Battle of the eighth graders

Webmonk alerted me to a post on Freakonomics about a test for eighth graders from 1895.

The urban legend site Snopes labeled this as “False.” But the only false part of it seems to be the claim that it shows a decline in educational levels from then to now. The Snopes writer says that any test will look hard if you haven’t studied for it.

But he doesn’t dispute that this is an actual test from 1895. In fact, here it is from the library that holds the original document.

What this does show is what eighth graders studied and were expected to learn in 1895.

Take a look at the math section and compare it to this eighth grade math test from today. What can you conclude from the comparison about what was taught in the respective classes?

Finally, speaking of eighth graders, consider this.

HT: Webmonk

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    I can attest to the fact that most 8th graders or even 9th and 10th graders cannot properly address an envelope and many cannot write (actually using a pen or pencil) legibly. I suspect this is due to the advent of personal electronics and email, but it is very real. I commented for several years on my son’s absolutely atrocious handwriting and punctuation skills – I was told that those were things that simply were not taught any more. Things like how to hold a pen/cil, how to write a letter, address it and affix a stamp, proper grammar and punctuation. And this was in three different states: Texas, Washington, Tennessee. This is not a regional, or state exception, although I realize that my examples are anecdotal, I believe they are indicative of a gradual worsening of basic skills. I see it as well whenever I teach at college level – many students don’t know what a paragraph is, how to write a complete sentence, how to write a basic research paper with proper attribution of sources, use of quotation marks, or even avoid the use of TEXTING shortcuts when writing.

    I’ll also add that guys like WebMonk are even becoming rare in the tech fields – again anecdotal evidence, but several of my engineering coworkers have been complaining that recent grads don’t even understand the basic electronics, programming or mathematics of engineering that underlays much of our modern technological society. They now look for people with MEng’s in order to find someone who has qualifications that a BSEng would have had in just the not-so-distant past.

  • SKPeterson

    I can attest to the fact that most 8th graders or even 9th and 10th graders cannot properly address an envelope and many cannot write (actually using a pen or pencil) legibly. I suspect this is due to the advent of personal electronics and email, but it is very real. I commented for several years on my son’s absolutely atrocious handwriting and punctuation skills – I was told that those were things that simply were not taught any more. Things like how to hold a pen/cil, how to write a letter, address it and affix a stamp, proper grammar and punctuation. And this was in three different states: Texas, Washington, Tennessee. This is not a regional, or state exception, although I realize that my examples are anecdotal, I believe they are indicative of a gradual worsening of basic skills. I see it as well whenever I teach at college level – many students don’t know what a paragraph is, how to write a complete sentence, how to write a basic research paper with proper attribution of sources, use of quotation marks, or even avoid the use of TEXTING shortcuts when writing.

    I’ll also add that guys like WebMonk are even becoming rare in the tech fields – again anecdotal evidence, but several of my engineering coworkers have been complaining that recent grads don’t even understand the basic electronics, programming or mathematics of engineering that underlays much of our modern technological society. They now look for people with MEng’s in order to find someone who has qualifications that a BSEng would have had in just the not-so-distant past.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I looked up NAEP scores yesterday regarding the claim that 2/3 of Wisconsin 8th graders don’t score above proficient. Now this claim, while true, is very misleading. NAEP has four score ranges: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. 76% of Wisconsin 8th graders scored Basic or above. The highest scores in the nation were in Massachusetts at 84% above Basic and 43% proficient compared to 33% proficient in Wisconsin.

    The point is that Wisconsin scores are not low. They are very close to the national average. Wisconsin teachers are not doing a bad job. They are average.

    As for spending more, you have to consider how much more. Is it 3%, 10%, 90%? And are they reporting all of the costs? Cato Institute says they aren’t reporting all of the costs.
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=11432

    Lots of info on student scores (but no hype) at the NAEP pages:

    http://nces.ed.gov/programs/stateprofiles/

    http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/statecomparisons/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I looked up NAEP scores yesterday regarding the claim that 2/3 of Wisconsin 8th graders don’t score above proficient. Now this claim, while true, is very misleading. NAEP has four score ranges: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. 76% of Wisconsin 8th graders scored Basic or above. The highest scores in the nation were in Massachusetts at 84% above Basic and 43% proficient compared to 33% proficient in Wisconsin.

    The point is that Wisconsin scores are not low. They are very close to the national average. Wisconsin teachers are not doing a bad job. They are average.

    As for spending more, you have to consider how much more. Is it 3%, 10%, 90%? And are they reporting all of the costs? Cato Institute says they aren’t reporting all of the costs.
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=11432

    Lots of info on student scores (but no hype) at the NAEP pages:

    http://nces.ed.gov/programs/stateprofiles/

    http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/statecomparisons/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Reposting. First try had to many links.

    I looked up NAEP scores yesterday regarding the claim that 2/3 of Wisconsin 8th graders don’t score above proficient. Now this claim, while true, is very misleading. NAEP has four score ranges: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. 76% of Wisconsin 8th graders scored Basic or above. The highest scores in the nation were in Massachusetts at 84% above Basic and 43% proficient compared to 33% proficient in Wisconsin.

    The point is that Wisconsin scores are not low. They are very close to the national average. Wisconsin teachers are not doing a bad job. They are average.

    Lots of info on student scores (but no hype) at the NAEP pages:

    http://nces.ed.gov/programs/stateprofiles/

    http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/statecomparisons/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Reposting. First try had to many links.

    I looked up NAEP scores yesterday regarding the claim that 2/3 of Wisconsin 8th graders don’t score above proficient. Now this claim, while true, is very misleading. NAEP has four score ranges: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. 76% of Wisconsin 8th graders scored Basic or above. The highest scores in the nation were in Massachusetts at 84% above Basic and 43% proficient compared to 33% proficient in Wisconsin.

    The point is that Wisconsin scores are not low. They are very close to the national average. Wisconsin teachers are not doing a bad job. They are average.

    Lots of info on student scores (but no hype) at the NAEP pages:

    http://nces.ed.gov/programs/stateprofiles/

    http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/statecomparisons/

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Reposting.

    As for spending more, you have to consider how much more. Is it 3%, 10%, 90%? And are they reporting all of the costs? Cato Institute says they aren’t reporting all of the costs.
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=11432

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Reposting.

    As for spending more, you have to consider how much more. Is it 3%, 10%, 90%? And are they reporting all of the costs? Cato Institute says they aren’t reporting all of the costs.
    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=11432

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    One more thing about NAEP. The score ranges are criterion referenced but the article slams Wisconsin for its performance based on its percentile score.

    Evidently, the Basic level corresponds to about the 25%ile and Proficient corresponds to about the 66%ile.

    People need to be reasonable in their expectations. By definition, not all kids can be above average.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    One more thing about NAEP. The score ranges are criterion referenced but the article slams Wisconsin for its performance based on its percentile score.

    Evidently, the Basic level corresponds to about the 25%ile and Proficient corresponds to about the 66%ile.

    People need to be reasonable in their expectations. By definition, not all kids can be above average.

  • WebMonk

    Dr. Veith, I TOLD you this was NOT an 8th grade test – it’s an exam for “applicants” which was to be given orally. That means it was for someone like a teacher applicant. NOT for 8th grade.

    What this does show is what eighth graders studied and were expected to learn in 1895.

    That is completely FALSE and I pointed that out to you that yesterday. Your entire post here is completely incorrect.

    I realize I sent you the link before I did any research on it, but very shortly afterward I did point out to you that it was NOT an 8th grade test like the original link had said. Please don’t associate my username with the false information you just put up there.

  • WebMonk

    Dr. Veith, I TOLD you this was NOT an 8th grade test – it’s an exam for “applicants” which was to be given orally. That means it was for someone like a teacher applicant. NOT for 8th grade.

    What this does show is what eighth graders studied and were expected to learn in 1895.

    That is completely FALSE and I pointed that out to you that yesterday. Your entire post here is completely incorrect.

    I realize I sent you the link before I did any research on it, but very shortly afterward I did point out to you that it was NOT an 8th grade test like the original link had said. Please don’t associate my username with the false information you just put up there.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Hey thanks for the clarification, Webmonk.

    Wouldn’t you just love to see a tape of today’s ed. school grads giving their responses to those questions?

    Some blazing through and others, uh, deer in the headlights.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Hey thanks for the clarification, Webmonk.

    Wouldn’t you just love to see a tape of today’s ed. school grads giving their responses to those questions?

    Some blazing through and others, uh, deer in the headlights.

  • Dan Kempin

    SKPeterson, #1,

    I still can’t write legibly with a pen, and I would argue that archaic penmanship has very little to do with education. (I say archaic, because handwriting composes a very small proportion of my communication.)

    And addressing an envelope for snail mail–isn’t that taught in the history department?

    Tongue in cheek, of course. I agree with your assessment about the erosion of basics. I filled in teaching a fresman level college class a few years back and was appalled by the inability of the majority of the students to write. It was really quite shocking to me that these students were in college.

    Still disagree about the handwriting, though. My doctor also supports me and sent a not to that effect, though I can’t quite make it out.

  • Dan Kempin

    SKPeterson, #1,

    I still can’t write legibly with a pen, and I would argue that archaic penmanship has very little to do with education. (I say archaic, because handwriting composes a very small proportion of my communication.)

    And addressing an envelope for snail mail–isn’t that taught in the history department?

    Tongue in cheek, of course. I agree with your assessment about the erosion of basics. I filled in teaching a fresman level college class a few years back and was appalled by the inability of the majority of the students to write. It was really quite shocking to me that these students were in college.

    Still disagree about the handwriting, though. My doctor also supports me and sent a not to that effect, though I can’t quite make it out.

  • trotk

    WebMonk, I think you are mistaken about this being for teaching applicants. The applicants referred to are applicants for graduation.

    http://www.salina.com/rdnews/story/1895test

  • trotk

    WebMonk, I think you are mistaken about this being for teaching applicants. The applicants referred to are applicants for graduation.

    http://www.salina.com/rdnews/story/1895test

  • WebMonk

    Oh my goodness. I just noticed the link that Dr. Veith put up for his “eighth grade math test for today”.

    That is a completely nonsensical test! That’s not a real test! I told him that! It’s a “quiz” on a survey site that has lots of surveys/quizzes about “What’s your love style” and “How Sagittarius are you”! He emailed me that site last night and I told him it was a junk site, but he put it up anyway! I even sent him links to REAL tests given in schools today, but no he put up the stupid pop quiz made by a random person on a site that makes quizzes about your “love style”!

    I want to state again that I completely disagree with this steaming pile of …… junk – it is completely incorrect in almost every way and is entirely opposite everything I sent to Dr. Veith.

  • WebMonk

    Oh my goodness. I just noticed the link that Dr. Veith put up for his “eighth grade math test for today”.

    That is a completely nonsensical test! That’s not a real test! I told him that! It’s a “quiz” on a survey site that has lots of surveys/quizzes about “What’s your love style” and “How Sagittarius are you”! He emailed me that site last night and I told him it was a junk site, but he put it up anyway! I even sent him links to REAL tests given in schools today, but no he put up the stupid pop quiz made by a random person on a site that makes quizzes about your “love style”!

    I want to state again that I completely disagree with this steaming pile of …… junk – it is completely incorrect in almost every way and is entirely opposite everything I sent to Dr. Veith.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    The “original document” seems to be an nth generation photocopy.

