Jan. 13th, 2017


Below are a pair of entries from the Report of the Committee on College Entrance Requirements of the Secondary School Committee of the National Education Association. While this was released in the summer of 1899, as noted above, it was developed during meetings held over 4 years by the joint committee (Secondary and College) which was appointed at the 1895 NEA annual meeting. The report, itself, starts on page 625 of the book.

Advanced Placement credit long before Advanced Placement tests were created.

VII. Resolved, That the colleges will aid the secondary schools by allowing credit toward a degree for work done in secondary schools, beyond the amount required for entrance, when equal in amount and thoroness to work done in the same subjects in college.

In many, and perhaps most, colleges the plan suggested in the above resolution is already in effect. Such recognition of school work by the colleges will tend to raise the estimation in which the school is held by the community. It will also directly assist the school in its natural effort to induce students to continue their studies in college, for if a student has, on finishing the school course, already one-third or a half year or more of work to his credit that may be counted toward a college degree, this fact constitutes a great incentive for going on with college work. Furthermore, it frequently happens that a student at the end of the last school year has one or two subjects to complete in order to finish the school course. This may happen for a variety of reasons, among which change of school and ill-health are most common. Should the student wish to go to college, two courses are open — either to enter college with conditions, or to remain an additional year in school so as to complete the course. But if the second alternative is adopted, the student, while making up deficiencies, can and should carry one or two additional studies, in order that the year's work may be complete. If these studies cannot be counted for college credit, there is temptation on the part of the student to do light work, and to take only the subjects required, with a tendency to acquire indolent habits of study. If the additional subjects above those required for completing the school course are accepted by the college toward a degree, a strong incentive is offered the student to do the best work possible, and the danger of falling into indolent habits is avoided. This college credit, furthermore, puts into the hands of the school principal one of his strongest arguments for inducing the pupil to remain an additional year at school, so that he may not enter college with conditions. It seems to the committee that there can be no question that the mutual interests of both school and college will be best subserved by making the class of conditioned students as small as possible.

Differential placement in college courses based on preparation:
VIII. Resolved, That for students who have met a definite requirement in any science, and who continue the subject in college, it seems to us desirable that there be provided a suitable sequel to the school course in continuation of the study; such students being in no case placed in the same class with beginners.

It seems to be a somewhat common practice among colleges to accept a subject for entrance, but not to give it credit after the student has been admitted. This is illustrated specifically by the case in which physics is accepted as an entrance requirement, but not required of all students. Student A comes to college and presents a year's good work in physics, done in a high school or academy, as one of his*entrance subjects. Student B has no physics, but presents something else, which is accepted as an entrance equivalent. In college, however, both A and B take precisely the same course in physics, one having had a year's work, with laboratory experiments, the other not having studied the subject at all. This practice is justified by the colleges on two grounds: (r) that the year's work in the high school really, after all, amounts to nothing, and (2) that it is impossible to make two different classes. The latter argument may be disregarded. In some cases it doubtless is true that the teaching force of the college does not permit the organization of two separate classes, and there is no argument with necessity. But the other argument, that the year's work in the high school is not of any value to the college, is refuted by the college itself, in two ways: (1) by accepting this year's work as of full value for entrance to the university, and (2) by allowing university credit for exactly the same sort of work in other subjects, as, for example, in Latin, French, or German. The student who offers French or German for admission to college is not put into the same college classes in either of those subjects with students who have not presented them for entrance, but is always put in an advanced class, and remains there until he has shown his unfitness. The practice of combining in the same college class students who have had previous high-school instruction and those who have not is most common in the sciences, and while physics has been specified above, all of the sciences that are accepted as entrance requirements share equally in this practice. The effect cannot be otherwise than disastrous upon science teaching in the high school, for if a student goes to college with a year's course in science and finds that work totally disregarded by the college authorities, he can but infer that the school work is without value. He is likely to send the report back to the school, and other students will be deterred from taking the course in science, knowing that they will have to do the work over again when they go to college later. The effect on the student himself who, having had a year's work in science, is required to go again over the same ground, to a large extent, alongside of students who have no previous knowledge of the subject, is most unfortunate. Experience totally disproves the argument that such work is in the nature of a thoro review and is, therefore, beneficial to the student. On the contrary, it is distasteful and tiresome. The student is likely to rely upon his previous knowledge and slight the work as much as possible. It frequently happens, therefore, that the student with the entrance-equipment attains no better rank in his class than his fellow who entered without previous knowledge. This does not show, as has been supposed, that the high school is of no value, but it conclusively proves that such repetition is destructive of interest and calculated to foster careless habits of work. The adjustment of college work to a wide range of elective entrance requirements certainly presents many difficulties, but it seems to the committee that, when the colleges have taken the step of offering this wide range of electives, they cannot well stop there, but are bound, so far as possible, to adjust the college work so that the students may not have to repeat in any branch work that has already been done, and presumably, by the college's own recognition of it, well done, in secondary schools.
IX. Resolved, That we approve of encouraging gifted students to complete the preparatory course in less time than is required by most students.

In this resolution the committee desires to approve a principle, rather, than to recommend a definite plan for the application of that principle. Gifted students should be allowed special opportunities quite as much in grades below the secondary school as in the secondary school itself, and it seems probable, indeed, that the saving of time may be expected most advantageously in the lower grades. The subject of the grading of pupils below the secondary school is, however, not in the province of this committee.

In laying out a course of study the average student must be the basis of reckoning, but in the schematization of educational work there is constant danger that the interest of the individual student may not be sufficiently considered. There are students who must take more than the allotted time in which to complete the preparatory course, while there are others who can easily finish the course in less than the schedule time. This can be done, too, without overpressure and consequent injury to health. It is a truism that some students acquire much more readily and easily than others. Modern educators do not accept the doctrine of Helvetius, that all men are by birth endowed with the same natural capacities. Instead of cramping and confining the more gifted students, it is the duty of the secondary school to discover them and to furnish them every opportunity for progress in their work. There are difficulties of administration, caused chiefly by the time schedule, which sometimes cannot be overcome; but it seems to the committee that students have a right to expect that the school officers will use their best efforts to overcome these obstacles, and, so far as is consistent with good administration, offer to the students full opportunity for progress according to their individual capacities.



February 2017


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