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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
BUREAU OF EDUCATION, Washington, February 3, 1912.
SIR: The best interests of education demand that there should be adequate and uniform methods and forms of collecting and recording statistics of schools of all kinds in all the States, cities, and rural districts of the Union. The work of collecting, compiling, and interpreting statistics in the Bureau of Education would be greatly helped by this. This bureau, therefore, welcomes the interest in this work which has developed in recent years among school officers throughout the country and which has caused the department of superintendence of the National Education Association to appoint a committee on uniform records and reports. The Commissioner of Education and the Chief of the Division of School Administration of the bureau have cooperated with this committee at its request, and the bureau has lent it all possible aid and assistance. The report of this committee on uniform records and reports contains many recommendations and suggestions regarding forms and the method of using them, which will be of great benefit to the schools in all parts of the country. I therefore recommend that it be published as a bulletin of the Bureau of Education.
The SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.
P. P. CLAXTON,
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON UNIFORM
RECORDS AND REPORTS.
To the Department of Superintendence of the National Education Association: Your committee on uniform records and reports has, since the last meeting of the department, continued its work along the lines indicated in the preliminary report submitted at that meeting. That progress has been made is indicated by statistics which were gathered by the United States Bureau of Education showing that 216 cities are now using the cumulative record card, and that 418 cities are able to report their fiscal statistics on the form which was recommended by this committee in cooperation with the United States Bureau of Education, the Census Office, and the Association of School Accounting Officers. We believe that the work which has been begun by our committee should be continued by a permanent committee whose duty it should be to suggest from time to time such improvements in records and reports as may be determined by their study of the situation.
The report which follows is divided into the following sections: (1) Records and reports for State school systems; (2) records and reports for city school systems; (3) pupil records with special reference to the cumulative record card; and (4) the report of fiscal statistics. Accompanying this discussion there are presented as separate documents, the cumulative record card recommended by the committee; the form for reporting fiscal statistics, which was prepared in conference with the Bureau of Education, the Census Office, and the Association of School Accounting Officers, and which is now furnished to cities by the Bureau of Education; and the form for a teacher's register.
In dealing with that section of its work which relates to State accounting and reports the committee appreciates fully that the legislation of the various States has a most important bearing on the practicability of uniformity in matters of detail. On some points this legislation has to do with matters of fundamental concern to the States, and modification of it is extremely unlikely. Such for example are statutes dealing with the distribution of State school funds. Such funds are secured in a considerable variety of ways, and this distribution is arranged on various bases satisfactory to the legislatures
of the different States. While there will doubtless be an increasing recognition of the basic principles that should govern such distribution and this recognition will lead to a certain degree of uniformity in the bases of distribution selected, it is hardly conceivable that local considerations will not continue to govern largely such plans. Recognizing this and other differences, it is clear that the statistics of the States must in a considerable measure conform to definitions, terms, and methods that comply with local statutes and conditions.
The committee does not regard it as essential to the purposes of this report to deal, beyond this explanatory reference, with these necessary points of difference. The following recommendations it hopes will prove a constructive contribution to the part that may be taken by the State departments in securing reasonable uniformity in reporting and in attaining a more efficient publicity through official reports.
The forms to be employed by States in gathering statistics should be similar in general form and arrangement to those used by the National Bureau. The committee recognizes that an important step toward uniformity in reporting will be to present to the various reporting officers of the country statistical forms as nearly as practicable, uniform in terms, definitions, and arrangement.
If it could be made possible for the local officer to report both to the State and to the National bureau on practically the same basis, 'distinct gains both in accuracy and in uniformity would accrue.
The committee recognizes the great desirability of an arrangement whereby the statistics of the Bureau of Education as relating to units within the several States might be gathered through the various State departments of education. Such a plan would obviate the necessity of a second reporting by local officers, while it would doubtless increase the means at the disposal of the Bureau of Education for securing statistics from the local units. This plan of reporting to the Bureau of Education through the State offices the committee recommends for adoption as early as practicable. It sees no reason why it may not be adopted by those States that are in position to make such cooperative arrangements, even though all State departments may not be able to make them at once.
In the meantime it repeats the recommendation of its preliminary report, to the effect that State departments in securing statistics from units within the States conform so far as possible to the forms employed by the Bureau of Education, supplementing the points covered therein with those required for local use. These forms, it will be noted, may be issued both in the "long" and the "short" forms for use, respectively, with larger municipalities and with smaller school systems. These forms, issued by the Bureau of Education and approved in conference with this committee, are submitted herewith and made a part of this report.