

Comment on school census 192 

Plan of flexible grading 194 

Camden, N. J. 

Retention in 4, 64, 155 

Repeaters in 5, 97 

Retardation in 45, 154 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 



Elimination in 60 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Language difficulty in 108 

Sight and hearing tests in 119 

Causes for excessive age in 120 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

Causes 

Of withdrawals in five cities 99 

For excessive age in Camden . 120 

Census 

Citation from 134, 185 

Attendance figures from 186 

School 191 

School, in New Bedford, Mass. . . 192 
School, in Providence, R. I., and 

Springfield, Mass 202 

Chatfield, George H. 

Reference to article by 209 

Chicago, 111. 

Grade distribution 20 

Promotions in 27, 143 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 97 

Enrollment and attendance in... 133 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

Chicopee, Mass. 

Defective children in 131 

Cincinnati, Ohio 

Promotions in 27, 143 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 



INDEX 



22 5 



Cincinnati, Ohio Cont'd. 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 97 

Age and grade distribution in 159 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

Special classes for foreigners in. . 197 

Cleveland, Ohio 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 97 

Defective children in 130 

Persistence of attendance in 138 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

Columbus, Ohio 

Promotions in 27 

Retardation in 45, 154, 171 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Grade distribution in 91 

Age distribution in 92 

Repeaters in 97, 156 

Persistence of attendance in 138 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155, 162 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Retardation for a series of years 171 
Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

Commissioner of Education, Re- 
port for 1906 
Reference to 20 

Commissioner of Education, Re- 
port for 1907 

Reference to 1 2, 20 

Grade figures from 72 

Citation from 150 

Comparison 

Standards of 219 

15 



Compulsory Attendance Period 
Not coincident with length of 
school course 7, 186 

Connecticut 

Index of efficiency 182 

Cornell, Walter S. 

Reference to study of 117 

Cornman, Oliver P. 

Reference to article by 36 

Cost- 
C^f repeaters in fifty-five cities.. 96 

Course of Study 

Not fitted to average child 5 



Dayton, Ohio 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Persistence of attendance in 138 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

Death- 
Grade decrease through 23-24 

Decatur, 111. 

Retardation in 45, 154 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 97, 156 

Withdrawals in 99 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155, 162 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 180 

Defects, Physical 

Retarding effect of 



127-8 



Denmark 

Illiteracy in; 



I0 5 



226 



INDEX 



Denver, Colo. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 
school 64 

Beginners computed by Thorn- 
dike 68 

Repeaters in 96 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 180 

Detroit, Mich. 

Comment on school census 191 

Distributive Records 

Importance of 207 

Double Promotions 

(See Promotions.) 

Draper, Andrew S. 

Quotation from 9 

Reference to report of 20 



EDUCATIONAL REVIEW - 

Quotation from 40 

Efficiency, Index of 

For fifty-eight cities 180 

By states 182 

For large cities 184 

Elimination 

Process of 8 

Factor of 21, 18 

General tendency of, in city 

school systems 60 

In Quincy, Camden and Med- 

ford 60 

Grade in which it begins in fifty- 
nine cities . . , 62 

English Language 

Ignorance of, a small handicap. . 6 

English-speaking Children 

Retardation among 6 

Retardation among, in New York 
City 107 

Enrollment 

And attendance in six cities 133 

Distributive records of 207 

In Springfield, Ohio 208 



Erie, Pa. 

Retardation in 45, 154 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 97, 156 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

Excessive Age 

Causes of, in Camden 120 

Exempt 

Children in Philadelphia, defects 
of 117 

Eyesight, Defective 

(See Vision.) 



Factory 

Compared with school plant. ... 49 

Failures 

Under different rates of promo- 
tion 148 

Habit of 220 

Training in ". . 220 

Falkner, Roland P. 

