no, 1 C7
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS BULLETIN
Vol. XX June 4, 1923 No. 40
[Entered as second-class matter December 11, 1912, at the post office at Urbana, Illinois, under the
Act of August 24, 1912. Acceptance for mailing at the special rate of postage provided for in
Section 1103, Act of October 3, 1917, authorized July 31, 1918.]
EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH CIRCULAR NO. 19
BUREAU OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH
COLLEGE OF EDUCATION
PROVISIONS FOR EXCEPTIONAL
CHILDREN IN 191 ILLINOIS
Associate, Bureau of Educational Research
PUBLISHED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Provisions for Exceptional Children in 191 Illinois Cities
Introduction. Numerous investigations have demonstrated the
fact that children of the same chronological age exhibit differences of
five years or more in mental age, and that even tho they may have
had the same number of years of schooling, they will be found scat-
tered through several grades in a typical school. The number of
children who differ widely from "normal" or "average" is much
greater than has generally been suspected. 1 For several years our
attention has been directed to mentally defective children and to
those who are greatly retarded in their school career. Authorities
have urged that mentally defective children be removed from the
regular classroom and also that children conspicuously backward in
their school work, even when not feeble-minded, be instructed in special
classes. This has been advocated both for the welfare of such children
and for the remainder of the school. The amount of literature appear-
ing on this subject during recent years indicates the widespread inter-
est in these children on the lower levels of intelligence. The subject
has attained considerable popularity even among laymen. On the
other hand we find only a very limited number of reports and dis-
cussions pertaining to gifted children. Until very recently it appears
that the schools have shown considerable indifference in regard to
making special provision for these superior pupils. The theory seems
to have been that gifted children take care of themselves but that
mentally defective and retarded children by virtue of their back-
wardness create school problems which can not well be ignored.
The word "exceptional" is used in this report to designate those
children, both dull and gifted, whose mental capacities differ con-
spicuously from the "normal" or "average." The term "gifted"
is used to describe those children who exhibit exceptionally high
degrees of mental ability, and in this investigation includes from 7
to 10 percent of all children of a given chronological age. The "dull"
or "backward" group includes approximately 10 percent, of which
not more than 1 percent may be considered mentally defective.
There are pupils who can not keep pace with the normal work of the
x Woodrow, Herbert. "Brightness and Dullness in Children". Philadelphia: J. B.
Lippincott and Company, 1919, p. 13.
class and yet many of them could do much of it satisfactorily if they
were allowed to proceed more slowly, and if their work were restricted
to the minimum essentials. Woodrow 1 has distinguished between
the terms "backward" and "dull." The former is used to designate
children who appear to be dull but whose dullness is only apparent or
temporary. The "dull" child is one whose mental inferiority is innate
and presumably permanent. This distinction, however, is not perti-
nent to our purpose and is not made easily except by a trained psy-
chologist. Consequently, we shall use both of these terms to refer to
children whose capacities to do the work of the school appear to be
distinctly below that of the normal or average child.
Purpose and plan of this investigation. In October, 1922, a
questionnaire was sent from the Bureau of Educational Research
to all city superintendents in Illinois having six or more teachers in
their elementary school. The purpose of this questionnaire was to
collect information concerning the provisions which these schools
were making for both classes of exceptional children. One hundred
and ninety-one replies were received. Most of them were from re-
latively small school systems but the list includes such places as
Galesburg, East x^urora, Danville, Rock Island, and Joliet. In tabu-
lating the data, the questionnaires were divided into two groups on
the basis of the elementary school population of the cities from which
reports were received. Group I includes 134 cities having elementary
school populations of less than 800; Group II includes 57 cities whose
elementary school populations are over 800. The content of the
questionnaire will be apparent from the tables of this report.
Kindergartens and sub-primary classes. One section of the
questionnaire called for information relating to certain features of
the general plan of organization of the school system which have a
bearing upon the provisions made for exceptional children. The re-
plies to the first section of the questionnaire are summarized in Table
I. The frequencies are given in terms of percents. Thus the table
should be read: 5 percent of the cities in Group I maintain a kinder-
garten; 7 percent maintain sub-primary classes, and 88 percent admit
entering pupils to the first grade. In the typical Illinois school system
beginning pupils enter the first grade at about six years of age. The
school law grants to boards of education the power to establish kinder-
^oodrow, Herbert. "Brightness and Dullness of Children." Philadelphia: J. B.
