The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Education, Secondary, in America

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Education, Secondary, in America
Edition of 1920. See also Secondary education in the United States on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

EDUCATION, Secondary, in America. The history of American secondary education presents three stages of development: First, the colonial period, with its Latin grammar schools; secondly, the period extending from the Revolutionary War to the middle of the 19th century, with the “academy”; and, thirdly, the period down to the present, chiefly characterized by the growth of public high schools.


1. The Founding of Grammar Schools. — The influences which most vitally affected the early development of secondary education in America were the example of the “grammar schools” of England and the rising spirit of democracy, which was largely Calvinistic in its modes of thought and kept tn touch with Calvinistic portions of Europe.

Early in the history of the colony of Virginia, funds were raised and lands set apart for the endowment of a Latin grammar school. But these promising beginnings were swept away by the Indian massacre of 1622 and the school seems never to have been opened. The town of Boston set up a Latin school in 1635, which has had a continuous existence down to the present time. This school was established by vote of the citizens in a town meeting; it was supported by private donations and by the rent of certain islands in the harbor, designated by the town for that purpose; and a town rate seems to have been levied when necessary to make up a salary of $244.50 a year for the master. Other Massachusetts towns followed the example of Boston. School fees were commonly collected. A town rate, which was depended upon at first only to supplement other sources of revenue, gradually came to be the main reliance; and by the middle of the 18th century most of the grammar schools of Massachusetts charged no fee for tuition. Latin schools were early established in Connecticut; one at New Haven in 1641 and one at Hartford not later than 1642. A notable bequest of Edward Hopkins, sometime governor of Connecticut colony, available soon after the middle of the 17th century, was devoted to the maintenance of Latin grammar schools in Hartford and New Haven, and also in the towns of Hadley and Cambridge in Massachusetts. The Dutch at New Amsterdam opened a Latin school in 1659, continued for some years after the colony passed under English rule. Secondary schools were established in Pennsylvania in the latter part of the 17th century. One of these, the William Penn Charter School at Philadelphia, has continued down to the present day. King William's school at Annapolis was erected by the legislature of Maryland in 1696 and similar schools were established in different sections of the same colony. The 18th century saw schools of like character opened, partly by legislative enactment, partly by private initiative, in these and in the remaining colonies. Some of the number, like the University Grammar School in Rhode Island and the Free School at New York, were the fore-runners or the accompaniments of colonial colleges.

2. Character of the Grammar Schools. — The chief emphasis in these colonial schools was laid on preparation for the college entrance examination and the requirements for admission to college determined the course of study. The colonial grammar schools accordingly taught Latin, a little Greek, religion and little else. Both grammar schools and colleges were intended especially for the directive and professional classes and had little connection with such elementary schools as there were. In Massachusetts, towns which maintained grammar schools were not required to maintain reading schools. Sometimes pupils were taught to read in grammar schools, but the grammar school teachers objected to this burden; and, too, the mixing of the two grades of a in one school was recognized as an evil. The grammar schools exercised a kind of selective function, discovering latent capacity for the higher studies and starting talented youth on the way to college. Those who showed capacity of a lower grade or of a different sort received little attention or encouragement.

3. The Organization of Colonial Systems. — In the organization of colonial systems of secondary education important beginnings were made. In 1647 the colonial legislature of Massachusetts decreed that an elementary school should be maintained in every town of 50 families; and that in every town of 100 families there should be a grammar school, in which students might be fitted for the university. This provision was copied by the colonies of Connecticut and New Hampshire, and in Connecticut the provision was afterward changed to require a grammar school in each county town. These New England colonies maintained and enforced such provisions down to and after the Revolution. Maryland also established by law a system of county grammar schools. When the colonies were transferred into States, after the Declaration of Independence, the systems of schools in the four colonies mentioned were continued with little change, but no other of the 13 States had anything that could be called a system of public instruction.


1. The Founding of Academies. — As we approach the Revolutionary period, we find new social conditions giving rise to a new order of schools. With the growth of sectarian differences there appeared a decided tendency toward the separation of government from ecclesiastical affairs and thus the position of educational institutions was disturbed. This change lessened the prestige of colonial systems of education among the adherents of the religious denominations and a growing distrust of the colleges appeared among those who were most in accord with the secularizing tendency of the time. The old grammar schools were weakened by these influences and in their stead there grew up a new type of secondary school, commonly known as the academy.

Both the name and the character of the new institution were suggested by precedents in England, where the Dissenters were excluded from grammar schools and universities. In the latter part of the 17th century the non-conformist bodies first established “academies,” schools in the main secondary, which, however, undertook to prepare candidates for the non-conformist ministry. The fame of these English academies seems to have influenced the thought of the American colonists in the matter of public education: first the strong theological bent of their English prototypes reappeared in the new American schools; and then the resemblance was more obvious in the wide range of studies offered, for the English academy had been more practical and technical than the university. But the American academics soon came to have a well-defined character of their own, apart from any conscious imitation of English models.