    In the arithmetic section, at least, it seems that back then they were more interested in students learning how to make practical application of arithmetic. The modern math test shows no interest in practical application if the math, but tests only the mechanics of the math for its own sake.

    I’m not sure we can draw too much of a conclusion about how the world has changed just from these two examples, but yeah, times have changed.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    The “original document” seems to be an nth generation photocopy.

    In the arithmetic section, at least, it seems that back then they were more interested in students learning how to make practical application of arithmetic. The modern math test shows no interest in practical application if the math, but tests only the mechanics of the math for its own sake.

    I’m not sure we can draw too much of a conclusion about how the world has changed just from these two examples, but yeah, times have changed.

  • WebMonk

    trotk – go check out the original. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kssvgs/school/exam1895/8th_exam_orig.pdf
    It clearly states:

    Graduation Examination Questions
    of Saline County, Kansas

    Examinations at Salina, New Cambria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74 (in Glendale Twp.)

    Reading and Penmanship. – The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts.

    Note that nowhere does it say 8th grade. Notice the parts I italicized and bolded. This wasn’t a test that was given at each school, and those taking the test are called “applicants”. What it is is a graduation for teachers wanting to get their teaching positions.

    It’s widely spread across the internet that this is an 8th grade graduation test, and it all stems from the original and faulty description of this by the volunteer librarian who posted this and newspaper that first ran the article. If you go looking you can track down places that point this out.

  • WebMonk

    trotk – go check out the original. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kssvgs/school/exam1895/8th_exam_orig.pdf
    It clearly states:

    Graduation Examination Questions
    of Saline County, Kansas

    Examinations at Salina, New Cambria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74 (in Glendale Twp.)

    Reading and Penmanship. – The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts.

    Note that nowhere does it say 8th grade. Notice the parts I italicized and bolded. This wasn’t a test that was given at each school, and those taking the test are called “applicants”. What it is is a graduation for teachers wanting to get their teaching positions.

    It’s widely spread across the internet that this is an 8th grade graduation test, and it all stems from the original and faulty description of this by the volunteer librarian who posted this and newspaper that first ran the article. If you go looking you can track down places that point this out.

  • WebMonk

    Mike – that “modern test” you are looking at is total junk. See comment 9.

    Here is a mythbusters site like snopes that points out what this “8th grade test” actually is: http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/a/1895exam.htm

  • WebMonk

    Mike – that “modern test” you are looking at is total junk. See comment 9.

    Here is a mythbusters site like snopes that points out what this “8th grade test” actually is: http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/a/1895exam.htm

  • WebMonk

    Here is a site that has actual, real tests that were given in 2010 to NY 8th grade students.

    http://www.nysedregents.org/intermediate.html

    Like I said, the 1895 test isn’t for 8th grade students, so comparing and contrasting the 1895 test with REAL modern tests isn’t comparing apples to apples. However, you can see from the tests I just linked, the 8th grade tests aren’t phenomenally inferior to the 1895 test. They’re very different, and especially in the grammar/literature side of things they just barely have any overlap at all, but the general difficulty isn’t fundamentally different.

    Also note that the 1895 test is extremely broad, only giving up to 10 questions on an area. (yet another indicator that it isn’t a school test) The tests NYSED tests I linked to are much more in-depth, and so it’s a bit tricky doing direct comparisons.

    Given that, if anything, the math questions from the modern test seem to be considerably more difficult than the math on the 1895 test. The 1895 test has only multiplication and division, that’s it.

  • WebMonk

    Here is a site that has actual, real tests that were given in 2010 to NY 8th grade students.

    http://www.nysedregents.org/intermediate.html

    Like I said, the 1895 test isn’t for 8th grade students, so comparing and contrasting the 1895 test with REAL modern tests isn’t comparing apples to apples. However, you can see from the tests I just linked, the 8th grade tests aren’t phenomenally inferior to the 1895 test. They’re very different, and especially in the grammar/literature side of things they just barely have any overlap at all, but the general difficulty isn’t fundamentally different.

    Also note that the 1895 test is extremely broad, only giving up to 10 questions on an area. (yet another indicator that it isn’t a school test) The tests NYSED tests I linked to are much more in-depth, and so it’s a bit tricky doing direct comparisons.

    Given that, if anything, the math questions from the modern test seem to be considerably more difficult than the math on the 1895 test. The 1895 test has only multiplication and division, that’s it.

  • G.L. Campbell

    WebMonk unfortunately misread the original. When it notes that the examination will be oral, this means it will be read aloud to the students. They are still required to write down the answers, as noted in the immediately following phrase regarding penmanship gradings in the manuscripts. And this level of expected learning really shouldn’t be a surprise us. Through the 1800′s, college entrance requirements typically required applicants to have studied Greek and Latin. To grow the student bodies, lower standards, and more degree options, were devised.

  • G.L. Campbell

    WebMonk unfortunately misread the original. When it notes that the examination will be oral, this means it will be read aloud to the students. They are still required to write down the answers, as noted in the immediately following phrase regarding penmanship gradings in the manuscripts. And this level of expected learning really shouldn’t be a surprise us. Through the 1800′s, college entrance requirements typically required applicants to have studied Greek and Latin. To grow the student bodies, lower standards, and more degree options, were devised.

  • WebMonk

    G.L., what are you talking about? Did I ever say anywhere that the answers weren’t written down? No, I said it was given orally, which is exactly what the instructions say. Oops, might you have misread something in my comment?

    And might I suggest that you are also misreading the test itself because you said “this means it will be read aloud to the students”, but the paper itself said “The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts.”

    I’m pretty sure that not even dyslexia would mistake “student” for “applicant”. It’s not a test for 8th grade students. It’s a test for graduates who are applying for something, apparently for teaching positions.

  • WebMonk

    G.L., what are you talking about? Did I ever say anywhere that the answers weren’t written down? No, I said it was given orally, which is exactly what the instructions say. Oops, might you have misread something in my comment?

    And might I suggest that you are also misreading the test itself because you said “this means it will be read aloud to the students”, but the paper itself said “The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship of Applicants will be graded from the manuscripts.”

    I’m pretty sure that not even dyslexia would mistake “student” for “applicant”. It’s not a test for 8th grade students. It’s a test for graduates who are applying for something, apparently for teaching positions.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    We also need to consider the purpose of the test. A test for graduation or an entrance exam is a minimum threshold type test. The person must meet some minimum standard on a test of representative knowledge or skill.

    Tests like National Assessment of Educational Progress (and perhaps some of the New York Regents exams) are really for administrators to understand where students are academically. So, they have easy, medium and hard questions to assess a range of achievement.

    These are different purposes.

    It is possible for tests to serve both purposes, but we can’t just assume that they do.

    It is not clear to me the exact purpose of the 1895 test, but it looks like a minimum standards test, which makes sense whether the applicants want a teaching job or need to graduate.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    We also need to consider the purpose of the test. A test for graduation or an entrance exam is a minimum threshold type test. The person must meet some minimum standard on a test of representative knowledge or skill.

    Tests like National Assessment of Educational Progress (and perhaps some of the New York Regents exams) are really for administrators to understand where students are academically. So, they have easy, medium and hard questions to assess a range of achievement.

    These are different purposes.

    It is possible for tests to serve both purposes, but we can’t just assume that they do.

    It is not clear to me the exact purpose of the 1895 test, but it looks like a minimum standards test, which makes sense whether the applicants want a teaching job or need to graduate.

  • Michael Z.

    I don’t see what the big deal is.
    When I was in 8th grade I could have passed that arithmetic section as long as the units were modern (rods? huh?).
    But then again, I was home educated. :-)

  • Michael Z.

    I don’t see what the big deal is.
    When I was in 8th grade I could have passed that arithmetic section as long as the units were modern (rods? huh?).
    But then again, I was home educated. :-)

  • Orianna Laun

    Despite the “reality” of the tests, it does do good to consider the material learned in the respective times. Look at the expectation of Laura Ingalls’ class in “Little Town on the Prairie:” Memorize poetry, recite history, diagram sentences, do long division without the ability to write it down. My grandmother used to get upset when my siblings and I would count on our fingers (25 years ago). She would insist we do it our head. Guess what my grandmother did–she taught–in a time when students were still expected to learn such things.
    I have taught at both middle and high school levels. I can tell you that despite Kindergarten being the new 1st grade, it doesn’t mean they know more in 8th. The expectations are not as high. My grammar students used to complain about being expected to memorize the helping verbs–until I mentioned that we had to memorize them in 3rd grade.
    Quibbling over the authenticity of the tests is a moot point. Let’s discuss the real problem: the expectation of today’s students.
    By the way, knowing the principal parts of lie/lay are still hard after all these years, but you want to have proper grammar when you give your dog the command to lie? lay? down. :)

  • Orianna Laun

    Despite the “reality” of the tests, it does do good to consider the material learned in the respective times. Look at the expectation of Laura Ingalls’ class in “Little Town on the Prairie:” Memorize poetry, recite history, diagram sentences, do long division without the ability to write it down. My grandmother used to get upset when my siblings and I would count on our fingers (25 years ago). She would insist we do it our head. Guess what my grandmother did–she taught–in a time when students were still expected to learn such things.
    I have taught at both middle and high school levels. I can tell you that despite Kindergarten being the new 1st grade, it doesn’t mean they know more in 8th. The expectations are not as high. My grammar students used to complain about being expected to memorize the helping verbs–until I mentioned that we had to memorize them in 3rd grade.
    Quibbling over the authenticity of the tests is a moot point. Let’s discuss the real problem: the expectation of today’s students.
    By the way, knowing the principal parts of lie/lay are still hard after all these years, but you want to have proper grammar when you give your dog the command to lie? lay? down. :)

  • Joe

    rods? that would be 16.5 feet. My lumberjack/farmer of a grandpa measured most things in rods or quarter sections.

  • Joe

    rods? that would be 16.5 feet. My lumberjack/farmer of a grandpa measured most things in rods or quarter sections.

  • ignorant fisherman’s wife

    I’ll bet the majority of today’s eighth graders can text, use twitter, and update thir facebook pages daily….. and they don’t even need a class for this “skill”!

  • ignorant fisherman’s wife

    I’ll bet the majority of today’s eighth graders can text, use twitter, and update thir facebook pages daily….. and they don’t even need a class for this “skill”!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “My grammar students used to complain about being expected to memorize the helping verbs–until I mentioned that we had to memorize them in 3rd grade.”

    My son had to memorize them in the 4th grade Christian school curriculum.

    “Let’s discuss the real problem: the expectation of today’s students.”

    You can expect anything you want. It doesn’t give kids the ability to do it. Lots of kids are meeting high expectations, but others aren’t. NAEP data show that student scores have improved over time. Duke TIP reports a record number of 7th graders earned perfect scores on at least one section of the ACT or SAT. That sounds like high expectations to me. Public schools are required by the Office of Civil Rights to identify and serve the needs of talented students. The schools are complying and there are measurable results.

    http://www.tip.duke.edu/about/news/2010/bevan_pr.html

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “My grammar students used to complain about being expected to memorize the helping verbs–until I mentioned that we had to memorize them in 3rd grade.”

    My son had to memorize them in the 4th grade Christian school curriculum.