Lippincott and Company, 1919, p. 54.
TABLE I. GENERAL PLAN OF ORGANIZATION OF 191 SCHOOL SYSTEMS
(Frequencies given in terms of percents.)
Elementary School Enrollment
Types of organization which children enter
Plans of promotion
Semi-annual. . .
Irregular 1 .
On trial. . .
Promotion or demotion granted in special cases other than at the end of the semester or year.
gartens for the instruction of children between the ages of four and
six if, in their judgment, the public interest requires it. Table I
shows that kindergartens have been established in one city in every
five in Group II; and in only one city in every twenty of Group I.
Judging from the comments entered upon some of the blanks the
practise with regard to kindergartens is not uniform. In Lyons,
children who are between six and six and one-half years of age enter
the kindergarten but those who are more than six and one-half enter
the first grade. Belvidere permits five-year old pupils to enter the
kindergarten and those who have passed their sixth birthday to go
into the first grade. In East St. Louis, a kindergarten is maintained
in the summer to help beginning pupils who are entering the first
grade in September. Quincy has a kindergarten in only two buildings
out of thirteen. In Joliet, children enter the kindergarten in nine
buildings and the first grade in the other twelve.
Seventeen cities having no kindergarten maintain sub-primary
or pre-primary classes. The work of these classes appears to differ
from that of the kindergartens in being more formal and more directly
preparatory to the reading taught in the first grade. In East Aurora,
children entering school in January are placed in a sub-primary
class. Those who enter in September "with little or no experience
with school life" are assigned to a sub-primary for the first semester.
In Johnson City, sub-primary classes are maintained in all buildings
and children admitted at the age of six remain in them until they have
mastered the primer and are ready to take up the first reader. Usu-
ally this requires about one semester.
In the case of both kindergartens and sub-primary classes one
purpose is to give preliminary training to children who are judged
incapable of doing the regular work of the school. However, in most
cases children are selected for these classes on the basis of chronologi-
cal age rather than according to some measure of their capacity to do
the work of the first grade. Therefore, it is undoubtedly true that
many pupils, who could do satisfactorily the work of the first grade at
the time they enter school, are required to spend a semester or longer
in these classes. On the other hand an important service is rendered
to children who are less capable.
Plan of promotion. Annual promotion is most typical of small
school systems but in those schools enrolling more than 800 children
in the first eight grades slightly more than three-fifths are organized
on the basis of semi-annual promotion. However, Table 1 shows that
significant modifications of the general plan of promotion are allowed
in most schools, as over 80 percent permit promotion or demotion at
times other than the end of the semester or year. A slightly larger
percent promote pupils on trial. Wheaton and Kewanee have annual
promotion with semi-annual promotion in special cases. Auburn has
"mostly annual promotion but is gradually changing to the semi-
annual. " Urbana is also making the change to semi-annual promotion.
Glen Ellyn "demotes by the end of the second month after the opening
of school or after entering the Glen Ellyn schools and promotes at
any time the child is able to carry the work of the next grade."
Downers Grove reports frequent re-adjustments by subjects. Ran-
toul, Naperville, Dixon, Lebanon, Forrest, and Charleston made re-
adjustments whenever it seems best for the pupil. Piano and Streator
promote and demote at any time that the teacher, principal, and
superintendent advise such action. Morris makes re-adjustments
upon the basis of standardized tests and daily classwork. A number
of cities indicate that re-adjustments are seldom made after the first
month or six weeks of the school year.
Both groups of schools follow the practise of promoting some
pupils who have failed with the understanding that they may re-
main in the advanced grade if their work is satisfactory. Hebron
states that such trial promotions are made if the pupils pass intelli-
gence tests showing that they are capable of doing the advanced
work. Jerseyville promotes on trial if the failure is in only one or
two subjects. Downers Grove conditions pupils promoted on trial
for two months. Areola makes provisional promotions with the under-
standing that certain work be done during the vacation. Similar
practise is followed in Riverside where a six months summer school is
maintained for this purpose. Rantoul reports five pupils promoted
on trial last year and states that all made good. On the other hand
Spring Valley is "discouraging the practise of trial promotions."