Reference to article by 36 

Fitchburg, Mass. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 5 ^ 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 180 

Flexible Grading 

Systems of 193 

Batavia system of 194 

Cambridge plan of. 194 

Foreign Born 

Pupils in elementary and high 

schools 110-114 

Children, classes for 197 

Foreign Parentage 

Population of, in United States. . 104 
Pupils of 1 10-1 14 



INDEX 



22 7 



Fort Wayne, Ind. 

Retardation in 45, 154 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96, 156 

Promotions in 143 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency. . 180 



Germans 

Retardation among 6 

Retardation among, in New York 
City 107 

Germany 

Illiteracy in 105 

Illiteracy in army and navy 185 

Glands, Enlarged 

Retarding effect of 



127-8 

Grade Distribution 

In 386 cities 13 

In North Carolina 14 

In Tennessee 15 

In Utah 16 

In Chicago 20 

In three cities 33 

In Boston 50 

In Somerville 53 

In Reading 54 

In cities and villages as given by 

Commissioner of Education.. 72 

In Columbus 91 

In 752 cities, by sexes 152 

In Cleveland 178 

Grades and High Schools 

Compared with beginners 55 

Grading 

Flexible 193 



Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Persistence of attendance in 138 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 180 

Greenwood, James M. 
Quotation from 



39 



Grand Rapids, Mich. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 



Haverhill, Mass. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 63 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Foreign pupils in 1 1 1 

Promotions in 143 

Index of efficiency 180 

Attendance in 186 

Helter, H. H. 

Card of 190 

High School 

Retention of pupils through, in 

fifty-one cities 64 

Membership of 150 

Hillis, Newell D wight 

Quotation from 103 

Hoboken, N. J. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 97 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 181 

Houston, Texas 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 172 

Illinois- 
Index of efficiency 182 

Illiteracy 

In the United States and other 

countries 104 

In Germany 185 

Index of Efficiency 

For fifty-eight cities i So 



228 



INDEX 



Index of Efficiency Cont'd. 

By states 182 

For large cities 184 

Individual (Continuous record) 209 

Irish- 
Retardation among 6 

Retardation among, in New York 
City 107 

Italians 

Retardation among 6 

Retardation among, in New York 
City 107 



Jersey City, N. J. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 97 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Membership of three final grades 

in 179 

Index of efficiency 181 

Comment on school census 191 

Johnstown, Pa. 

Withdrawals in 101 

Joplin, Mo. 

Attendance in 186 



Kansas City, Mo. 

Promotions in 27 

Retardation in 45, 154, 171 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 74, 95-97, 156 

Rate of progress in 87 

Foreign born pupils in no 

Enrollment and attendance in... 133 

Persistence of attendance in 138 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Retention of pupils 162 

Retardation for a series of years 171 



Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 180 

Kindergarten 

Effect of. . . 



219 

Kingston, N. Y. 

Retardation in 45, 154 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 97, 156 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Index of efficiency ' 180 

Language Difficulty 

In New York and Porto Rico. . . 108 

In Camden and Trenton 109 

Lockstep 

In education 193 

Los Angeles, Cal. 

Retardation in 45, 154, 171 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Retardation for a series of years 171 
Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

Louisville, Ky. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Promotions in 143 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 



INDEX 



22 9 



Lowell, Mass. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Repeaters in 96 

Index of efficiency 180 

Lynn, Mass. 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 172 



Maiden, Mass. 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96 

Promotions in 143 

Attendance in 186 

Manhattan 

Investigation in 2 

Mansfield, Ohio 

Attendance certificate 190 

Massachusetts 

Index of efficiency 182 

Maxwell, William H. 

Reference to report of I 

McCallie, J. M. 

Quotation from 



109 



Measurements 
Standards of.. 



219 

Medford, Mass. 

Retardation in 3, 45, 48 

Age distribution 51 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Elimination in 60 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96 

Withdrawals in 99 

Promotions in 143 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 180 

Medical Inspection of Schools 

Volume on 2 

In Tasmania 198 



Memphis, Tenn. 