    “Let’s discuss the real problem: the expectation of today’s students.”

    You can expect anything you want. It doesn’t give kids the ability to do it. Lots of kids are meeting high expectations, but others aren’t. NAEP data show that student scores have improved over time. Duke TIP reports a record number of 7th graders earned perfect scores on at least one section of the ACT or SAT. That sounds like high expectations to me. Public schools are required by the Office of Civil Rights to identify and serve the needs of talented students. The schools are complying and there are measurable results.

    http://www.tip.duke.edu/about/news/2010/bevan_pr.html

  • trotk

    WebMonk, I get that it says applicants. I found the original as well. But applicants for what? Graduation? A teaching position? Either is a perfectly reasonable conclusion. I know that it doesn’t say “8th grade,” but it also doesn’t say “teaching position.” Interestingly, it does say “Examination Graduation,” which would lead someone to believe that this was given to students applying for graduation.

    But the lack of reference on the test to those for whom it is intended is why I linked at #8 to the story about the grandchildren of the superintendent. Read it – they found his handwritten notes about the test, and it seems that they understand those notes to indicate that this is a graduation (from 8th grade, which would have been when graduation occurred in 1895) examination .

    Either way, your reaction to Veith is a bit of an over-reaction. Calm down. Even if the blog post is totally wrong, your reputation hasn’t been sullied.

  • trotk

    WebMonk, I get that it says applicants. I found the original as well. But applicants for what? Graduation? A teaching position? Either is a perfectly reasonable conclusion. I know that it doesn’t say “8th grade,” but it also doesn’t say “teaching position.” Interestingly, it does say “Examination Graduation,” which would lead someone to believe that this was given to students applying for graduation.

    But the lack of reference on the test to those for whom it is intended is why I linked at #8 to the story about the grandchildren of the superintendent. Read it – they found his handwritten notes about the test, and it seems that they understand those notes to indicate that this is a graduation (from 8th grade, which would have been when graduation occurred in 1895) examination .

    Either way, your reaction to Veith is a bit of an over-reaction. Calm down. Even if the blog post is totally wrong, your reputation hasn’t been sullied.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I agree that the exam document, of itself, is ambiguous as to its purpose. That said, WebMonk, Trotk’s link (@8) does lend credence to the idea that this was a test for 8th graders.

    However, I think the larger point is being missed. This test is being bandied about, mostly by “conservatives”, to show how much our education system has deteriorated since 1895 — why, look how much children knew back then! By comparison, today’s students are ignorant idiots!

    But nobody seems to have paid any attention to how well the students did on this test. After all, the existence of a test doesn’t prove that anyone actually knew the material covered therein.

    And hey, what do you know, if you follow Trotk’s link above (@8), you find this sentence:

    Judy Lilly, Kansas librarian at the Salina Public Library, has found school records that show only seven eighth-graders graduated in 1895, the year of the difficult test, whereas there were about 28 graduates the year before and the year after.

    So if we can assume that the number of students did not vary that dramatically from year to year, then this test, that supposedly shows how much better things were back then, appears to have been incredibly hard for students in 1895, as well, such that it led to a dramatically lowered graduation rate. Of course, to truly conclude that, we’d need to know how many students were enrolled in all those years.

    That said, Dr. Veith’s link to “this eighth grade math test from today” is pretty clearly not an actual 8th grade math test from today.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I agree that the exam document, of itself, is ambiguous as to its purpose. That said, WebMonk, Trotk’s link (@8) does lend credence to the idea that this was a test for 8th graders.

    However, I think the larger point is being missed. This test is being bandied about, mostly by “conservatives”, to show how much our education system has deteriorated since 1895 — why, look how much children knew back then! By comparison, today’s students are ignorant idiots!

    But nobody seems to have paid any attention to how well the students did on this test. After all, the existence of a test doesn’t prove that anyone actually knew the material covered therein.

    And hey, what do you know, if you follow Trotk’s link above (@8), you find this sentence:

    Judy Lilly, Kansas librarian at the Salina Public Library, has found school records that show only seven eighth-graders graduated in 1895, the year of the difficult test, whereas there were about 28 graduates the year before and the year after.

    So if we can assume that the number of students did not vary that dramatically from year to year, then this test, that supposedly shows how much better things were back then, appears to have been incredibly hard for students in 1895, as well, such that it led to a dramatically lowered graduation rate. Of course, to truly conclude that, we’d need to know how many students were enrolled in all those years.

    That said, Dr. Veith’s link to “this eighth grade math test from today” is pretty clearly not an actual 8th grade math test from today.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    There is one odd thing, though.

    The Smoky Valley Genealogical Society site has links to both their transcription of the 1895 exam, as well as a PDF of the original (though it looks like a copy of a copy of the original).

    However, the PDF and the transcription differ in two ways. First (and this is probably an error), the transcription says “Biology” where the PDF says “Physiology”. More importantly, the transcription contains an entire section titled “Rules for Teachers” that is not to be found on the PDF, nor does the transcription explain where this section came from. Was it on the back of the document in the PDF? If so, why would such rules be attached to the back of an exam to be given orally to 8th graders?

    Anyhow, for your amusement, if nothing else, here is that section (I have added emphasis to my favorite parts):

    RULES FOR TEACHERS
    1872
    1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.
    2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the dayâs session.
    3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.
    4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
    5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
    6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
    7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
    8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
    9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    There is one odd thing, though.

    The Smoky Valley Genealogical Society site has links to both their transcription of the 1895 exam, as well as a PDF of the original (though it looks like a copy of a copy of the original).

    However, the PDF and the transcription differ in two ways. First (and this is probably an error), the transcription says “Biology” where the PDF says “Physiology”. More importantly, the transcription contains an entire section titled “Rules for Teachers” that is not to be found on the PDF, nor does the transcription explain where this section came from. Was it on the back of the document in the PDF? If so, why would such rules be attached to the back of an exam to be given orally to 8th graders?

    Anyhow, for your amusement, if nothing else, here is that section (I have added emphasis to my favorite parts):

    RULES FOR TEACHERS
    1872
    1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.
    2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the dayâs session.
    3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.
    4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
    5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
    6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
    7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
    8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
    9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves

  • WebMonk

    trotk, I did read the article, but I’m still very skeptical of its intent to be given to 8th grade students to graduate from school. The only additional fact from that article is that the superintendent drew up the test himself – the way everything on the page is phrased and designed, along with the content of one of the questions requiring information only a teacher/administrator would know, still points toward the test being given to applicants for something.

    As it was the superintendent who drew up the test (and not one of the teachers), and blah, blah, blah that I’ve already mentioned I think it leans toward a teacher position test. Especially with the additional Teacher’s Rules which tODD noticed.

    However, it’s certainly not 100% definite proof (75-80% would be my own odds on it), so it might be an 8th grade graduation test.

    However, like tODD pointed out, if it was an 8th grade graduation test, it looks like it was significantly too hard for 1895 students considering the huge drop in graduates that year.

    Either way, it’s not something that should be used as a comparison between modern and 1895 students. (and especially not to be compared with the ” eighth grade math test from today” mentioned in the post)

  • WebMonk

    trotk, I did read the article, but I’m still very skeptical of its intent to be given to 8th grade students to graduate from school. The only additional fact from that article is that the superintendent drew up the test himself – the way everything on the page is phrased and designed, along with the content of one of the questions requiring information only a teacher/administrator would know, still points toward the test being given to applicants for something.

    As it was the superintendent who drew up the test (and not one of the teachers), and blah, blah, blah that I’ve already mentioned I think it leans toward a teacher position test. Especially with the additional Teacher’s Rules which tODD noticed.

    However, it’s certainly not 100% definite proof (75-80% would be my own odds on it), so it might be an 8th grade graduation test.

    However, like tODD pointed out, if it was an 8th grade graduation test, it looks like it was significantly too hard for 1895 students considering the huge drop in graduates that year.

    Either way, it’s not something that should be used as a comparison between modern and 1895 students. (and especially not to be compared with the ” eighth grade math test from today” mentioned in the post)

  • Tom Hering

    Re: Rules for teachers @ 24. No wonder they formed unions to bargain collectively! :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Re: Rules for teachers @ 24. No wonder they formed unions to bargain collectively! :-D

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    time for some alternative explanations

    - They used the test for both 8th grade graduation and as a pre-employment screening test.

    - They accidentally used it as the 8th grade test because the teacher died and someone had to come out there and give the students a graduation test and they just picked up the wrong one.

    - The smart aleks class of ’95 had got on the superintendent’s last nerve and by gum, he was going to get’em with the teacher test instead of the usual graduation exam.

    other ideas?

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    time for some alternative explanations

    - They used the test for both 8th grade graduation and as a pre-employment screening test.

    - They accidentally used it as the 8th grade test because the teacher died and someone had to come out there and give the students a graduation test and they just picked up the wrong one.

    - The smart aleks class of ’95 had got on the superintendent’s last nerve and by gum, he was going to get’em with the teacher test instead of the usual graduation exam.

    other ideas?

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  • WebMonk

    Candace – there is no consideration of this being a hoax; definitely not a hoax. The test is real and from 1895.

  • WebMonk

    Candace – there is no consideration of this being a hoax; definitely not a hoax. The test is real and from 1895.

  • trotk

    sg – One more possibility:

    The only requirement for teaching was an 8th grade degree, and thus the test to pass 8th grade and the test to become a teacher were one and the same.

    How’s that?

  • trotk

    sg – One more possibility:

    The only requirement for teaching was an 8th grade degree, and thus the test to pass 8th grade and the test to become a teacher were one and the same.

    How’s that?

  • Porcell

    That general American standards of eighth-grade education in 1895 were considerably higher than at present is well established. Back then content and rigorous grading were central to education, not fluffy ideas of “student-centered” learning. What happened was that romantic leftists, especially John Dewey, took over American education, as they fundamentally objected to the inequality of classic educational content and standards.

    I read a breathless article just yesterday in our local rag emoting that”progressive” schools have done away with such inequalitarian horrors as rank in class along with the designation of “Valedictorian” and “Salutatorian” in order to protect the sensibilities of our precious young people.

    Until content and rigorous grading become central, American education at all levels shall continue to be a wasteland.

  • Porcell

    That general American standards of eighth-grade education in 1895 were considerably higher than at present is well established. Back then content and rigorous grading were central to education, not fluffy ideas of “student-centered” learning. What happened was that romantic leftists, especially John Dewey, took over American education, as they fundamentally objected to the inequality of classic educational content and standards.

    I read a breathless article just yesterday in our local rag emoting that”progressive” schools have done away with such inequalitarian horrors as rank in class along with the designation of “Valedictorian” and “Salutatorian” in order to protect the sensibilities of our precious young people.

    Until content and rigorous grading become central, American education at all levels shall continue to be a wasteland.

  • trotk

    Peter, why the attraction to grading? It isn’t Christian. It also didn’t exist in some of the best educational systems the world has seen. In better systems, the student simply wasn’t passed on until he mastered the material. Their was no need to rank students and inflate pride. Instead, the teacher criticized the content of the student’s idea (without slapping some totally arbitrary number on it), and didn’t vouch for them at the next level until the student was a master.