It is clear from the replies to this portion of the questionnaire that
most superintendents are recognizing the necessity of making the
organization of their school system more flexible so as to provide for
the individual differences of pupils. It is significant that more than
80 percent of the superintendents report special promotions and pro-
motions on trial. This seems to indicate a distinct attempt on their
part to give the child an educational opportunity commensurate with
his ability to do the work of the school.
Special provisions for gifted children. Flexibility in the system of
promotion represents only one type of provision for exceptional
children, namely rate of progress through the school system. All
pupils study the same curriculum and are taught in the same classes
and by the same methods. The questionnaire asked superintendents
to indicate their practise with reference to five plans for providing
for gifted children; enriched curriculum, rapid progress sections,
extra promotions, special help classes, and special rooms. Their re-
plies are summarized in Table II, which is to be read as follows: 28
percent of the cities in Group I report an enriched curriculum for
gifted children in grades I, II, and III; 33 percent, in grades IV, V,
VI; and 39 percent in grades VII and VIII.
Gifted children are given extra promotion in about one-half of
the cities. This occurs more frequently in those cities of Group II
where semi-annual promotion prevails in 63 percent of the school
systems. No information was secured in regard to the number of
extra promotions which a pupil might receive, or the percent of pupils
who were given extra promotions. It is worthy of note that extra
promotions are given least frequently in the seventh and eighth grades.
This is probably due to the belief that the subject matter of these
grades is of such a nature that pupils who skip a year or a half-year
will be handicapped in their future work. Less than one-fifth of the
schools report rapid progress sections. It is likely that most super-
intendents would agree that advancement by means of rapid progress
sections is more desirable than by extra promotions. However, the
latter plan calls for no changes in the organization of the school.
Thus the fact that a larger percent of the schools grant extra pro-
motions should not be interpreted to mean that the plan is considered
more desirable than the rapid progress section in making provision
for rapid advancement through the school system.
Nearly one-third of the schools report an enriched curriculum
for gifted children. No attempt was made to ascertain the method
and amount of enrichment but occasional comments on the question-
naire blanks indicated that various practises were followed. Barton-
ville assigns special reports in history and literature. Morris, De Pue,
Gilman, Jerseyville, Athens, Freeport, Milledgeville, Sheldon, Salem,
Washington, and Oglesby require extra assignments in various sub-
jects. In all of these cases the pupil retains his membership in the
grade and carries on most of his work with the regular class. Piano
and Washington permit gifted pupils to study an additional subject.
Henry "offers a course in violin to those in grades V to VIII who feel
that they have time for it." Batavia has three parallel courses of
study in English and Arithmetic in all grades.
Special help classes appear to be maintained to assist bright
children who have fallen behind because of illness or some other un-
avoidable cause. Some pupils are assigned to such a class for a short
time when they receive extra promotion in order that the gap created
by the work skipped can be partially bridged over. A special room for
gifted children is found in only three cities, except in the seventh and
eighth grades. Altho our questionnaire contained no information on
the point, it is likely that the special rooms in the seventh and eighth
grades occur in junior high schools or in those schools in which the
instruction has been departmentalized.
A number of superintendents stated that they preferred making
provision for gifted children by means of an enriched curriculum
rather than by permitting rapid advancement through extra pro-
motions or rapid progress sections. However, Table II shows that
extra promotion is the most frequent plan of providing for gifted
children. It is probably true that few children gain more than one or
two years before completing eighth grade. Many educators maintain
that it is unwise to permit children to enter the high school before
they have reached the normal age for entrance. Younger children,
TABLE II. TYPES OF PROVISIONS FOR GIFTED CHILDREN
(Frequencies are in terms of percents)
I, II, III
IV, V, VI
^roup I — towns with elementary school population under 800.
Group II — towns with elementary school population over 800.
they claim, are frequently socially immature and have omitted some
of the essential aspects of their education. It is highly desirable that
this point of view be recognized in interpreting the facts presented
in Table II.
Special provisions for dull and backward children. The pro-
visions for dull and backward children listed in the questionnaire
correspond closely to those for gifted children. Failure requiring the
repetition of work was not mentioned as it is assumed that all schools
require some pupils to repeat the work of a grade or of a subject when
the pupil is considered to have failed. Table III summarizes the
information which was gathered with reference to the provisions for
dull and backward children. An ungraded room is maintained in
several of the larger school systems. However, it seems to fulfil a
variety of functions. In some schools it is a room to which subnormal
children are sent in order to remove them from the regular classes.