Retardation in 3, 39, 45, 48 

Grade distribution in 33 

Age and grade distribution in. . . 37 
Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 97 

Index of efficiency 181 

Meriden, Conn. 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 180 

Milwaukee, Wis. 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Attendance in 193 

Minneapolis, Minn. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 
school 64 

Reference to newspaper article 
from 89 

Repeaters in 97 

Defective children in 131 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 172 

Miscellaneous Defects 

Retarding effect of 127 

Missouri 

Index of efficiency 182 



Nationalities 

Bearing of, on school progress. . . 6 
Retardation by, in New York 
City 107 

Newark, N. J. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 



2 3 



INDEX 



Newark, N. j.Cotti'd. 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 181 

Newark, Ohio 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 
school 64 

Index of efficiency 180 

New Bedford, Mass. 

Comment on school census 192 

New Britain, Conn. 

Foreign pupils in 112 



New Brunswick, N. J. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 97 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 181 

New Haven, Conn. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Beginners computed by Thorn- 
dike 68 

Repeaters in 97, 156 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

New Jersey 

Index of efficiency 182 

Newmayer, S. W. 

Reference to study of 1 18 

New Orleans, La. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 



Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 63 

Repeaters in 97 

Foreign born pupils in no 

Persistence of attendance in 138 

Attendance and promotions in .. 138 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 

Index of efficiency 181 

Newport, R. I. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Index of efficiency 180 

Newton, Mass. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 180 

New York City, N. Y. 

Retardation in i, 4, 45, 46, 48, 107 

Investigation conducted in 2 

Causes of retardation in 4 

Promotions in 27 

Retardation in, by sexes 46 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Special promotions in 76 

Time in school of pupils in 79 

Extent of slow, rapid and normal 

progress of children in 80-83 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96 

Retardation in, by nationalities. 107 

Language difficulty in 108 

Physical defects and progress in 123 

Enrollment and attendance in.. 133 

Promotions in 143 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 172 



INDEX 



2 3 I 



New York City, N. Y.Cont'd. 

Index of efficiency 181 

Special classes for foreigners in. . 197 

Individual continuous record 211 

New York State 

Index of efficiency 182 

Normal 

Progress, statistics of 74 

Progress, extent of, in New York 
City 80 

Children, defects of, by grades 121 

Normal Ages 

In each grade 38 

North Carolina 

Grade distribution in r4 

Norway 

Illiteracy in 105 

Oakland, Cal. 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 173 

Ogden, Utah 

Absence excuse 188 

Ohio 

Index of efficiency.. . . 182 



Omaha, Neb. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 173 

Passaic, N. J. 

Grade distribution in 33 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 97 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 181 

Paterson, N. J. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 



Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 97 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 1 73 

Index of efficiency 181 

Pawtucket, R. I. 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 173 

Pearson, Karl 

Formula of 163 

Pennsylvani a 

Index of efficiency 182 

Philadelphia, Pa. 

Grade distribution 33 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- r-^ 

pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Special promotions in 76 

Rate of progress in 87 

Reference to newspaper article . . 89 

Repeaters in 97 

Exempt children in 117 

Enrollment and attendance 133 

Promotions in 143 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 1 73 

Index of efficiency 181 

Physical Defects 

Retardation caused by 5, 127-8 

Of exempt children in Philadel- 
phia 117 

By grades and ages 121 

By sexes 122 

And progress among New York 

City children 123 

Retarding effect of 127-8 

In Sioux City 130 

In Chicopee 131 

In Minneapolis 131 

And progress 198 

Population 

Factor of 21-22 

Portland, Me. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 



2 3 2 



INDEX 



Portland, Me. Cont'd. 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 1 73 

Index of efficiency 180 

Portland, Ore. 