    Don’t get me wrong. I depsise what Dewey and other progressive educators have done to American education (remember I work in a classical school), but grading isn’t the answer. When a student sees the arbitrary number at the top of the page (much like putting a number on someone’s kindness or wisdom) they stop looking for the real stuff that makes them grow, which are the teacher’s comments and feedback.

    I would go for a super-rigorous pass-fail if I could.

  • trotk

    Peter, why the attraction to grading? It isn’t Christian. It also didn’t exist in some of the best educational systems the world has seen. In better systems, the student simply wasn’t passed on until he mastered the material. Their was no need to rank students and inflate pride. Instead, the teacher criticized the content of the student’s idea (without slapping some totally arbitrary number on it), and didn’t vouch for them at the next level until the student was a master.

    Don’t get me wrong. I depsise what Dewey and other progressive educators have done to American education (remember I work in a classical school), but grading isn’t the answer. When a student sees the arbitrary number at the top of the page (much like putting a number on someone’s kindness or wisdom) they stop looking for the real stuff that makes them grow, which are the teacher’s comments and feedback.

    I would go for a super-rigorous pass-fail if I could.

  • Porcell

    Any serious system of education maintains a rigorous arrangement of grading, however tender American standards have become. The notion that rigorous grading is not Christian is absurd. In most real aspects of life people are graded and promoted according to degrees of excellence. The most exemplary examples of this would be professional sports and presidential performance. Pass/fail is the ne plus ultra of soft standards.

    Harvard professor, Harvard Mansfield, gives two sets of grades, one that reflects current soft standards for the record and another that reflects Harvard’s formerly rigorous standard. Students who have the cojones to take one of his demanding courses appreciate the truth of his honest grade. The only reason he gives the phony high grade is to shelter his students from graduate-school admissions.

  • Porcell

    Any serious system of education maintains a rigorous arrangement of grading, however tender American standards have become. The notion that rigorous grading is not Christian is absurd. In most real aspects of life people are graded and promoted according to degrees of excellence. The most exemplary examples of this would be professional sports and presidential performance. Pass/fail is the ne plus ultra of soft standards.

    Harvard professor, Harvard Mansfield, gives two sets of grades, one that reflects current soft standards for the record and another that reflects Harvard’s formerly rigorous standard. Students who have the cojones to take one of his demanding courses appreciate the truth of his honest grade. The only reason he gives the phony high grade is to shelter his students from graduate-school admissions.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Until content and rigorous grading become central, American education at all levels shall continue to be a wasteland.”

    This is just not true.

    We have rigorous content and grading. They are central to the numerous and growing AP classes and other programs that serve every kid they can get to pay attention and participate enough for it to sink in. Every year more students take the AP tests and more students score higher.

    The constant complaint is that the average performance has moved very little. This is ridiculous in a country that continually imports uneducated people, including many students who can’t possibly catch up in short order.

    The US is doing better than any country on the planet and the only ones who even come close are small or homogenous or both.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Until content and rigorous grading become central, American education at all levels shall continue to be a wasteland.”

    This is just not true.

    We have rigorous content and grading. They are central to the numerous and growing AP classes and other programs that serve every kid they can get to pay attention and participate enough for it to sink in. Every year more students take the AP tests and more students score higher.

    The constant complaint is that the average performance has moved very little. This is ridiculous in a country that continually imports uneducated people, including many students who can’t possibly catch up in short order.

    The US is doing better than any country on the planet and the only ones who even come close are small or homogenous or both.

  • Porcell

    sg, check out the following article, International Test Scores Poor U.S. Test Results Tied To Weak Curriculum that concludes as follows:

    In short, the tests showed U.S. fourth-graders performing poorly, middle school students worse. and high school students are unable to compete. By the same criteria used to say we were “average” in elementary school, “we appear to be “near the bottom” at the high school level. People have a tendency to think this picture is bleak but it doesn’t apply to their own school. Chances are, even if your school compares well in SAT scores, it will still be a lightweight on an international scale.

  • Porcell

    sg, check out the following article, International Test Scores Poor U.S. Test Results Tied To Weak Curriculum that concludes as follows:

    In short, the tests showed U.S. fourth-graders performing poorly, middle school students worse. and high school students are unable to compete. By the same criteria used to say we were “average” in elementary school, “we appear to be “near the bottom” at the high school level. People have a tendency to think this picture is bleak but it doesn’t apply to their own school. Chances are, even if your school compares well in SAT scores, it will still be a lightweight on an international scale.

  • trotk

    Peter, you aren’t giving a rational argument. You are responding emotionally based on what you experienced.

    You don’t have to have soft standards in pass-fail or non-graded courses. In fact, you can have harder standards, because the student isn’t passed until he is a master. You see mutual exclusivity where it doesn’t exist. Besides, people aren’t graded with numbers in life. They are promoted when they are competent and fired when they fail. I am opposed to the numbering, not the honest evaluation.

    My arguments against the number are the following:
    1. It is totally arbitrary.
    2. It isn’t the way the world works.
    3. It teaches the student that intelligence can be defined by a number.
    4. It causes a ranking, and therefore a judgment, based on an arbitrary standard (or possibly intelligence), which inflates pride and debases those who struggle without success. This causes both groups to cease doing all “work for the glory of God,” because some are proud, and some see their efforts as pointless.
    5. It keeps students from listening to the important stuff, which is the feedback about how they can grow.
    6. It didn’t exist in most of the best schools that have existed.
    7. Did I say that it was arbitrary?
    8. It creates the impression that education is about a final number.

    And so on. Please present one reason why grading (with a number) is good. My assumption is you can’t, because you believe that grades are the only way a teacher has to demand rigorous study and excellence, which isn’t at all true.

  • trotk

    Peter, you aren’t giving a rational argument. You are responding emotionally based on what you experienced.

    You don’t have to have soft standards in pass-fail or non-graded courses. In fact, you can have harder standards, because the student isn’t passed until he is a master. You see mutual exclusivity where it doesn’t exist. Besides, people aren’t graded with numbers in life. They are promoted when they are competent and fired when they fail. I am opposed to the numbering, not the honest evaluation.

    My arguments against the number are the following:
    1. It is totally arbitrary.
    2. It isn’t the way the world works.
    3. It teaches the student that intelligence can be defined by a number.
    4. It causes a ranking, and therefore a judgment, based on an arbitrary standard (or possibly intelligence), which inflates pride and debases those who struggle without success. This causes both groups to cease doing all “work for the glory of God,” because some are proud, and some see their efforts as pointless.
    5. It keeps students from listening to the important stuff, which is the feedback about how they can grow.
    6. It didn’t exist in most of the best schools that have existed.
    7. Did I say that it was arbitrary?
    8. It creates the impression that education is about a final number.

    And so on. Please present one reason why grading (with a number) is good. My assumption is you can’t, because you believe that grades are the only way a teacher has to demand rigorous study and excellence, which isn’t at all true.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Trotk, your argument here reminds me of some of the best advice I’ve ever received. When I graduated from High School, and just before I went off to University, I had occasion to visit our family physician (here’s to you, Dr Jacobs, wherever you are!). He told me the following:

    Remember, you are studying to become a geologist. Don’t study for the next test, study and work towards being a geologist.

    Best academic advice ever.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Trotk, your argument here reminds me of some of the best advice I’ve ever received. When I graduated from High School, and just before I went off to University, I had occasion to visit our family physician (here’s to you, Dr Jacobs, wherever you are!). He told me the following:

    Remember, you are studying to become a geologist. Don’t study for the next test, study and work towards being a geologist.

    Best academic advice ever.

  • Porcell

    In any serious aspect of life the score is kept. Excellent schools give grades. In sports points are kept. In most careers the score is kept with salaries, rank, and ultimately capital value, notwithstanding mediocre or worse romantics who delude themselves and those whom they unfortunately influence.

    Aristotle remarked that happiness is the full use of one’s powers along the lines of excellence. True excellence in school and professional life is usually subject to careful measurement, as the Greeks taught well.

  • Porcell

    In any serious aspect of life the score is kept. Excellent schools give grades. In sports points are kept. In most careers the score is kept with salaries, rank, and ultimately capital value, notwithstanding mediocre or worse romantics who delude themselves and those whom they unfortunately influence.

    Aristotle remarked that happiness is the full use of one’s powers along the lines of excellence. True excellence in school and professional life is usually subject to careful measurement, as the Greeks taught well.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    What about naturally competitive students who need a number for motivation? People have different personalities. Some people like rankings. The problem is when everyone has to learn the same stuff even when their ability is in something else.

    Anyway, Porcell, we have been over this before. The countries that beat the US are either European or Asian. News flash, our European and Asian students outscore everyone except Finland and the city of Shanghai. If we were to compare our hispanic students to hispanic countries, they would beat them. If we compared our black students to students in black countries, they would beat them, too. No one in the media wants to talk about that, of course. So, the only articles you can find are ones that compare the US to countries that don’t have the same population we have. Is the city of Shanghai importing poor uneducated folks? Heck no. Even Chinese people have to have permission to move there. It is like comparing Silicon Valley or Cambridge, MA to the whole US.

    Check out this article at Salon.com

    http://www.salon.com/news/economics/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/01/25/lind_myth_china

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    What about naturally competitive students who need a number for motivation? People have different personalities. Some people like rankings. The problem is when everyone has to learn the same stuff even when their ability is in something else.

    Anyway, Porcell, we have been over this before. The countries that beat the US are either European or Asian. News flash, our European and Asian students outscore everyone except Finland and the city of Shanghai. If we were to compare our hispanic students to hispanic countries, they would beat them. If we compared our black students to students in black countries, they would beat them, too. No one in the media wants to talk about that, of course. So, the only articles you can find are ones that compare the US to countries that don’t have the same population we have. Is the city of Shanghai importing poor uneducated folks? Heck no. Even Chinese people have to have permission to move there. It is like comparing Silicon Valley or Cambridge, MA to the whole US.

    Check out this article at Salon.com

    http://www.salon.com/news/economics/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/01/25/lind_myth_china

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “My arguments against the number are the following:
    1. It is totally arbitrary.”

    Do you think that the SAT questions are totally arbitrary? No colleges agree.

    “2. It isn’t the way the world works.”

    Yes, it is. Every year people get performance reviews based on specific criteria. If specific criteria are not used, the employee can sue his employer.

    “3. It teaches the student that intelligence can be defined by a number.”

    Well, it can be measured and quantified.

    “4. It causes a ranking, and therefore a judgment, based on an arbitrary standard”

    Again, the criteria are not arbitrary. Kids really do need to be able to solve math problems and punctuate and spell.

    “(or possibly intelligence),”

    A free gift from God.

    “which inflates pride”

    True sometimes in some individuals, but plenty of smart people are humble, so that is kind of an unfair blanket slam.

    “and debases those who struggle without success.”

    No, it just clues them that they need to find what they are good at rather than waste too much time on what they are not.

    “This causes both groups to cease doing all “work for the glory of God,”

    Nah, that is just a feature of fallen humanity and was with us before most people took school tests. What about atheist kids?

    “because some are proud,”

    But that was always so.

    “and some see their efforts as pointless.”

    Maybe they are pointless and the problem is ours, not theirs.

    “5. It keeps students from listening to the important stuff, which is the feedback about how they can grow.”

    Huh?

    “6. It didn’t exist in most of the best schools that have existed.”