In others, it is used as a room to which pupils who are doing unsatis-
factory work may be sent to receive special assistance until they are
adjudged able to do the regular work of their grade. In some sys-
tems, the ungraded room is used as a place to which pupils who create
teaching or disciplinary difficulties may be sent. In other school
systems, however, it is a room in which the instruction, the curricu-
lum, and the rate of progress are adapted to the mental capacities
of dull and backward children.
Special help classes are maintained in several of the larger school
systems. These are generally conducted by a visiting teacher or
TABLE III. SCHOOL SYSTEMS PROVIDING FOR DULL AND BACKWARD
(Frequencies are given in terms of percents)
I, II, III
*Group I — towns with elementary school population under 800.
Group II — towns with elementary school population over 800.
some one other than the regular classroom teacher. Champaign, by
dividing the time of certain special teachers between different build-
ings so that those children not doing satisfactory work may receive
additional help, has carried on this type of work for several years.
As the number of pupils assigned to such a teacher is generally small
an opportunity is given her to become acquainted with the pupils'
particular difficulties and to apply effective remedial instruction.
In some school systems the principal or assistant principal devotes a
part of his time to this type of work.
Individual assistance by the regular classroom teacher at some
time other than the regular class period is the most frequent method
of providing for dull and backward children. Nearly two-thirds of
the schools give assistance of this type. Some of the replies stated
that teachers require such children either to remain after school or to
return before school in the morning or afternoon in order to receive
special help. Such a plan requires no change in the organization of the
school and is doubtless effective in some cases. However, many dull
and backward children need more than assistance. They do not have
the capacity to advance at the normal rate and should be permitted
more time to do the work. Occasionally they should have a modified
Dull and backward children, when taught in the regular classes,
can not be said to complete the entire curriculum. The quality of
their work automatically eliminates many of the more difficult topics,
and their efforts are not concentrated upon the minimum essentials
of the course. Less than one-fourth of the schools included in this
investigation report that they are attempting to reduce the curricu-
lum to the minimum essentials for the dull and backward students.
It is significant that slightly fewer schools are attempting to adapt the
curriculum to dull and backward students than are maintaining an
enriched curriculum for gifted children. No information was secured
in regard to the reason for this condition. One can only speculate
as to the probable cause. It is not unlikely that superintendents and
teachers find it more difficult to eliminate topics than to add them.
Provisions for mentally defective children. The vast amount of
literature on this subject leads one to expect a large number of
schools to be making some special provision for mentally defective
children. We find, however, that in the group of schools included in
this investigation only a few maintain a special room or a special
school for mental defectives. In Group I, 6 percent of the schools
reported a special room. In Group II, 21 percent maintain a special
room and 2 percent a special school. Several superintendents ex-
pressed an interest in this type of work and also the hope that they
would be able in the future to make some provision for these atypical
children. Others indicated that the number of such children in their
school system was so small that the organization of a special class did
not appear to be justified. This is probably one reason why such pro-
vision is found in so few of these school systems.
Methods of selecting exceptional children. A prerequisite to
making adequate provision for exceptional children is an efficient
method of identifying them. School records and teachers' estimates
have been found unreliable in many cases, particularly with gifted
children who have not been given an opportunity to demonstrate
their ability. It is therefore advisable to make use of intelligence
tests for this purpose. The most accurate measures of the mental
capacity of children can be obtained by an individual intelligence test
such as the Stanford Revision of the Binet-Simon Scale. With this
scale, however, it is necessary to examine each 'child separately and
the time required makes its use almost prohibitive except for a limited
number of pupils. Thus it is advisable that one or more group in-
telligence tests be administered to all children in the school. The
following are among the best for this purpose:
Dearborn Group Test of Intelligence, Series I, Revised Edition
Grades I to III
This battery of tests consists of general examinations A and B. Both examinations
are intended to be given at the same time. This group of general intelligence tests has
been found to yield very satisfactory results but they are rather difficult to administer
and require considerable time.
J. B. Lippincott Company, 227 S. Sixth Street, Philadelphia, $4.50
Dearborn Group Test of Intelligence, Series II, Revised Edition
Grades IV to IX
This series of general intelligence tests consists of two parts — general examination
C and general examination D. They are non-verbal in character.