In 1726, a school for classical and theological studies was established by a Presbyterian minister at Neshaminy, in Pennsylvania. It was commonly known as the “Log College,” as its home was a building made of logs. This school in the wilderness was the centre of deep and widespread interest in classical studies as well as in the religious life. It sent out large numbers of zealous pastors and teachers, who established “log colleges” all over the highlands of the middle and southern colonies. The Neshaminy Log College itself was later incorporated with what is now Princeton University. Through the efforts of Benjamin Franklin, a school was established at Philadelphia, legally incorporated as an academy in 1753, and probably the first institution in America formally designated by that title. It was under the control of a self-perpetuating board of trustees. A fund raised by private subscription for its establishment and maintenance was supplemented by a grant from the city treasury and by tuition fees, which were remitted in the case of those unable to pay. This academy organized in three departments or schools; namely, the Latin, the English and the mathematical, put little stress on the theological element and much on English language and literature and the mathematical sciences. The school ultimately developed into the University of Pennsylvania. Within two or three decades after the founding of this school at Philadelphia, a number of schools somewhat similar in character, and some of them bearing the name academy, were established in the middle and southern colonies. In New England the two Phillips academies, one at Andover in Massachusetts and the other at Exeter in New Hampshire, were incorporated in 1780 and 1781, respectively. The influence of these two schools extended to remote States, especially in the growing West; and they still rank among the strongest and most influential secondary schools. The academy movement begun in Revolutionary times grew apace even down to the period of the Civil War. More than 150 were incorporated in Massachusetts alone between 1780 and 1865. Dexter in his ‘History of Education in the United States’ tabulates 6,085 academies in the United States in 1850, employing 12,260 teachers and giving instruction to 263,096 pupils.

2. The Character of the Older Academies. — The old academies were generally endowed institutions, organized under the control of self-perpetuating boards of trustees or of religious bodies, established to serve the need of a wide constituency and not merely of a single community, and often located in small country places. Many of them made provision for boarders as well as for day pupils. They were not intended in any exclusive sense for the training of future members of the learned professions, although many of these developed into preparatory schools. In the Western States preparatory schools attached to colleges were commonly called “academies.” But such was not the earlier purpose of the academies, which were largely schools for the middle classes and answered to a growing desire after learning for its own sake, or for the increased efficiency it would give in other than professional pursuits.

Their training was more “practical” than that of the colleges, wider and more liberal than that of the grammar schools, or of some of the colleges. They laid new stress on the study of the English language, together with grammar, rhetoric and public speaking. They taught mathematics, often including surveying and navigation; began the study of natural science, especially of natural philosophy (physics), of which astronomy constituted an important division; gave courses in geography, ancient history, English and above all American history, French often and German seldom. Latin and Greek were the substantial core of the instruction offered. In the earlier days, the course of study was not well defined. In English, Latin and mathematics a good degree of continuity of work was apparently maintained, but in others, classes were formed at irregular periods, because of the exigencies of rural life which demanded certain courses be confined to a short winter term not interfering with farm labor. When finally definite courses of study were laid out, they varied in length from three to four or five years. Parallel courses were offered. That including classical studies and covering the required preparation for admission to some college was commonly regarded as the standard course of the school. With this might be found an English course. Afterward a scientific course was often provided.

Many of these schools were established by religious bodies. Catholic secondary schools began to appear in this period, established by the several teaching orders. The Society of Jesus founded institutions of secondary and higher education in the United States after the Revolutionary War; the Brothers of the Christian Schools opened their first school in America at Montreal in 1838; soon after set up establishments within the United States, at Baltimore and New York, and followed these elementary schools with secondary courses; and besides many conventual schools for girls were established, which drew a large clientage from ether than Catholic families. The academies established by Protestant bodies usually terminated their formal connection with ecclesiastical societies upon their legal incorporation. The religious instruction which they carried on concerned itself for the most part with the broad underlying principles of Christianity, so that the non-Catholic academies, even such as had arisen from the initiative of religious societies, tended toward the non-sectarian character which has been more fully exemplified in the public schools of later times.

The grammar schools had been exclusively for boys. Such was the case with many of the academies. But others were coeducational, and there grew up also a large number of academies for girls, which were all too often weighed down with the title of “female seminary.” The last two prepared the way for two types in higher education, appearing in the fourth decade of the 19th century; namely, the coeducational college and the college for women exclusively.

The academies broadened the intellectual horizon of families and communities and reinforced the protest which was arising against the narrow curriculum of the American colleges. In the absence of special schools for the training of teachers, the better elementary schools were for a long time in the hands of academy graduates. Special classes were organized in New York and Pennsylvania academies for instruction in the art of teaching and a seminary for teachers was opened in connection with Phillips Academy at Andover. When State normal schools began to be established in Massachusetts in the year 1839, suggestions for their organization and management were drawn from this seminary and from the current practice of academies. With the introduction and subsequent rapid growth of normal schools in this country a new means of secondary training of considerable importance was added since these institutions began and continued to devote a large share of their time to work essentially academic in character and of secondary rank.