    Well in the old days, if the kids didn’t understand it, they quit going to school. There were no slow kids in school because they were not allowed to continue.

    “7. Did I say that it was arbitrary?”

    Yeah, but it still doesn’t make it so.

    “8. It creates the impression that education is about a final number.”

    It is, usually a salary.

    Okay, I just want to hopefully agree on one point. No matter how many times you weigh a cow, it doesn’t make it gain weight. By that I just mean that tests can definitely be overused and administrators are definitely guilty of over emphasizing their importance and causing students undue stress. When I was in school, the administrators and teachers never said anything about standardized tests or that they were important. The said just answer all the questions and do the best we could. They never discussed them before or after other than to tell us the day before that we would have a bit different schedule on the test days.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “My arguments against the number are the following:
    1. It is totally arbitrary.”

    Do you think that the SAT questions are totally arbitrary? No colleges agree.

    “2. It isn’t the way the world works.”

    Yes, it is. Every year people get performance reviews based on specific criteria. If specific criteria are not used, the employee can sue his employer.

    “3. It teaches the student that intelligence can be defined by a number.”

    Well, it can be measured and quantified.

    “4. It causes a ranking, and therefore a judgment, based on an arbitrary standard”

    Again, the criteria are not arbitrary. Kids really do need to be able to solve math problems and punctuate and spell.

    “(or possibly intelligence),”

    A free gift from God.

    “which inflates pride”

    True sometimes in some individuals, but plenty of smart people are humble, so that is kind of an unfair blanket slam.

    “and debases those who struggle without success.”

    No, it just clues them that they need to find what they are good at rather than waste too much time on what they are not.

    “This causes both groups to cease doing all “work for the glory of God,”

    Nah, that is just a feature of fallen humanity and was with us before most people took school tests. What about atheist kids?

    “because some are proud,”

    But that was always so.

    “and some see their efforts as pointless.”

    Maybe they are pointless and the problem is ours, not theirs.

    “5. It keeps students from listening to the important stuff, which is the feedback about how they can grow.”

    Huh?

    “6. It didn’t exist in most of the best schools that have existed.”

    Well in the old days, if the kids didn’t understand it, they quit going to school. There were no slow kids in school because they were not allowed to continue.

    “7. Did I say that it was arbitrary?”

    Yeah, but it still doesn’t make it so.

    “8. It creates the impression that education is about a final number.”

    It is, usually a salary.

    Okay, I just want to hopefully agree on one point. No matter how many times you weigh a cow, it doesn’t make it gain weight. By that I just mean that tests can definitely be overused and administrators are definitely guilty of over emphasizing their importance and causing students undue stress. When I was in school, the administrators and teachers never said anything about standardized tests or that they were important. The said just answer all the questions and do the best we could. They never discussed them before or after other than to tell us the day before that we would have a bit different schedule on the test days.

  • trotk

    sg, as a teacher, I can tell you that the naturally competitive students don’t need a number for motivation. Their drive is in knowing the answer and being able to prove it in front of others. The number is nothing other than a means to flaunt for those students. Real satisfaction comes from understanding a difficult concept, not from someone saying “That’s a 95!”

    Peter (@39), as a classicist and teacher of Aristotle, I can safely say that Aristotle would kick you in the shins (or something like that) for using his name to try to justify your argument. Why didn’t he have grades at his school if he was so excited about them? Remember your Nichomachean Ethics, Peter. The highest virtue is understanding, not numeric evaluation.

    As to the rest of your examples, we know that you keep score (remember how you view this blog as “scoring debating points”?), but the rest of the world operates on excellence or mastery (or in the spiritual realm, love and mercy, which is why grades aren’t Christian), not an arbitrary number applied by the teacher.

    There is a fundamental difference between a salary and a grade. A grade is a purported quantification of the qualities (catch that? qualities, not quantities!) of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. This is why they fail and demoralize or lead to arrogance. Salaries are simply a statement of how much your company values you, which is hopefully not what teachers are doing. Sports statistics are actual numbers of actual quantifiable events. kai ta loipa.

    Somehow you keep thinking that I am a mediocre romantic. I am trying to explain that grades keep students from working harder, because they either demoralize or prove that the student is already doing well. What motivates students to excellence is teachers taking the time to offer real feedback about where the student is doing well and where he is doing poorly, along with a plan of improvement. This is why individual tutorials don’t need grades. It is why internships don’t need grades.

    Peter, honestly, you are the romantic, because you have got this vision in your mind of Ivy League professor slapping papers down on desks with big red numbers on them and thinking that this is what the education good.

  • trotk

    sg, as a teacher, I can tell you that the naturally competitive students don’t need a number for motivation. Their drive is in knowing the answer and being able to prove it in front of others. The number is nothing other than a means to flaunt for those students. Real satisfaction comes from understanding a difficult concept, not from someone saying “That’s a 95!”

    Peter (@39), as a classicist and teacher of Aristotle, I can safely say that Aristotle would kick you in the shins (or something like that) for using his name to try to justify your argument. Why didn’t he have grades at his school if he was so excited about them? Remember your Nichomachean Ethics, Peter. The highest virtue is understanding, not numeric evaluation.

    As to the rest of your examples, we know that you keep score (remember how you view this blog as “scoring debating points”?), but the rest of the world operates on excellence or mastery (or in the spiritual realm, love and mercy, which is why grades aren’t Christian), not an arbitrary number applied by the teacher.

    There is a fundamental difference between a salary and a grade. A grade is a purported quantification of the qualities (catch that? qualities, not quantities!) of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. This is why they fail and demoralize or lead to arrogance. Salaries are simply a statement of how much your company values you, which is hopefully not what teachers are doing. Sports statistics are actual numbers of actual quantifiable events. kai ta loipa.

    Somehow you keep thinking that I am a mediocre romantic. I am trying to explain that grades keep students from working harder, because they either demoralize or prove that the student is already doing well. What motivates students to excellence is teachers taking the time to offer real feedback about where the student is doing well and where he is doing poorly, along with a plan of improvement. This is why individual tutorials don’t need grades. It is why internships don’t need grades.

    Peter, honestly, you are the romantic, because you have got this vision in your mind of Ivy League professor slapping papers down on desks with big red numbers on them and thinking that this is what the education good.

  • trotk

    Louis, I love your anecdote. That is exactly what I am talking about.

  • trotk

    Louis, I love your anecdote. That is exactly what I am talking about.

  • trotk

    sg, you and I have a mammoth difference in our understanding of what education is in its nature, what it exists for, and how we should do it. We will disagree with most everything we say, but I will give you a few statements just so you understand my perspective:

    Tests are a great thing in the right circumstances.
    Grades are totally arbitrary because someone has to decide how much a question is worth and limit the answer to a number on a scale.
    Standardized tests are a curse upon our educational system.
    Excellence in education is easily recognizable but rarely quantifiable.
    Salaries or performance reviews and grades are not the same thing. Grades rely on a random numeric weighting of various questions,whereas reviews and salaries rely on a verbal description of what someone is worth, which a contract that follows.
    Good schools in the past didn’t use grades because it was unthinkable to quantify a child, not because the bad kids had left.
    Grades make true education more difficult.
    Intelligence is malleable.

  • trotk

    sg, you and I have a mammoth difference in our understanding of what education is in its nature, what it exists for, and how we should do it. We will disagree with most everything we say, but I will give you a few statements just so you understand my perspective:

    Tests are a great thing in the right circumstances.
    Grades are totally arbitrary because someone has to decide how much a question is worth and limit the answer to a number on a scale.
    Standardized tests are a curse upon our educational system.
    Excellence in education is easily recognizable but rarely quantifiable.
    Salaries or performance reviews and grades are not the same thing. Grades rely on a random numeric weighting of various questions,whereas reviews and salaries rely on a verbal description of what someone is worth, which a contract that follows.
    Good schools in the past didn’t use grades because it was unthinkable to quantify a child, not because the bad kids had left.
    Grades make true education more difficult.
    Intelligence is malleable.

  • Trevor

    This is just a response to the original post. Apologies if I’m interrupting any ongoing discussion.

    I’m a Senior in a Bachelor’s Degree Math program. I’ve also taken many Math Education courses. After looking at the 1895 test, and the other “test” here is my analysis:
    The 1895 test is not mathematically difficult. It is mainly focused on the knowledge of some regional conversion factors, and some other concepts like rectangular volume, which are not very tough concepts.
    The second test at least requires some symbolic algebra, which requires a deeper mathematical knowledge.

    So in short I disagree that the 1895 test shows students were better at math. Anybody can plug into memorized formulas. It takes more skill compute symbolically, and is more relevant to higher concepts in math.

  • Trevor

    This is just a response to the original post. Apologies if I’m interrupting any ongoing discussion.

    I’m a Senior in a Bachelor’s Degree Math program. I’ve also taken many Math Education courses. After looking at the 1895 test, and the other “test” here is my analysis:
    The 1895 test is not mathematically difficult. It is mainly focused on the knowledge of some regional conversion factors, and some other concepts like rectangular volume, which are not very tough concepts.
    The second test at least requires some symbolic algebra, which requires a deeper mathematical knowledge.

    So in short I disagree that the 1895 test shows students were better at math. Anybody can plug into memorized formulas. It takes more skill compute symbolically, and is more relevant to higher concepts in math.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    trotk, you can’t make people feel the way you want them to feel. Some like grades. My son is like that. I wasn’t.

    My strategy for studying was know everything, then it didn’t matter what is on the test because I knew it all. But many of my friends were driven to get that number.

    The thing is trotk’s advice works for the interested. I don’t think it is generalizable. I never cared about grades except for final exam grades. My teachers couldn’t motivate me with grades because I only cared about learning not their opinion of me and how well I complied with keeping a notebook. My mother criticized me for taking hard classes because she thought I could get better grades if I would take something easy. I told her that even if I took Chemistry and got an F, I would still learn more than if I never even tried. I was there to learn, not to have someone tell me I had learned. I figured if learned something, I would be well aware of it. So, I know where you are coming from, but most folks do not feel that way and you can’t make them feel that way.

    I tell my son that school is about learning, not about getting a piece of paper that says you know something. If he can’t explain what he learned and why it matters, then he didn’t learn and it really doesn’t matter. Still, he wants that grade. He wants the number. So did my mother, and my husband. It is just a different personality and it is more common than mine.

    Okay, your points.

    “Tests are a great thing in the right circumstances.”

    Yes.

    “Grades are totally arbitrary because someone has to decide how much a question is worth and limit the answer to a number on a scale.”

    This is starting to make sense, but is overstated. I think of all the times I was graded on homework before I had a chance to learn the material and ended up with crappy grades. I was thrilled when I got to high school and we had final exams. There is nothing more vindicating than acing an exam in a class where the grading system is biased towards compliance and against learning. Even when getting an A on the exam wasn’t enough to get an A or even a B in the class, I had the personal satisfaction of the final exam grade and the purile enjoyment of the look on the teacher’s face.

    “Standardized tests are a curse upon our educational system.”

    Only because they are misused and used politically rather than as assessment of students and curriculum.

    “Excellence in education is easily recognizable but rarely quantifiable.”

    Clearly this is not true.

    “Salaries or performance reviews and grades are not the same thing.”

    True, but they are all based on performance, so….