/. B. Lippincott Company, 227 S. Sixth Street, Philadelphia, $4.50
Detroit First Grade Intelligence Tests
World Book Company, 2126 Prairie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, fcJSo
Haggerty Intelligence Examinations
Delta I, Grades I to III
Delta II, Grades III to IX
World Book Company, 2126 Prairie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, Delta I, $7>28; Delta II, $6.93
Illinois General Intelligence Scale
Grades III to VIII
This scale is included in the Illinois Examination.
Public School Publishing Company, Bloomington, Illinois, $2
Kingsbury Primary Group Intelligence Scale, Form A
Public School Publishing Company, Bloomington, Illinois, $2.50
National Intelligence Tests
Scale A and Scale B
Forms 1 and 2 of each scale
Grades III to VIII
Scale A and Scale B may be used separately, altho it is recommended that both
be used in order to insure more reliable measures.
World Book Company, 2126 Prairie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, $6£o
Otis Group Intelligence Scale, Primary Examination
Forms A and B
Grades I to IV
World Book Company, 2126 Prairie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, $6.60
Otis Group Intelligence Scale, Advanced Examination
Forms A and B
Grades VII to XII
World Book Company, 2126 Prairie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, $7.80
Pressey Primary Classification Test
Grades I and II
This is a revision of the original Pressey Primer Scale which has been widely used.
Public School Publishing Company, Bloomington, Illinois, $1.50
Pressey Intermediate Classification Test
Grades III to VI
Forms A and B
Public School Publishing Company, Bloomington, Illinois, $1.25
Pressey Senior Classification Tests
Grades VII and VIII
Forms A and B
Public School Publishing Company, Bloomington, Illinois, $1.25
Where there is disagreement between the scores obtained from
two or more group intelligence tests or where the score of a single
test does not correspond with the child's school record or the estimate
of his teacher it is advisable, in order to determine more accurately
his mental capacity, to administer an individual test. Before finally
classifying a child as "gifted" or "dull and backward" one should take
into account several other factors such as attitude toward the school,
health, previous school experience, etc.
The neglect of exceptional children. It is clear from the facts
collected in this investigation that many school systems in Illinois
have recognized the problem of making special provisions for ex-
ceptional children. They have found the single curriculum unsatis-
factory. Some children will not be able to do the work satisfactorily
even when required to repeat the work of one or more grades. Gifted
children will not find a sufficient challenge to their mental capacities.
Several will be misfits in the school. Many cities are gradually work-
ing out plans of adapting the school to the individual differences of
their children. However, the information gathered in this investiga-
tion shows that in most schools exceptional children are not receiving
adequate educational opportunities. Eighty-two percent in Group
I and 67 percent in Group II have no other plan for the bright child
than extra promotion; 78 percent in Group I and 77 percent in Group
II provide only individual assistance for their dull children. If we
exclude these two methods, which are at best inadequate, fewer than
one-third of the schools reporting indicate the use of any one plan
of providing for exceptional children. The replies to the question-
naire indicate that a number of superintendents realize the importance
of this problem but are doubtful as to the value of the particular
methods in use. Thus the situation at present seems to show that
most of the schools in Illinois recognize the fact that more adequate
provision should be made for exceptional children and feel that a
satisfactory solution of the problem has not yet been reached.
CIRCULARS OF THE BUREAU OF EDUCATIONAL
RESEARCH, COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, UNI-
VERSITY OF ILLINOIS, URBANA, ILLINOIS.
No. 12. Monroe, Walter S. Announcements of the Bureau
of Educational Research for 1922-23.
No. 13. Monroe, Walter S. Definitions of the Terminology
of Educational Measurements.
No. 14. Streitz, Ruth. Gifted Children and Provisions for
Them in Our Schools.
No. 15. Monroe, Walter S. Educational Tests for Use in
No. 16. Odell, Charles W. The Effect of Attendance Upon
No. 17. Mohlman, Dora Keen. The Elementary School
No. 18. Monroe, Walter S. Educational Tests for Use in
No. 19. Streitz, Ruth. Provisions for Exceptional Children
in 191 Illinois Cities.
A limited number of copies of these educational circulars
are available for free distribution to superintendents and
teachers in Illinois. We shall be glad to add to our mailing
list for these circulars the names of any teachers or superin-
tendents who care to receive them regularly. We shall be
glad also to send additional copies of any circular to
superintendents or principals for distribution among their
teachers. Address all communications to the Bureau of Edu-
cational Research, University of Illinois.