3. The Rise of the Public High School. — In the early part of the 19th century there appeared a strong demand for schools under the exclusive control of the State. The Calvinistic view of the civil power had prepared the way for State agency in education, and the steadily advancing separation between Church and State kept alive the question as to the relation of the schools to both. The well-established theory that the State should grant charters to colleges, authorizing them to manage their own affairs under close corporations, with incidental aid from the State in the shape of gifts of land or money, was long applied to secondary education as well. The first step in the establishment of public secondary schools was taken by the larger towns and municipalities, under the lead of Boston, where in 1821 was established an “English Classical School,” which soon took the name of “English High School,” probably imitating the style of the Edinburgh High School. The report to the school committee made at the time of its founding said: “The mode of education now adopted, and the branches of knowledge that are taught at our English grammar schools are not sufficiently extensive nor otherwise calculated to bring the powers of the mind into operation nor to qualify a youth to fill usefully and respectably many of the stations, both public and private, in which he may be placed.” A three-year course was adopted, embracing English language and literature, mathematics, navigation and surveying, geography, natural philosophy (including astronomy), history, logic, and moral and political philosophy. Latin and modern languages were added afterward and the course was extended to four years. Students were received into the high school from the elementary schools of the city, but at first were not prepared for admission to college, that being the function of the Latin school. But with the addition of foreign languages to its course of study the English High School fitted its students for admission to certain higher institutions.

Other Massachusetts towns followed the lead of Boston in this matter. Philadelphia, in 1838, established the Central High School, under special authorization from the Pennsylvania legislature. Baltimore followed with the establishment of a “city college.” Providence opened a public high school in 1843. Hartford, in 1847, transformed her old grammar school into a school of the newer type. New York opened a “free academy” in 1848, the name of which was afterward changed to the College of the City of New York. This school was established in accordance with a special act of the State legislature, ratified by vote of the people of the city. The growth of public high schools prior to the Civil War was not rapid. The exact number established in the first 40 years of the movement has not been accurately determined, due to the inaccuracy and meagerness of data upon the question. Inglis, compiling from data given in the report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 1904, estimates the total number established prior to 1860 at 321, indicating, however, that the estimate is probably very inexact. Cubberly, following a table prepared by William T. Harris while United States Commissioner of Education, says that as late as 1860 but 69 of our present cities are regarded as having organized a clearly defined high-school course of study. Prior to the Civil War, and for a long time after it, the public high school movement encountered hostility from those who regarded the academy as the final or best solution of the problem of public secondary education. It also encountered hostility from those who were opposed on principle to the recognition of secondary education as a proper field for governmental agency.

4. The Beginnings of State Systems of Secondary Education. — Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, new State systems of education began to be established, in which special provision was made for secondary schools. The University of the State of New York, erected in 1784, is a notable example of the strong influence which French thought then exercised in American affairs, as it realized the conception of a university put forth by Diderot and others of the great French writers of the latter half of the 18th century. It embraced the whole provision for secondary and higher education within the State, with the exception of schools of a purely private character. Its control was vested in a Board of Regents, consisting of the governor and the lieutenant-governor, ex officio, and 19 members elected by the State legislature. The reorganization of 1787 made the Board of Regents distinct from the Board of Trustees of Columbia College, with which it had been identical. This “university” exercised great influence on later systems; and in Georgia, by an act passed in 1785, “All public schools instituted, or to be supported by funds or public moneys in this State, shall be considered as parts or members of the university”; and in the territory of Michigan an act was passed in 1817 instituting a university of imposing character. The latter establishment existed mainly on paper, and the act incorporating it was repealed in 1821. The Georgia “university” also never amounted to much in its original form. But although the comprehensive type of university organization was not widely adopted, there was a general desire in the early part of the 19th century to establish complete and well-rounded systems of public instruction. The legislature of Tennessee declared in 1817 that “Institutions of learning, both academies and colleges, should ever be under the fostering care of this legislature, and in their connection with each other form a complete system of education.” Even more significant is the provision of the constitution of Indiana, adopted in 1816, that “It shall be the duty of the general assembly, as soon as circumstances will permit, to provide by law for a general system of education, ascending in regular gradation from township schools to a State university wherein tuition shall be gratis and equally open to all.”