    “Grades rely on a random numeric weighting of various questions,”

    Come on, they are not random. I agree some systems of weighting stink, but they aren’t random.

    “whereas reviews and salaries rely on a verbal description of what someone is worth, which a contract that follows.”

    They are not just verbal. They have specific metrics like exactly how much a salesman sold, or how many hours without a lost time accident or reportable incident, etc.

    “Good schools in the past didn’t use grades because it was unthinkable to quantify a child,”

    This is baloney. Plenty of very negative things were said about poor students.

    “not because the bad kids had left.”

    Instructors routinely dismissed low performing students or their parents got tired of paying for a failing kid and sent him to do something at which he could be successful.

    “Grades make true education more difficult.”

    I don’t see that.

    “Intelligence is malleable.”

    A little, but definitely not a lot.

    I don’t think students are terribly fragile. If they don’t like the system, they will not just quit because they are frustrated.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    trotk, you can’t make people feel the way you want them to feel. Some like grades. My son is like that. I wasn’t.

    My strategy for studying was know everything, then it didn’t matter what is on the test because I knew it all. But many of my friends were driven to get that number.

    The thing is trotk’s advice works for the interested. I don’t think it is generalizable. I never cared about grades except for final exam grades. My teachers couldn’t motivate me with grades because I only cared about learning not their opinion of me and how well I complied with keeping a notebook. My mother criticized me for taking hard classes because she thought I could get better grades if I would take something easy. I told her that even if I took Chemistry and got an F, I would still learn more than if I never even tried. I was there to learn, not to have someone tell me I had learned. I figured if learned something, I would be well aware of it. So, I know where you are coming from, but most folks do not feel that way and you can’t make them feel that way.

    I tell my son that school is about learning, not about getting a piece of paper that says you know something. If he can’t explain what he learned and why it matters, then he didn’t learn and it really doesn’t matter. Still, he wants that grade. He wants the number. So did my mother, and my husband. It is just a different personality and it is more common than mine.

    Okay, your points.

    “Tests are a great thing in the right circumstances.”

    Yes.

    “Grades are totally arbitrary because someone has to decide how much a question is worth and limit the answer to a number on a scale.”

    This is starting to make sense, but is overstated. I think of all the times I was graded on homework before I had a chance to learn the material and ended up with crappy grades. I was thrilled when I got to high school and we had final exams. There is nothing more vindicating than acing an exam in a class where the grading system is biased towards compliance and against learning. Even when getting an A on the exam wasn’t enough to get an A or even a B in the class, I had the personal satisfaction of the final exam grade and the purile enjoyment of the look on the teacher’s face.

    “Standardized tests are a curse upon our educational system.”

    Only because they are misused and used politically rather than as assessment of students and curriculum.

    “Excellence in education is easily recognizable but rarely quantifiable.”

    Clearly this is not true.

    “Salaries or performance reviews and grades are not the same thing.”

    True, but they are all based on performance, so….

    “Grades rely on a random numeric weighting of various questions,”

    Come on, they are not random. I agree some systems of weighting stink, but they aren’t random.

    “whereas reviews and salaries rely on a verbal description of what someone is worth, which a contract that follows.”

    They are not just verbal. They have specific metrics like exactly how much a salesman sold, or how many hours without a lost time accident or reportable incident, etc.

    “Good schools in the past didn’t use grades because it was unthinkable to quantify a child,”

    This is baloney. Plenty of very negative things were said about poor students.

    “not because the bad kids had left.”

    Instructors routinely dismissed low performing students or their parents got tired of paying for a failing kid and sent him to do something at which he could be successful.

    “Grades make true education more difficult.”

    I don’t see that.

    “Intelligence is malleable.”

    A little, but definitely not a lot.

    I don’t think students are terribly fragile. If they don’t like the system, they will not just quit because they are frustrated.

  • Booklover

    The century-old test looks perfectly legitimate to me. The word “applicant” is not bothersome–it could simply mean “applicant to graduate.”

    Anyone who has done any research on the history of education will find this test to be alike in form and content with tests of the time. Charlotte Mason, in her “homeschooling series,” gives examples of tests in the back of her book which are almost identical to this one. Jessie Wise Bauer, of *The Well-Trained Mind* fame, tells of the education of her grandparents, who didn’t go beyond 8th grade; and it sounds markedly similar to the aforementioned education. Ask your rural-school educated grandparents. They will come up with test questions similar to these.

    Those of us who have homeschooled and have researched homeschooling, have employed test questions such as these. I will be the first to say that some of our students (offspring) excel, and others don’t. :-) But as a teacher, it was wonderful to teach history, grammar, literature, etc., using wonderful literate books, and not having to teach twaddle.

    The fault does not lie in our students of today; it lies in the material which we present to them.

  • Booklover

    The century-old test looks perfectly legitimate to me. The word “applicant” is not bothersome–it could simply mean “applicant to graduate.”

    Anyone who has done any research on the history of education will find this test to be alike in form and content with tests of the time. Charlotte Mason, in her “homeschooling series,” gives examples of tests in the back of her book which are almost identical to this one. Jessie Wise Bauer, of *The Well-Trained Mind* fame, tells of the education of her grandparents, who didn’t go beyond 8th grade; and it sounds markedly similar to the aforementioned education. Ask your rural-school educated grandparents. They will come up with test questions similar to these.

    Those of us who have homeschooled and have researched homeschooling, have employed test questions such as these. I will be the first to say that some of our students (offspring) excel, and others don’t. :-) But as a teacher, it was wonderful to teach history, grammar, literature, etc., using wonderful literate books, and not having to teach twaddle.

    The fault does not lie in our students of today; it lies in the material which we present to them.

  • Grace

    trotk – 42

    “or in the spiritual realm, love and mercy, which is why grades aren’t Christian”

    Nonsense! Grades tell students where they are academically, it’s a benchmark, take it or leave it. Grades aren’t defined as Christian or non Christian.

    “Somehow you keep thinking that I am a mediocre romantic. I am trying to explain that grades keep students from working harder, because they either demoralize or prove that the student is already doing well.”

    You are a “romantic” ! – Grades make students work harder IF they expect to reach their potential goals.

    What motivates students to excellence is teachers taking the time to offer real feedback about where the student is doing well and where he is doing poorly, along with a plan of improvement.”

    Motivation is based on personal goals,….. the goals a young student has are often kept hidden – they may not align themselves with anything you have to say, to persuade them to study. IF, the student receives grades that will prohibit them from achieving their goals, they will change course and study.

  • Grace

    trotk – 42

    “or in the spiritual realm, love and mercy, which is why grades aren’t Christian”

    Nonsense! Grades tell students where they are academically, it’s a benchmark, take it or leave it. Grades aren’t defined as Christian or non Christian.

    “Somehow you keep thinking that I am a mediocre romantic. I am trying to explain that grades keep students from working harder, because they either demoralize or prove that the student is already doing well.”

    You are a “romantic” ! – Grades make students work harder IF they expect to reach their potential goals.

    What motivates students to excellence is teachers taking the time to offer real feedback about where the student is doing well and where he is doing poorly, along with a plan of improvement.”

    Motivation is based on personal goals,….. the goals a young student has are often kept hidden – they may not align themselves with anything you have to say, to persuade them to study. IF, the student receives grades that will prohibit them from achieving their goals, they will change course and study.

  • Booklover

    Correction to my post @47. Jessie Wise Bauer (mother of Susan) was taught classically by her adoptive elderly relatives, Uncle Luther and Meme, not by grandparents.

  • Booklover

    Correction to my post @47. Jessie Wise Bauer (mother of Susan) was taught classically by her adoptive elderly relatives, Uncle Luther and Meme, not by grandparents.

  • Grace

    Malleable – definition

    1. Capable of being shaped or formed, as by hammering or pressure: a malleable metal.
    2. Easily controlled or influenced; tractable.
    3. Able to adjust to changing circumstances; adaptable:

    Intelligence – definition

    The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge.
    The faculty of thought and reason.
    Superior powers of mind.

    trokt – 44 wrote the gem below:

    “Intelligence is malleable”

    No…. REAL intelligence is NOT malleable. The reason is they are intelligent, they aren’t willing to be led by anyone they don’t agree with – that is part of logic and reason,…. they aren’t controlled and influenced unless it meets the standard of logic.

    University is a strange vacation, into which one needs to travel to reach their academic goals, but the real prize is taking what is needed, and then using reason and logic to complete the destination.

  • Grace

    Malleable – definition

    1. Capable of being shaped or formed, as by hammering or pressure: a malleable metal.
    2. Easily controlled or influenced; tractable.
    3. Able to adjust to changing circumstances; adaptable:

    Intelligence – definition

    The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge.
    The faculty of thought and reason.
    Superior powers of mind.

    trokt – 44 wrote the gem below:

    “Intelligence is malleable”

    No…. REAL intelligence is NOT malleable. The reason is they are intelligent, they aren’t willing to be led by anyone they don’t agree with – that is part of logic and reason,…. they aren’t controlled and influenced unless it meets the standard of logic.

    University is a strange vacation, into which one needs to travel to reach their academic goals, but the real prize is taking what is needed, and then using reason and logic to complete the destination.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Trotk, can you email me at [todd * toddstadler.com]? Thanks.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Trotk, can you email me at [todd * toddstadler.com]? Thanks.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Battle of the eighth graders | Cranach: The Blog of Veith -- Topsy.com

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Battle of the eighth graders | Cranach: The Blog of Veith -- Topsy.com

  • WebMonk

    Uh oh trotk! You just got called to the principal’s office! Detention time.

    (Based on our school-based discussion. Of course, I suspect a few people might object to tODD being cast in the role of principal! :-D )

  • WebMonk

    Uh oh trotk! You just got called to the principal’s office! Detention time.

    (Based on our school-based discussion. Of course, I suspect a few people might object to tODD being cast in the role of principal! :-D )

  • Grace

    INTERESTING but not a surprise – last night the first #51 was posted with the typical powder blue background, that is Gene Veith’s signature posting,…. but then 16 minutes later there is a second post #51 that is tODD’s. both identical messages –

    51 Gene Veith February 24, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Trotk, can you email me at [todd * toddstadler.com]? Thanks.

    51 tODD February 24, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Trotk, can you email me at [todd * toddstadler.com]? Thanks.

    WOOPS!

  • Grace

    INTERESTING but not a surprise – last night the first #51 was posted with the typical powder blue background, that is Gene Veith’s signature posting,…. but then 16 minutes later there is a second post #51 that is tODD’s. both identical messages –

    51 Gene Veith February 24, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Trotk, can you email me at [todd * toddstadler.com]? Thanks.

    51 tODD February 24, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Trotk, can you email me at [todd * toddstadler.com]? Thanks.

    WOOPS!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, Grace (@53), your paranoia is charming, but Dr. Veith and I are not the same person. As has already been revealed (and pointed out to you) before, I occasionally help out Dr. Veith by perusing the spam quarantine to release valid comments — or to fix the blog system so it won’t mark valid comments as spam in the first place.

    As it happens, I forgot to log out before I posted my comment. This is my error, not Dr. Veith’s.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh, Grace (@53), your paranoia is charming, but Dr. Veith and I are not the same person. As has already been revealed (and pointed out to you) before, I occasionally help out Dr. Veith by perusing the spam quarantine to release valid comments — or to fix the blog system so it won’t mark valid comments as spam in the first place.

