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of the Agnew School. This school is in the same school section of Philadelphia as the Northwest, and its pupils are subject to very similar environmental (home, street, and school) influences, many of its pupils being younger brothers or sisters of the grammar-grade pupils of the Northwest School.
The Agnew School paralleled the Northwest in the experimental omission of the same factors in spelling instruction, and in the method of computing and recording the data furnished by the several tests. The subjects of the first and last composition tests were the same for both tests and for all grades of both schools, viz., " A Trip to Fairmount Park.” The fourth test of each school was also based upon the same language exercise. The other papers varied more or less in subject matter, but the exercises were of the same general nature. The length of time devoted to the writing of the papers varied with the nature of the exercise and the pupils writing them. The tasks of the lower grades were shorter, of course, than those given the older pupils, and the individual scholars of a class finished their work in varying times. The composition exercises ranged from twenty minutes to an hour in length, and the other tests required from an hour to two hours for their completion. The variations in the number of words written are, therefore, large, except when similar tests (e.g., first and eighth, third and fifth) are compared. No special relation between the number of words written and the correctness of spelling appears to be discoverable in the tables of results. It may be said that the factor of fatigue does not seem to have entered any more largely into the spelling result when a large number of words was written than when very few were written. The seventh, sixth, and fifth tests, e.g., of the Northwest School, gave the three highest results in number of words, and were fully up to the average in spelling percentage, while the same may be said for the seventh and ninth tests of the Agnew School.
In nine out of ten tests of the Agnew School (i.e., in all but test 1) the girls wrote more words than the boys; and in seven out of eight tests of the Northwest School (in all except
test 5) they also wrote more than the boys. On the average the girls wrote 10% more than the boys (see yearly totals for all grades). This is an interesting difference susceptible of various interpretations. It cannot be of any significance in relation to the question of rate of movement; for there were no time limits set, and carefulness rather than rapidity may be said to have been the ideal of execution upon which emphasis was placed. The greater length of the girls' papers may perhaps be regarded as (a) an index of the greater care expended upon their completion, or (b) of a fuller preparation in and available knowledge of the subject matter of the tests, or (c), of a tendency to greater diffuseness of expression. It is not improbable that all three of these causes were contributory to the result. The papers themselves give evidence of (a) and (b), if not of (c). Whether the greater diligence and care, both in preparation and execution, which the results would seem to indicate, is a natural sex difference, or whether such result would indicate the failure of our courses of study and methods of teaching to appeal to these qualities in the boy, is an important question for pedagogy.
Turning now to the other (spelling) results of the tables, we see (columns 9 and 11) that the increase from grade to grade in spelling percentages proceeds with an even greater regularity than that shown in the fifteen-minute tests. The percentages attained are also uniformly higher than those of the word tests.
These results are graphically shown in Figs. 6 and 7, pp. 52, 53. Only one drop in the curves appears, that of the fourth a grade, Fig. 6. The boys' and the girls' curves parallel each other very closely; but there are important differences between the two schools. The pupils of the Northwest School make their greatest gain in the third a grade; those of the Agnew in the fourth a grade, where the Northwest curve falls off somewhat. The solution of these peculiarities may be found in differences of general effectiveness of the several class teachers, and goes to emphasize the importance of the "personal equation" factor before discussed (pp. 39, 40). Satisfactory proof
of these differences cannot be here recorded. It can only be stated from intimate personal knowledge that they were so obvious that a doubtful judgment need not be rendered. The fourth a classes of the Agnew School and the fourth b classes of the Northwest School had the good fortune to be under the care of experienced and exceptionally skillful teachers; the third b classes of the latter school, however, suffered from the prentice hands of inexperienced and therefore relatively inefficient instructors. The low percentages of these pupils account for the apparently great gain of the third a classes, which are only slightly above the normal in their results.
3a 4b 4a FIG. 6. Data for these curves in Tables XVI and XVII. Northwest School. Increase in spelling percentage from the third to the eighth grade.
The curves show also that the girls have excelled the boys from the lowest to the highest grades. The superiority of result is shown to be greatest in the fourth and fifth school years, and decreases thereafter, until at the eighth year the curves approximate very closely (at 99.5% and 99.4%). In the fourth and fifth years the results are the most irregular, and the rise in the curves is almost zero. These phenomena may be related to the fact that the fifth year marks the beginning of the grammar-school work, and a considerable increase in both the number and difficulty of the requirements of the course of study. That the transition to the more difficult work is made
too abruptly in the absence of any correspondingly sudden natural increase in the physical and mental development of the pupil, and that the fifth-year grade becomes therefore a veritable pons asinorum, is the opinion of many very competent class teachers. If such views truly represent actual and generally prevalent conditions, the problem of correlating the work of the primary and grammar grades of the elementary schools is still a very important one. It would, of course, be unwise, if not absurd, to base any positive conclusions upon the comparatively meagre data which Fig. 6 summarizes and exhibits. The discussion may, however,
suggest the value of the study of the relations between curves of physical growth and development of school children, and those which might be plotted from the investigation of their progress in the several branches of the school curriculum.
It may be noted (Fig. 6) that 35 the rise of the curves is most regular for the sixth, seventh, and eighth years, and that the
girls' show a greater steadiness of improvement than the boys'. The increase in "certainty" of the spelling reaction from grade to grade may be studied in the average variations of the yearly averages from the separate tests (see final columns of tables). This increase is, on the whole, also a regular one. The grammar
grade pupils vary markedly less than do those of the primary grades, and the seventh- and eighth-year pupils have a remarkably small average variation (eighth year: boys, .18%; girls, .05%; boys and girls, .10%). The variations from test to test are shown in Fig. 8 for grammar grades and for primary grades of the Northwest School, and in Fig. 9 for the primary grades of the Agnew School. Fig. 10 shows these variations for the
Northwest School taken as a whole.
All these curves show the
tendency of the boys and the girls to vary in the same direction
FIG. 8. Data for these curves in Tables XVI and XVII. Rise and fall in spelling percentages from test to test, for grammar grades and for
(rise and fall) for the same tests. On the whole there seems to be little gain or loss throughout the successive tests of the
Rise and fall in spelling percentages from test to test for primary grades.
The grammar grades hold a somewhat steadier course than the primary.
In Fig. 10, where results from the largest number of papers are shown, there is some evidence of a slight increase in spelling
FIG. 10. Data for these curves in Tables XVI and XVII.
Rise and fall in spelling percentages from test to test for the school as a whole.
proficiency in the course of the year; there certainly is no evident tendency to a decrease in accuracy. Test 1 (97.1%) of the