For the most part, however, actual State agency in secondary education was as yet limited to the subsidizing of privately managed academies. In Massachusetts the provision for grammar schools under town control was continued after the colony became a State, but the law was so changed that only the larger towns were left subject to this requirement. At the same time academies established by private initiative were endowed by the legislature with grants of public lands. In Kentucky the State legislature granted 6,000 acres of public lands to an academy in each county. In Pennsylvania colleges and academies received financial aid from the State for many years, culminating in 1838 in a general State system of educational subsidies. Five years later such aid was discontinued. In other States the granting of State subsidies, in money or lands, to secondary and higher schools was customary for many years. For the most part there was but little system or consistency observable in the distribution of such aid; and the State-aided institutions were not subjected to any sort of State control.

It would seem an easy transition from the State policy of granting subsidies to private secondary schools to the policy of providing by law for the establishment, and even the support, of such institutions. This transition was not, however, readily made, since, as has been mentioned, many objected to the principle involved regarding secondary education as a proper field of governmental agency. The legal questions wrapped up in this latter contention were not settled until 1874, when the Supreme Court of Michigan, in what is known as the “Kalamazoo Case,” decided: “Neither in our State policy, in our constitution, nor in our laws do we find the primary school districts restricted in the branches of knowledge which their officers may cause to be taught, or the grade of instruction that may be given, if their voters consent, in regular form, to bear the expense and raise the taxes for the purpose.” The principle involved was applied long before this decision however. As early as 1798 Connecticut authorized the opening of higher schools by the local authorities (“school societies”). In Massachusetts the law requiring grammar schools in the towns was so far weakened, in 1824, that towns having a population of less than 5,000 were allowed to substitute therefor an elementary school. But three years later, 1827, it was enacted that every town having 500 families should provide a master to give instruction in the history of the United States, bookkeeping, geometry, surveying and algebra; and every town having 4,000 inhabitants a master capable of giving instruction in Latin and Greek, history, rhetoric and logic. Due to the strong entrenchment of the “district system,” this law was modified and even weakened many times prior to the Civil War; but in the revision of 1859 all of the essential provisions were re-enacted and even bettered. Iowa adopted a provision in 1849 expressly permitting the aiding of higher grades to the public schools; and in 1858 authorized the establishment of county high schools. In New York, systematic grading of schools went steadily forward; and the “academic departments” of these schools corresponding to the high schools of other States, formed a part of the University of the State of New York and received financial aid from the literature fund. In Maryland the county academies, which had displaced the grammar schools of colonial days, continued for many years to receive financial aid from the State. Prior to the Civil War, therefore, all later types of State interest in secondary schools of a public character were at least represented: the “permissive” type; the obligatory type; and the type in which a complete and well-rounded system was sought.


1. Statistics of Growth. — From the Civil War to 1890 data upon this point are very incomplete and inaccurate. The United States Bureau of Education, formally established in 1866, almost immediately began to collect statistics regarding secondary institutions. Difficulties were at once met in classifying such institutions and in getting reports from them. Work of secondary character was done in schools bearing all sorts of titles: academies, high schools, seminaries, female seminaries, institutes, grammar schools, preparatory schools, colleges, universities, schools of science and normal schools. It was well into the eighties before the public high schools began to rival their competitors in numbers of students. Since 1890 the growth in such schools as well as in the number of students enrolled in them has been phenomenal. The following table is compiled from the report of the United States Commissioner of Education for the year 1914:

Year Public Private
 Schools   Teachers   Students   Schools   Teachers   Students 
1889-90. 2,526  9,120  202,963  1,632  7,209  94,931 
1894-95. 4,712  14,122  350,099  2,180  8,559  118,347 
1899-1900. 6,005  20,372  519,251  1,978  10,117  110,797 
1904-05. 7,576  28,461  679,702  1,627  9,850  107,207 
1909-10. 10,213  41,667  915,061  1,781  11,146  117,400 
1913-14. 11,515  57,909  1,218,804  2,199  13,890  154,857 

The tremendous growth shown has been the result of a large number of factors. In the first place, social changes of great significance have been taking place since the Civil War period. A number of these changes peculiarly important in their bearings upon secondary education need but be mentioned: the rapid increase of population containing a large percentage more or less unacquainted with our political conditions; the growth of science with resultant discoveries and inventions; and, largely in consequence of these, the multiplication of industries and vocational opportunities requiring special training. Along with these, the increase in wealth, both public and private, the growth of cities, the systematization of business and the opportunities afforded for leisure have produced far-reaching results upon secondary and higher education. In the second place, education as a Study has taken a place among the sciences. In this development secondary education has received attention, especially in the field of adolescent physiology and psychology. G. Stanley Hall's notable work on ‘Adolescence’ (q.v.), published in 1905, started a new interest in both the kind and the extent of education which youth should receive. All of these factors are extremely complex in their bearings; and in spite of the great advances so far made, the principles ot secondary education both in their administrative and theoretical aspects constitute problems rather than fixed conclusions. Some of the most important of these problems may be reviewed.

2. The Relation of Secondary to Higher Education. — While the public high school grew up primarily to serve the students who did not plan to enter college, the new institution did not long remain uninfluenced by the demands of higher institutions. In the seventies and eighties, much discussion took place relative to the wisdom of high schools emphasizing preparation for college; but the question was soon dropped and the problem of adjusting the relation between these institutions became probably the most important question in secondary education for the ensuing three or four decades.