Retardation in 45, 171 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96 

Foreign born pupils in no 

Retardation for a series of years 171 
Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 1 73 

Index of efficiency 180 

Porto Rico 

Language difficulty in 108 

Persistence of attendance in 138 

Progress 

Statistics of normal, slow and 

rapid 74 

Rates of, in New York City 78 

Extent of slow, rapid and normal, 

in New York City 80-83 

Rapid and slow, in Baltimore 84 

Of average child 84 

Rates of, in twenty-nine cities.. . 87 
And defects among children in 

New York City 123 

And physical defects 198 

And transfers 198 

Promotions 

In five cities 27 

Special, in five cities 76 

And attendance in three cities... 138 

In sixteen cities 143 

Average rate 144 

Failures under different rates of 148 

By sexes, in two cities 156 

Importance of 199 

Providence, R. I. 

Promotions in 143 

School census in 202 

Prussia 

Compulsory attendance in 185 



PSYCHOLOGICAL CLINIC - 
Reference to article in 36, 1 1 7 

Psychological Effect 

Of retardation 220 



Quincy, Mass. 

Retention in 4 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Elimination in 60 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins-. 63 

Retention of pupils through high 

. school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 97 

Index of efficiency 180 



Rapid 

Progress, statistics of 74 

Pupils, in five cities 76 

Progress, extent of, in New York 

City 80 

Progress, in Baltimore 84 

Rate 

Of progress, of New York chil- 
dren 78 

Of progress, in twenty-nine cities 87 

Of promotion, average 144 

Reading, Pa. 

Retardation in 45, 154 

Grade distribution 54 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 97 

Foreign pupils in 113 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 173 

Index of efficiency 181 

Records 

Distributive, importance of 207 

Continuous individual 209 

Repeaters 

Number of, in three cities 74 



INDEX 



2 33 



Repeaters Confd. 

Per cent of, in three cities 75 

In three cities 95 

In fifty-five cities 96 

How computed 206 

Retardation 

Process of 8 

Factor of 2 1-26 

In thirty-one cities 43~45 

Causes of, in New York City 78 

By nationalities in New York 

City 107 

In six cities for a series of years . . 171 
Psychological effect of 220 

Retarded Pupils 

In thirty-one cities 43~45 

Defects of, by grades 121 

In six cities for a series of years. . 171 

Retarding Effect 

Of physical defects 127 

Retention of Pupils 

Through high schools in fifty-one 

cities 64 

In cities having large foreign 

populations 115 

In thirty-seven cities 162 

Rhode Island 

Index of efficiency 182 

Richmond, Va. 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Repeaters in 97 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 173 

Index of efficiency 180 

Russell Sage Foundation 

School investigation conducted by 2 

Russians 

Retardation among 6 

Retardation among, in New York 
City 107 

St. Louis, Mo. 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 
school 64 

Beginners computed by Thorn- 
dike.. 68 



Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96 

Foreign born pupils in no 

Enrollment and attendance in 

i33> i35>i37 

Retention of pupils 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 173 

Index of efficiency 181 

Salt Lake City, Utah 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Special promotions in 76 

Promotions in 143 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 173 

Membership of three final grades 

in 179 

Index of efficiency 181 

San Antonio, Texas 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 173 

San Francisco, Cal. 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 1 73 

SCHOOL WORK- 

Reference to article in 209 

Sex- 
Relation of, to retardation and 

elimination 6 

Retardation by, in New York 

City 46 

Physical defects by 122 

In high schools 151 

Grade distribution by, in 752 

cities 152 

Retardation by, in fifteen cities.. 154 
Retention by, in thirteen cities. . . 155 
Repeaters by, in fourteen cities.. 156 
Promotions by, in two cities 156 

Sioux City, Iowa 

Defective children in 130 

Slow- 
Progress, statistics of 74 

Pupils, in five cities 76 

Progress, extent of in New York 

City 80 

Progress, in Baltimore 84 

Somerville, Mass. 

Repeaters in 5, 96 

Grade distribution in 53 



2 34 



INDEX 



Somerville, Mass. Cont'd. 