    As it happens, I forgot to log out before I posted my comment. This is my error, not Dr. Veith’s.

  • Grace

    tODD – 54

    “Oh, Grace (@53), your paranoia is charming, but Dr. Veith and I are not the same person. As has already been revealed (and pointed out to you) before, I occasionally help out Dr. Veith by perusing the spam quarantine to release valid comments “

    Paranoia ? don’t get carried away …. just watching you unravel – - No tODD it has not been pointed out to me before, by you. LOL – however, you have let it slip on occasion, which has been rather funny and obvious.

    We KNOW you and Dr. Veith are not the same person, that’s obvious.

  • Grace

    tODD – 54

    “Oh, Grace (@53), your paranoia is charming, but Dr. Veith and I are not the same person. As has already been revealed (and pointed out to you) before, I occasionally help out Dr. Veith by perusing the spam quarantine to release valid comments “

    Paranoia ? don’t get carried away …. just watching you unravel – - No tODD it has not been pointed out to me before, by you. LOL – however, you have let it slip on occasion, which has been rather funny and obvious.

    We KNOW you and Dr. Veith are not the same person, that’s obvious.

  • Porcell

    sg, we’re substantially in agreement. I too regard the Advanced Placement Program as excellent, though it is an oasis in a desert.
    I understand your point that generally American test scores are influenced by especially a lot of inner city school results. Also, While rigorous grading is necessary, the fundamental purpose of education is understanding and knowledge.

    Thomas Sowell in a recent interview by Jay Nordlinger remarked that he thought he was working hard at Harvard College when his first grades were two D’s and two F’s. His roommate had warned him that he needed to work harder, though it took those grades to wake him up. He eventually graduated Magna Cum Laude at a time when Harvard had serious grading standards for minorities as well as whites.

  • Porcell

    sg, we’re substantially in agreement. I too regard the Advanced Placement Program as excellent, though it is an oasis in a desert.
    I understand your point that generally American test scores are influenced by especially a lot of inner city school results. Also, While rigorous grading is necessary, the fundamental purpose of education is understanding and knowledge.

    Thomas Sowell in a recent interview by Jay Nordlinger remarked that he thought he was working hard at Harvard College when his first grades were two D’s and two F’s. His roommate had warned him that he needed to work harder, though it took those grades to wake him up. He eventually graduated Magna Cum Laude at a time when Harvard had serious grading standards for minorities as well as whites.

  • Porcell

    Grace, at 53, glad you picked up that rather revealing bit. It appears that the fox is in the hen house.

  • Porcell

    Grace, at 53, glad you picked up that rather revealing bit. It appears that the fox is in the hen house.

  • Grace

    Porcell – 57 – when I saw the post on the screen last night, I thought I was seeing double. Dr. Veith asking trotk to send an email to him at tODD’s email. My husband and I were in our home office, I asked him to view my computer … we both laughed – then another appeared to replace it.

    You said it ” It appears that the fox is in the hen house.”

  • Grace

    Porcell – 57 – when I saw the post on the screen last night, I thought I was seeing double. Dr. Veith asking trotk to send an email to him at tODD’s email. My husband and I were in our home office, I asked him to view my computer … we both laughed – then another appeared to replace it.

    You said it ” It appears that the fox is in the hen house.”

  • WebMonk

    My curiosity is overcoming my better judgement.

    In what possible way is tODD (openly, for quite a while now) helping to take care of spam and things somehow analogous to the fox/henhouse image?

  • WebMonk

    My curiosity is overcoming my better judgement.

    In what possible way is tODD (openly, for quite a while now) helping to take care of spam and things somehow analogous to the fox/henhouse image?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@55), “Paranoia ? don’t get carried away”, and yet you were the one who found it, and I quote, “INTERESTING but not a surprise” … that I forgot to log out.

    “No tODD it has not been pointed out to me before, by you.” Well, as we say around these parts, WOOPS! Let’s see, here is a post where I acknowledge that I “help out behind the scenes”, and — would you look at that! — here is a post by Grace acknowledging that very same post! Adding, no less, “That explains a great deal!” (Which sounds kind of paranoid.)

    Oh, and speaking of paranoid, just for posterity’s sake, here is a link to a conversation where Grace responds to Dust’s discovery of a Web site of mine, in which Grace says, and I quote: “Dust #573……. is giving out a blog site that matches YOURS tODD…… LOL, LOL, LOL, …… hoot and toot!” That was, of course, only a few minutes before Grace penned her most infamous (and impenetrable) comment ever here, and I quote in full, “SOCKS, blog tag – SHAME!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Grace said (@55), “Paranoia ? don’t get carried away”, and yet you were the one who found it, and I quote, “INTERESTING but not a surprise” … that I forgot to log out.

    “No tODD it has not been pointed out to me before, by you.” Well, as we say around these parts, WOOPS! Let’s see, here is a post where I acknowledge that I “help out behind the scenes”, and — would you look at that! — here is a post by Grace acknowledging that very same post! Adding, no less, “That explains a great deal!” (Which sounds kind of paranoid.)

    Oh, and speaking of paranoid, just for posterity’s sake, here is a link to a conversation where Grace responds to Dust’s discovery of a Web site of mine, in which Grace says, and I quote: “Dust #573……. is giving out a blog site that matches YOURS tODD…… LOL, LOL, LOL, …… hoot and toot!” That was, of course, only a few minutes before Grace penned her most infamous (and impenetrable) comment ever here, and I quote in full, “SOCKS, blog tag – SHAME!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Of course, that link above (@60), has me acknowledging my role on 12/25/10. But Veith actually wrote two posts about my role even earlier than that! One from December 1, 2010, and one from December 9, 2010. Grace and Porcell, you guys just aren’t paying attention.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Of course, that link above (@60), has me acknowledging my role on 12/25/10. But Veith actually wrote two posts about my role even earlier than that! One from December 1, 2010, and one from December 9, 2010. Grace and Porcell, you guys just aren’t paying attention.

  • Grace

    tODD – 60

    You’re in a real DITHER! paranoid maybe?

    I don’t believe anyone would have thought you had been given the tools to use Dr. Veith’s signature posting method, which always a light blue background when he posts to those on the blog within a thread. Well we know now you’ve got them !

  • Grace

    tODD – 60

    You’re in a real DITHER! paranoid maybe?

    I don’t believe anyone would have thought you had been given the tools to use Dr. Veith’s signature posting method, which always a light blue background when he posts to those on the blog within a thread. Well we know now you’ve got them !

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Well, Grace (@62), who knows? Maybe I’ve been writing all the blog posts, as well! Maybe I’m the one who should be excommunicated for quoting a Bible passage starting in the middle of a verse?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Well, Grace (@62), who knows? Maybe I’ve been writing all the blog posts, as well! Maybe I’m the one who should be excommunicated for quoting a Bible passage starting in the middle of a verse?

  • Porcell

    WebMonk, in case you don’t it know it this, as is the case with blogs, is a rather polemical site; among the most polemical characters on the blog is a fellow named Todd, whom we now understand, not necessarily reading every post during the Christmas 2010 season, determines what is and isn’t spam.

    Of course, knowing that Todd is a saint, we may trust his objectivity on spam matters.

  • Porcell

    WebMonk, in case you don’t it know it this, as is the case with blogs, is a rather polemical site; among the most polemical characters on the blog is a fellow named Todd, whom we now understand, not necessarily reading every post during the Christmas 2010 season, determines what is and isn’t spam.

    Of course, knowing that Todd is a saint, we may trust his objectivity on spam matters.

  • Grace

    tODD, ….

    We now know your “vocation” - therefore duly enlightened!

  • Grace

    tODD, ….

    We now know your “vocation” - therefore duly enlightened!

  • Porcell

    Grace, be careful with your language. You are dealing with the commissar of spam.

  • Porcell

    Grace, be careful with your language. You are dealing with the commissar of spam.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh good, now Peter’s going to weigh in on more technology he doesn’t understand. Peter, if you read the links I provided carefully, you will discover that I still don’t determine “what is spam”, though I occasionally deem something to be not spam. But don’t let my facts get in the way of your paranoia. Shouldn’t you be off enjoying the Bahamas, anyhow? Do you spend all your time there looking at a computer and mocking people?

    Grace (@65), well done. Doesn’t sound at all paranoid.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Oh good, now Peter’s going to weigh in on more technology he doesn’t understand. Peter, if you read the links I provided carefully, you will discover that I still don’t determine “what is spam”, though I occasionally deem something to be not spam. But don’t let my facts get in the way of your paranoia. Shouldn’t you be off enjoying the Bahamas, anyhow? Do you spend all your time there looking at a computer and mocking people?

    Grace (@65), well done. Doesn’t sound at all paranoid.

  • Grace

    tODD

    I warm glass of milk and a nap might help. You need to calm down, everyone has a “vocation” – we understand, really we do!

  • Grace

    tODD

    I warm glass of milk and a nap might help. You need to calm down, everyone has a “vocation” – we understand, really we do!

  • trotk

    I believe that Peter and Grace might be the same person. tODD, can you find out? Do your powers let you go that far?

    Who knows what the actual person posing as both Peter and Grace is like?

    One prone to arguments from authority and reading minds. The other prone to indecipherable statements followed by a claim that she (or he?) has explained herself before and won’t do it again!

    The intrigue…

  • trotk

    I believe that Peter and Grace might be the same person. tODD, can you find out? Do your powers let you go that far?

    Who knows what the actual person posing as both Peter and Grace is like?

    One prone to arguments from authority and reading minds. The other prone to indecipherable statements followed by a claim that she (or he?) has explained herself before and won’t do it again!

    The intrigue…

  • WebMonk

    64, I realize you’re still all nice and relaxed, back from the Bahamas and all, but a bit more care about grammar, disjointed topics, and run-on sentences would help me understand your comment. I have no clue what you’re trying to say.

  • WebMonk

    64, I realize you’re still all nice and relaxed, back from the Bahamas and all, but a bit more care about grammar, disjointed topics, and run-on sentences would help me understand your comment. I have no clue what you’re trying to say.

  • WebMonk

    trotke! I’m glad you’re no longer in detention! You need to be careful about tODD’s awesome power on this blog! :-D

  • WebMonk

    trotke! I’m glad you’re no longer in detention! You need to be careful about tODD’s awesome power on this blog! :-D

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Well, I do have a revelation regarding one part, of Petergrace, but I’m waiting for the right moment to reveal it.

    Here’s a hint though: Piggy-wiggy is actually a literary character come to life. A character that was created about two centuries ago, give or take a decade.

  • http://theobservationtree.blogspot.com Louis

    Well, I do have a revelation regarding one part, of Petergrace, but I’m waiting for the right moment to reveal it.

    Here’s a hint though: Piggy-wiggy is actually a literary character come to life. A character that was created about two centuries ago, give or take a decade.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    All right, Louis (@72), Trotk (@69), let’s not have you two sounding paranoid/conspiratorial, as well, hmm? Grace and Porcell share none of the same verbal tics — and Porcell’s are very consistent, even on different Web sites than this one!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    All right, Louis (@72), Trotk (@69), let’s not have you two sounding paranoid/conspiratorial, as well, hmm? Grace and Porcell share none of the same verbal tics — and Porcell’s are very consistent, even on different Web sites than this one!