One of the earliest methods of adjusting this relationship, and one which remains to-day as probably the most effective, is the so-called “accrediting system.” This system was inaugurated by the University of Michigan in 1871. Under it the university admitted to its freshman class, without examination, such graduates of approved secondary schools as were especially recommended for that purpose by the principals of those schools. It depended upon a purely voluntary agreement between the secondary schools and the higher institutions, so that the school rather than the individual was examined; and the inquiry related chiefly to the vitality, intelligence and general effectiveness of the instruction. A large number of other State universities have adopted this general plan; some have developed elaborate and rigid means of inspecting the secondary schools, while others have failed to do so because of the large amount of work and expense involved. Some have relied to a large extent upon written reports; others have insisted upon first-hand inspection by a university officer. In 1914, according to the bulletin of the United States Bureau of Education on “Accredited Secondary Schools in the United States” (Bulletin, 1915, No. 7), at least 19 Stale universities relied upon lists prepared by their own authorities. A number of private universities and colleges likewise build their own lists; some examples of these are University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University, Catholic University of America and Saint John's College.

In a considerable number of cases State laws have empowered their own State departments of education to classify and standardize secondary schools. Some erect very elaborate systems of grading and employ an adequate inspection force. In 1914 New York had an inspections division under the Board of Regents consisting of a chief and 13 assistants, of whom 10 at least gave their whole time to the work. Ohio and Minnesota are other notable examples of this system, but with a less highly developed technique than New York. In many cases, State universities accept the lists of accredited secondary schools made by the State departments; such is the practice at present in at least 10 States. In some of the States the success of this system has been made possible through co-operation with the General Education Board of New York city. These State lists have served other accrediting boards throughout the country and have exerted a powerful influence toward raising standards within the States preparing them.

A third series of agencies influential in developing the accrediting system may be found in a number of associations formed in different sections of the country and made up of representatives from both secondary schools and higher institutions. These grew up primarily to bring these representatives together for the purpose of discussing common problems; and while retaining the original purpose, they have added the work of preparing lists of accredited secondary schools for the use of the institutions represented. The parent society of this sort is the New England Association of College and Preparatory (now Secondary) Schools organized at Boston in 1885. This organization prompted the establishment of The New England College Entrance Certificate Board in 1902. This is now made up of representatives from all the leading colleges and universities of New England and has a list containing the names of more than 400 accredited secondary schools. The Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools of the Middle States and Maryland came into existence in 1892. Out of this grew the College Entrance Examination Board in 1900. While this board relies for the most part on the examination of the individual student, its influence upon the relation between secondary and higher education is essentially the same as that of the accrediting system. The North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools was formed at Evanston, Ill., in 1895; and The Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools of the Southern States at Atlanta, Ga., in the same year. Both of these associations have extensive lists of accredited schools.

The criteria used by these different accrediting bodies differed widely in the demands they made upon secondary schools, and they still continue to do so. For example, at the present time the College Entrance Examination Board recognizes but 11 subjects as permissible in a standard high school course while the University of Minnesota recognizes 22. Some means of securing uniformity, therefore, became a significant problem; and this problem remains as vital to-day as it was in 1890. Inasmuch as no mechanical adjustment between secondary schools and colleges can settle this problem, the important attacks that have been made upon it have attempted to go to the bottom of the educational questions involved in order to get a basis for determining the details of relationship.

The first and one of the very most significant attempts at solution was made by the Committee on Secondary School Studies, appointed by the National Education Association in 1892 and known as “Committee of Ten.” Nine sub-committees of 10 members each were appointed to prepare reports on the several ordinary departments of secondary school instruction; namely, Latin, Greek, English, other modern languages, mathematics, physics (with astronomy and chemistry), natural history (biology, including botany, zoology and physiology), history (with civil government and political economy), geography (physical geography, geology and meteorology). The Committee of Ten, having secured carefully prepared reports from its sub-committees and having examined a large number of the courses in actual use in secondary schools, drew up a report which was published by the United States government in December 1893, together with the reports of the several sub-committees. Great stress was laid on the correlation of studies in secondary schools, the unifying of many subjects into a well-knit course of instruction, through the recognition of their numerous inter-relations. The committee would have continuous instruction in the four main lines of language, mathematics, history and natural science. In particular they recommended that in the first two years of a four-year course each student should enter all of the principal fields of knowledge, in order that he may fairly “exhibit his quality and discover his tastes”; and urge the postponement of the beginning of Greek to the third year, in order that the student may not find himself at the bifurcation of the course into classical and Latin-scientific courses before he is ready, or his advisers sufficiently informed as to his capabilities, to make an intelligent choice. The committee would require in each course a maximum of 20 recitation periods a week; but they would have five of these periods devoted to unprepared work; and would reserve double periods for laboratory exercises whenever possible. With reference to requirements for admission to college, the committee recommend “that the colleges and scientific schools of the country should accept for admission to appropriate courses of their instruction the attainments of any youth who has passed creditably through a good secondary school course, no matter to what group of subjects he may have mainly devoted himself in the secondary schools.” “A good secondary school course” they describe as consisting of any group of studies from those considered by the sub-committees, “provided that the sum of the studies in each of the four years amounts to 16, or 18, or 20 periods a week, — as may be thought best, — and provided, further, that in each year at least four of the subjects presented shall have been pursued at least three periods a week, and that at least three of the subjects shall have been pursued three years or more.”