Grades and high schools com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Special promotions in 76 

Promotions in 143 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 173 

Index of efficiency 180 

Attendance in 186 

Special Promotions 

(See Promotions.) 

Springfield, Mass. 

Retardation in 45, 171 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96 

Retardation for a series of years 171 
Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 173 

School census in 202 

Age and grade distribution 205 

Springfield, Ohio 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 74, 95, 96 

Special promotions in 76 

Withdrawals in 99 

Persistence of attendance in 138 

Attendance and promotion in 138 

Promotions in 143 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 180 

Enrollment and attendance in... 208 

Standards 

Of measurement and comparison 219 

Surviving Pupils 

How computed 206 

Sweden 

Illiteracy in 105 



Syracuse, N. Y. 

Persistence of attendance in 138 

Attendance and promotion in 138 

Comment on school census 192 

Tasmania 

Medical inspection in 198 

Teeth, Defective 

Retarding effect of 127-8 

Tennessee 

Grade distribution in 15 

Thorndike, Edward L. 

Quotation from 9 

Reference to monograph by 66 

Elimination results of, compared 
with those of author 67, 71 

Time in School 

Of New York City pupils 79 

Compared with age at starting 166-69 

Tonsils, Hypertrophied 

Retarding effect of 12 7-8 

Transfers 

And progress 198 

Cards 214 

Trenton, N. J. 

Retardation in 45, 154 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Language difficulty in 108 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Repeaters in, by sexes 156 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 1 73 

Index of efficiency 181 

Troy, N. Y. 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Rate of progress in 87 

Index of efficiency 181 



Utah- 
Grade distribution in... 16 



INDEX 



235 



Utica, N. Y. 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high schools com- 
pared with beginners S7 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 181 

Vision- 
Tests in Philadelphia 118 

Tests in Camden 119 

Defective, retarding effect of in 

New York City 127-8 

Defective, in Bayonne 130 

Defective, in Cleveland. 130 

Vocational Training 

Movement for. . 



218 



Walker, Francis A. 
Quotation from 



103 

Waltham, Mass. 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Retention of pupils through high 
school 64 

Repeaters in 96 

Washington, D. C. 

Meeting of Department of Super- 
intendence in 20 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 173 

Waterbury, Conn. 

Beginners computed by Thorn- 
dike 68 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 173 

Transfer card 215 

Wheeling, W. Va. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Repeaters in 97 

Promotions in 143 

Promotions by sexes in 156 



Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 173 

Index of efficiency 181 

Attendance report in 187 

Whipple, Guy Montrose 

Formula of 163 

Whittemore, Gilbert E. 

Reference to report of 202 

Wilkes Barre, Pa. 

Promotions in 143 

Promotions by sexes in 156 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years 173 

Williamsport, Pa. 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 56 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through the 

high school 64 

Repeaters in 74, 95, 96, 162 

Promotions in 143 

Retardation in, by sexes 154 

Retention in, by sexes 155 

Repeaters in, by sexes 162 

Index of efficiency 181 

Wilmington, Del. 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 55,57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 96 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Variation of conditions over a 

series of years 173 

Index of efficiency 180 

Withdrawals 

Causes of, in six cities 9 

Woonsocket, R. I. 

Retardation in 45 

Grades and high school com- 
pared with beginners 57 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in 97 

Retention of pupils in 162 

Index of efficiency 181 



236 



INDEX 



Worcester, Mass. 

Beginners computed by Thorn- 
dike \ 68 

Variation of conditions over a 
series of years. 1 73 

Work, Hervey B. 

Report of . 187 



York, Pa. 

Retardation in. 



45 



Grades and high schoa com- 
pared with beginners 55 

Grade in which elimination be- 
gins 62 

Retention of pupils through high 

school 64 

Rate of progress in 87 

Repeaters in. . . .- 96 

Index of efficiency 181 




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