  • Booklover

    Shoot! I thought there were 20 added posts on the topic of education, but there, well, wasn’t.

  • Booklover

    Shoot! I thought there were 20 added posts on the topic of education, but there, well, wasn’t.

  • Pingback: Combing the Net – 2/24/2011 « Honey and Locusts

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  • trotk

    Yeah, WebMonk, tODD released me from the cellar. While I was there he let me know that kids in 1895 were smarter than today because of the whippings they gave at school back then.

  • trotk

    Yeah, WebMonk, tODD released me from the cellar. While I was there he let me know that kids in 1895 were smarter than today because of the whippings they gave at school back then.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Man, I’ll bet Veith didn’t know how prophetic he was being when he titled this blog post “Battle of the eighth graders”! ;)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Man, I’ll bet Veith didn’t know how prophetic he was being when he titled this blog post “Battle of the eighth graders”! ;)

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “No…. REAL intelligence is NOT malleable. The reason is they are intelligent, they aren’t willing to be led by anyone they don’t agree with – that is part of logic and reason,…. they aren’t controlled and influenced unless it meets the standard of logic.”

    Some have noted that the intelligent are easier to influence because they are willing to consider and embrace complex and novel explanations, whereas the simple, not being so clever are more given to the obvious explanation. I don’t know if that is truly the case, but have seen the argument made.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “No…. REAL intelligence is NOT malleable. The reason is they are intelligent, they aren’t willing to be led by anyone they don’t agree with – that is part of logic and reason,…. they aren’t controlled and influenced unless it meets the standard of logic.”

    Some have noted that the intelligent are easier to influence because they are willing to consider and embrace complex and novel explanations, whereas the simple, not being so clever are more given to the obvious explanation. I don’t know if that is truly the case, but have seen the argument made.

  • Grace

    sg – 77 – I wrote the referenced quote you copied above, and then your answer below:

    “Some have noted that the intelligent are easier to influence because they are willing to consider and embrace complex and novel explanations, whereas the simple, not being so clever are more given to the obvious explanation. I don’t know if that is truly the case, but have seen the argument made.”

    Sg, you may have witnessed the argument, but I don’t buy the results. Those who have logic skills, THINK before they believe what anyone says. Skillful minds, adept at critical thinking are not easily swayed, they measure the consequences, they certainly don’t fall prey to “novel explanations” – that is not the mark of intelligence, but a mind who deals in the fantasy world.

  • Grace

    sg – 77 – I wrote the referenced quote you copied above, and then your answer below:

    “Some have noted that the intelligent are easier to influence because they are willing to consider and embrace complex and novel explanations, whereas the simple, not being so clever are more given to the obvious explanation. I don’t know if that is truly the case, but have seen the argument made.”

    Sg, you may have witnessed the argument, but I don’t buy the results. Those who have logic skills, THINK before they believe what anyone says. Skillful minds, adept at critical thinking are not easily swayed, they measure the consequences, they certainly don’t fall prey to “novel explanations” – that is not the mark of intelligence, but a mind who deals in the fantasy world.

  • WebMonk

    sg, what you just put forward reminds me of an example from a college psychology course. One group of people was told that a study showed cautious people make the best firemen. Another group was told that a study showed impulsive people make the best firemen. That was it.

    They were then brought together to argue it out and each side developed impressive rationales for why their side was correct. I highly suspect that the gullibility/influencibility of high/low intelligence people is the exact same thing.

  • WebMonk

    sg, what you just put forward reminds me of an example from a college psychology course. One group of people was told that a study showed cautious people make the best firemen. Another group was told that a study showed impulsive people make the best firemen. That was it.

    They were then brought together to argue it out and each side developed impressive rationales for why their side was correct. I highly suspect that the gullibility/influencibility of high/low intelligence people is the exact same thing.

  • Grace

    Webmonk – 79

    “sg, what you just put forward reminds me of an example from a college psychology course. One group of people was told that a study showed cautious people make the best firemen. Another group was told that a study showed impulsive people make the best firemen. That was it.”

    People who make a decision to save a life, have only a moment to choose how they might do that, they aren’t afforded the time to think it through, some, firemen, police, and those who are passerby’s make the momentary decision – that is a very different from highly intelligent people who have time to come to thoughtful conclusions, don’t mix the two together, they aren’t the same, however each serves an important purpose

    This doesn’t have anything to do with those who are highly intelligent, and have time to make a decision based on educational background, facts, logic and critical thinking.

  • Grace

    Webmonk – 79

    “sg, what you just put forward reminds me of an example from a college psychology course. One group of people was told that a study showed cautious people make the best firemen. Another group was told that a study showed impulsive people make the best firemen. That was it.”

    People who make a decision to save a life, have only a moment to choose how they might do that, they aren’t afforded the time to think it through, some, firemen, police, and those who are passerby’s make the momentary decision – that is a very different from highly intelligent people who have time to come to thoughtful conclusions, don’t mix the two together, they aren’t the same, however each serves an important purpose

    This doesn’t have anything to do with those who are highly intelligent, and have time to make a decision based on educational background, facts, logic and critical thinking.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Those who have logic skills, THINK before they believe what anyone says.”

    Sounds more like the definition of a natural skeptic than one trained in logic.

    “Skillful minds, adept at critical thinking are not easily swayed,”

    Unless they want to be. Also, people are much more easily swayed when they perceive that it will benefit them to agree with those in power. Likewise, they are more likely to pick up on the clues as to which is the socially preferred position because smart folks are socially higher functioning.

    “they measure the consequences, they certainly don’t fall prey to “novel explanations” – that is not the mark of intelligence, but a mind who deals in the fantasy world.”

    Novel does not mean baseless. It means thinking out of the box and looking at other possibilities. Researchers invent and refute reasonable hypotheses all the time. Those who can’t think of any other possible explanations for situations are not very bright.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “Those who have logic skills, THINK before they believe what anyone says.”

    Sounds more like the definition of a natural skeptic than one trained in logic.

    “Skillful minds, adept at critical thinking are not easily swayed,”

    Unless they want to be. Also, people are much more easily swayed when they perceive that it will benefit them to agree with those in power. Likewise, they are more likely to pick up on the clues as to which is the socially preferred position because smart folks are socially higher functioning.

    “they measure the consequences, they certainly don’t fall prey to “novel explanations” – that is not the mark of intelligence, but a mind who deals in the fantasy world.”

    Novel does not mean baseless. It means thinking out of the box and looking at other possibilities. Researchers invent and refute reasonable hypotheses all the time. Those who can’t think of any other possible explanations for situations are not very bright.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Sounds more like the definition of a natural skeptic than one trained in logic.

    I’ll just expand this a little. Logic is a tool. An incurious person, even if trained to use logic as a reasoning tool, is less likely to use apply logic. Similarly, all kids are taught to solve math word problems, but many can’t actually do it. So, even though they can do the basic arithmetic necessary to solve them, they can’t apply it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Sounds more like the definition of a natural skeptic than one trained in logic.

    I’ll just expand this a little. Logic is a tool. An incurious person, even if trained to use logic as a reasoning tool, is less likely to use apply logic. Similarly, all kids are taught to solve math word problems, but many can’t actually do it. So, even though they can do the basic arithmetic necessary to solve them, they can’t apply it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Webmonk, I don’t follow what you mean.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Webmonk, I don’t follow what you mean.

  • WebMonk

    sg, I was replying to this particular paragraph in 77.

    Some have noted that the intelligent are easier to influence because they are willing to consider and embrace complex and novel explanations, whereas the simple, not being so clever are more given to the obvious explanation. I don’t know if that is truly the case, but have seen the argument made.

    If people are told a study shows that intelligent people are easier to influence, then they will tend to come up with rationales as to why that must be true, similar to what you mentioned. If they are told the opposite, then they will tend to come up with rationales to support that position.

    I wouldn’t put too much trust in either side of what you said about high or low intelligence people being easier to influence – it sounds exactly like the ad hoc, after-the-fact rationales made up to to support the cautious/impulsive firefighters “studies”.

  • WebMonk

    sg, I was replying to this particular paragraph in 77.

    Some have noted that the intelligent are easier to influence because they are willing to consider and embrace complex and novel explanations, whereas the simple, not being so clever are more given to the obvious explanation. I don’t know if that is truly the case, but have seen the argument made.

    If people are told a study shows that intelligent people are easier to influence, then they will tend to come up with rationales as to why that must be true, similar to what you mentioned. If they are told the opposite, then they will tend to come up with rationales to support that position.

    I wouldn’t put too much trust in either side of what you said about high or low intelligence people being easier to influence – it sounds exactly like the ad hoc, after-the-fact rationales made up to to support the cautious/impulsive firefighters “studies”.

  • Grace

    Sg – 81 and 82

    Your comments on these posts are smattered with inconclusive ideas, based on “out of the box” thinking ? – that particular phrase doesn’t apply to intelligent individuals, they don’t think within the confines of a so called “box”. The phrase itself, is a dull play on words.

  • Grace

    Sg – 81 and 82

    Your comments on these posts are smattered with inconclusive ideas, based on “out of the box” thinking ? – that particular phrase doesn’t apply to intelligent individuals, they don’t think within the confines of a so called “box”. The phrase itself, is a dull play on words.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “If people are told a study shows that intelligent people are easier to influence, then they will tend to come up with rationales as to why that must be true, similar to what you mentioned. If they are told the opposite, then they will tend to come up with rationales to support that position.”

    Okay, but that isn’t what I am talking about. Rather, I meant that if you offer a very complex hypothesis to explain something, you will get more takers from the bright crowd than from the simple. Is that true? Dunno, but it is an interesting idea.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “If people are told a study shows that intelligent people are easier to influence, then they will tend to come up with rationales as to why that must be true, similar to what you mentioned. If they are told the opposite, then they will tend to come up with rationales to support that position.”

    Okay, but that isn’t what I am talking about. Rather, I meant that if you offer a very complex hypothesis to explain something, you will get more takers from the bright crowd than from the simple. Is that true? Dunno, but it is an interesting idea.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Grace @85 What is your point?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Grace @85 What is your point?

  • Grace

    Sg, I made it very clear – we obviously don’t agree

  • Grace

    Sg, I made it very clear – we obviously don’t agree

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I made it very clear.”

    It is not clear to me.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I made it very clear.”

    It is not clear to me.

  • Grace

    Sg,

    With all due respect, I have stated what I believe, based upon my background, education, and those I know within my profession and that of my husband and friends. It serves no purpose to work this over any longer.

  • Grace

    Sg,

    With all due respect, I have stated what I believe, based upon my background, education, and those I know within my profession and that of my husband and friends. It serves no purpose to work this over any longer.

  • Grace

    Sg,

    I will offer this suggestion: It is much more time efficient if you would use the name of the poster regarding their quote when you use the quote during discussion. We ALL occasionally trip up, but it’s not a great way to communicate to another individual.

  • Grace

    Sg,

    I will offer this suggestion: It is much more time efficient if you would use the name of the poster regarding their quote when you use the quote during discussion. We ALL occasionally trip up, but it’s not a great way to communicate to another individual.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Grace, the comment @85 wasn’t clear. That is why I didn’t understand it.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Grace, the comment @85 wasn’t clear. That is why I didn’t understand it.


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