The next attempt at an adjustment of the relations of secondary schools and colleges, to the educational advantages of both, is contained in the report of the Committee on College Entrance Requirements, appointed in 1895 by the National Educational Association and consisting of 14 members, representing the high schools and universities of different sections of the country, under the chairmanship of the superintendent of high schools of the city of Chicago. The first important service rendered by the committee was the preparation and publication of a table showing the actual entrance requirements of 67 representative colleges, universities and higher technical schools in the United States. The committee's final report, presented at the meeting of the National Educational Association in July 1899, is mainly devoted to the attempt to establish “national units, or norms,” in the several subjects taught in the secondary schools as preparatory to the college course. The fundamental problem “is to formulate courses of study in each of the several subjects of the curriculum which shall be substantially equal in value, the measure of value being both quantity and quality of work done.” In the determination of these norms the committee received assistance from several bodies of expert scholars in the several branches of instruction. The supplemental papers received from these bodies are published in connection with the committee's report. The committee adopted 14 resolutions, of which the following are of the greatest general significance:

1. That the principle of election be recognized in secondary schools.

4. That we favor a unified six-year high school course of study, beginning with the seventh grade.

6. That while the committee recognizes as suitable for recommendation by the colleges for admission the several studies enumerated in this report, and while it also recognizes the principle of large liberty to the students in secondary schools, it does not believe in unlimited election, but especially emphasizes the importance of a certain number of constants in all secondary schools and in all requirements for admission to college.

12. That we recommend that any piece of work comprehended within the studies included in this report that has covered at least one year of four periods a week in a well-equipped secondary school, under competent instruction, should be considered worthy to count toward admission to college.

In more recent times a number of attempts have been made to solve the problem of the relation between secondary and higher institutions. One of these has accomplished considerable good on the side of the mechanical aspects involved in the adjustment; namely, the National Conference Committee on Standards of Colleges and Secondary Schools, formed in 1906. This committee is composed of representatives from the accrediting associations mentioned earlier in this section, together with representatives from the National Association of State Universities, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the United States Bureau of Education. This committee has defined the “unit” for purposes of accrediting as follows: “A unit represents a year's study in any subject in a secondary school, constituting approximately a quarter of a full year's work. This statement is designed to afford a standard of measurement for the work done in secondary schools. It takes (1) the four-year high school course as a basis, and assumes that (2) the length of the school year is from 36 to 40 weeks; that (3) a period is from 40 to 60 minutes in length; and that (4) the study is pursued four or five periods a week; but under ordinary circumstances a satisfactory year's work in any subject cannot be accomplished in less than 120 60-minute hours, or their equivalent.”

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching gave very serious consideration to the question of the relation of high school to college in the annual reports of 1910, 1911 and 1912. These reports make rather severe attacks upon certain practices in both the high school and the college. The former is criticized for superficial work — the covering of too many subjects with thoroughness in none. The college is criticized for insisting upon too rigid prescriptions in traditional subjects for admission; they ignore changing social conditions. The burden of solving the problem is placed primarily upon the higher institutions: they must insist upon solid four-year high school courses, but must permit a wider range in the subject-matter in them.

The National Education Association has been giving renewed attention to the problem in the past five years. In 1910 the Committee of Nine on the Articulation of High School and College was appointed. The report was presented to and adopted by the Secondary Education Department of the Association the following year. In basic principles this report is in sympathy with the position of the Carnegie Foundation. Adopting the “unit” set by the National Conference Committee on Standards of Colleges and Secondary Schools, it recommends the following standard high school course: Nine specified units; three of English, two of one foreign language, two of mathematics, one of social science, including history, and one of natural science; two additional academic units, and four units left as a margin for whatever work best meets the need of the individual. A much more radical and fundamental solution of the question has been under consideration for the past four years by a committee of the National Education Association known as the Committee on Economy of Time in Education. A report of this committee was published by the United States Bureau of Education in 1913 and remains essentially unchanged as it is being discussed to-day. So far as the question here at issue is concerned, the following of its recommendations are most significant: The elementary school should take the child from 6 to 12; the high school period should be from 12 to 18 or 12 to 16, and the college period from 18 to 20 or 16 to 20, “The proposition,” says the report, “to make the high school period 12-18 or 12-16 and the college period 18-20 or 16-20 will adjust itself in the following ways: (1) It begins high school work at the proper time and continues it to the recognized age of college admission or of beginning life (12-18); (2) it provides for a large number who will enter vocations at 16 and adjusts itself to the idea of an intermediate industrial school (12-16); (3) it provides for the contingency that the college course in the reorganized scheme will end with the sophomore year and that the two years of college may be done in the university or in the larger high schools, and that the independent colleges may make a four-year course (16-20), admitting from the smaller high schools at 16.”

