Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/247

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243
THE LABORATORY METHOD

THE LABORATORY METHOD AND HIGH SCHOOL EFFICIENCY
By Professor OTIS W. CALDWELL
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

IT is a striking fact that for twenty years there has been no increase in the percentage of pupils who complete a high school course. In the period between 1900 and 1910, the number of pupils in public high schools in the United States has increased over 76 per cent, (from 519,251 to 915,061).[1] During this same period the number of high school teachers who teach these pupils has increased over 100 per cent, (from 20,372 to 41,667). The number and value of high school properties has increased proportionately during this period, including improvement in the quality and quantity of facilities for work in libraries, laboratories, gymnasia, etc. But for twenty years, approximately twelve per cent. of the enrollment of the high schools has been graduated. Regardless of the increase in facilities, and of an increase in teaching force, which is one third greater than the increase in the number of pupils, and of an assumed increase in the relative efficiency of this teaching force, and regardless of the increased public belief in secondary education, there has been no increase in twenty years in the percentage of high school pupils that take a full high school course. The fact that they begin the work indicates clearly that some one in control regards it as worth while for some reason for these pupils to engage upon the work of the secondary schools, though they may at the outset expect to do but one or a few years of the work. But the fact that approximately 88 per cent, do not complete a course indicates that most of those who thought it worth while to enter the high school, for some or many reasons do not find it possible or perhaps not worth while to follow out the course, even if at the outset they intend doing so.

Failure to carry school work is one prominent factor in the elimination of pupils from school, though doubtless the content of the curriculum, and social and economic conditions may often be determining or contributing factors. In one large high school 432 pupils entered the freshmen class in the autumn of 1909. Of these 432, 338 left school before completing the third semester, thus leaving 94 of the original 432 in school. Of those who left, 124 made no passing credit in the school and 121 others failed to receive passing credits in 43 per cent, of the subjects which they took. The remaining 93 pupils who left school made average grades above 80 per cent. (75 being the passing grade in

  1. Ann. Rep. U. S. Com. of Ed., 1911, p. 9.