3. Relation of the High School Course to Social Conditions and to the Needs of the Student. — In spite of the so-called “domination” of the college over the high school, the latter institution has at no time in its history suppressed its original ideal of serving the youth of all classes. The lack of an energetic response on the part of the high school to changing social demands has been due in part to a basic principle of social psychology; namely, custom. The Renaissance ideal of a liberal education was the ideal of secondary education everywhere. It was well into the last half of the 19th century before the modern social view of education affected practice to any significant extent. Certain important changes in the course of study responding to this view have been made; many others are in the process of adoption.

One of the earlier movements of this character was the manual training movement, inaugurated by the foreign exhibits at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. The first manual training high school established in the United States was that opened in 1880 in connection with Washington University at Saint Louis. In 1884 the Commercial Club of Chicago established the first private independent manual training high school in the country; the first public high school of this character was opened the same year at Baltimore. By 1890 at least 36 cities had such high schools; and by 1905 at least 63 cities had followed the example. Besides these, many academic courses had included the subject. In these schools and courses the idea of manual training for the purpose of general culture was usually uppermost, their projectors disclaiming any intention of establishing schools for the teaching of trades. At present there is a tendency to view the subject from the social and practical standpoint rather than from the disciplinary.

The commercial branches had their first appearance in secondary school courses very early in the form of bookkeeping and commercial arithmetic. In the second quarter of the last century, private business schools began to flourish; and during the period from 1850 to 1890 they multiplied rapidly and furnished practically all of the training demanded for purely clerical positions. The first Commercial High School, now in existence, was established by the city of Pittsburgh in 1872; the next was the Business High School of Washington, D. C., established in 1890; Los Angeles, Cal., came third in 1895. Other large cities followed: Louisville, Ky.; San Francisco, Cal.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Syracuse, Brooklyn and New York City. Commercial courses were multiplied in academic high schools, and private business colleges waned in popularity for a time. In 1914 the United States Bureau of Education reported 2,914 public and private high schools offering commercial courses to 178,707 students. Very recently criticism has begun to the effect that commercial courses in public high schools do not after all really fit students for business; they approach their work from a point of view too academic. Some of the better commercial high schools are attempting to overcome this weakness by articulating the courses directly with commercial life; Boston and Cleveland furnish good examples of this tendency.

Preparation for agricultural pursuits through the high school began about 20 years ago, when Alabama established a school of this character in each of the nine congressional districts of the State. Five years later Wisconsin instituted its system of county schools of agriculture and domestic economy. This movement has gone steadily forward, and there are now at least 1,677 high schools, either public or private, giving courses in agriculture to 34,367 students.

At present there is no more important problem facing secondary school administration than that relative to the extension of vocational work in the high schools. States, cities and even the National government are taking an active interest in the question. Some States are encouraging the establishment of such courses by means of appropriations; many of the larger cities have already established them and are making elaborate vocational surveys looking toward their extension; and the question of Federal support to the movement in smaller places is being discussed. This whole movement centers for the most part in the secondary school period; and in this country the fixing of this period between the ages of 14 and 18 and the almost universal provision for it of a type of education essentially liberal in character cause the movement to be attended with tremendous difficulties which bid fair to produce far-reaching and fundamental reorganization within the whole secondary system. Significant steps in this reorganization have already been ventured. One of these may be found in the newer type of technical or vocational high schools. In these the older kinds of manual training work have been given a distinctly new turn toward the practical; trade courses of a high order have been added; and the academic subjects retained have in large part been treated from the standpoint of their bearing upon the practical work. Notable examples are the Albert G. Lane Technical High School of Chicago, opened in 1908; the Technical High School of Cleveland, opened in the same year; the Technical High School of Newton, Mass., opened in 1909, and the High School of Practical Arts for Girls, opened in Boston in 1907. A second type of readjustment, which has received at least a trial, is the so-called “Part-Time Cooperative Plan,” well illustrated in the High School at Fitchburg, Mass. In 1908 a number of manufacturers together with the school authorities agreed upon the establishment of a combined shop and school course four years in length. During the first year the student spends his whole time in the school; for the next three years, he alternates weekly between shop and school, getting pay for the time he spends in the former. By this method the student gets actual shop training under shop conditions and secures a type of school work bearing directly upon the problems to be faced later in the calling. The Continuation School, so prominent in Germany, seems to offer a third type of desirable reorganization suitable to the needs of this country. Under this plan the employers permit their employees to attend vocational courses from four to six hours a week without loss of pay. Cincinnati began a high school course of this character in 1909. A fourth form of readjustment seems destined to give prominence to a kind of secondary school which is at total variance with the traditional ideals; namely, the Trade School. Such schools take boys and girls 16 years of age or over and, with little regard to their previous training, aim to provide them with skill in a particular trade. Examples are the Manhattan Trade School for Girls in New York City; the Philadelphia Trades School; the Milwaukee Trade School for Boys and a like one for girls, and the Worcester Trade School in Massachusetts.

Another form of adjusting the relation between secondary education and vocational life is so significant that it deserves special mention. For a long time it has been a question among educators whether our secondary school period did not begin too late; evidences of this feeling have been mentioned in connection with the discussion relative to the articulation of high school and college, notably the report of the Committee on Economy of Time in Education. In more recent times, studies in retardation and elimination have brought the question distinctly to the foreground. If boys and girls who need it most are to get any school training at all which is directly correlated with the demands later to be made upon them, they must begin before the close of the elementary school period as it now exists. To meet this situation, what is known as “prevocational work” has been established in the seventh and eighth grades. In some schools a ninth grade has been instituted and shares in this kind of work. At present there is a strong movement toward giving these grades, in whole or in part, a distinctive organization and name. So far as the titles are concerned, two are struggling for distinction, “The Intermediate School” and the “Junior High School.” According to Briggs's treatment of the movement in the report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 1914, at least 193 cities have effected an organization of the upper grades in some ways corresponding to the ideas contemplated in the movement. By many it is hoped that the next step in the movement will be the general adoption of a junior high school, taking the student from 12 to 15, to be followed by a senior high school carrying the work on to the 18th year. By this organization the differentiated courses of the one school would be directly articulated with those of the other. Just what this differentiation shall be is now under discussion; four types of courses are already prominent: the academic, the commercial, the household arts for girls and the industrial arts for boys.

Numerous as the difficulties of mechanical adjustment are in this whole movement for vocational training, they by no means exhaust the problems. The internal make-up of the courses is hard to effect, due to the lack of texts and to the lack of first-hand knowledge regarding the demands of the numerous callings; teachers who combine teaching ability with wide vocational experience are rare; and the relative amounts of attention to give to theory and to practice are very difficult to determine. Experience in the field has led to an increasing number of new needs and possibilities. The Vocational Guidance movement may be cited as one of the most significant. For the student to decide upon a calling he needs to have a rather wide knowledge about the demands of numerous vocations as well as a knowledge of his own capabilities and tastes. His location in a proper position, too, requires caution and direction. The course of study must provide for the first and a capable director is needed for guidance in the latter two. A few cities have made great advance already in attacking the question; the best known of these are Boston, Mass., and Grand Rapids, Mich. The vocation bureau of the former city was established in 1908 by Mrs. Quincy A. Shaw under plans worked out by the late Dr. Frank Parsons. Meyer Bloomfield, the present director, has extended the work greatly and has described the results and problems in his ‘Youth, School and Vocation.’ The developments in Grand Rapids have been largely due to the work of the principal of the high school, Jesse B. Davis, whose book on ‘Vocational and Moral Guidance’ is exceptionally strong on the side of the educational aspects of the question.

The traditional secondary school course has not remained uninfluenced by the social and vocational movements in education; the course of study is receiving severe attacks from many quarters. The older problem of articulating high school and college is being supplanted by the problem of adjusting courses of study to the needs of individual students and to social and civic life. The conception of liberal education is undergoing change; and in partial response to it, the “general course” is appearing among the parallel groups. Certain new studies have begun to appear, likewise, such as “general science,” “community civics,” art, history of art and music appreciation. Two very significant criticisms of the high school course have been issued recently by the General Education Board of New York city: one prepared by Charles W. Eliot, entitled ‘Changes Needed in American Secondary Education,’ and the other by Abraham Flexner, entitled ‘A Modern School.’ The former would, aside from the introduction of vocational subjects, have more emphasis placed upon sense training through the sciences and drawing and more time for music. The latter article would have four fields represented in the curriculum — science, industry, æsthetics and civics; and within some of the subjects, radical reforms are contemplated in the way of bringing them into more direct bearing upon cultural and social life. Such reforms are proposed in particular for mathematics, ancient history and the modern languages; grammar, Latin and Greek would be eliminated entirely.

4. Problems in Method and Management. — The great changes in the aim and course of study have been accompanied by changes equally significant in method and management. The laboratory method which came with the introduction of the sciences, needs but mere mention. Means for vitalizing these subjects, as well as of others, have multiplied greatly: pictures, charts, diagrams, museums, models, and moving picture appliances are examples. For the past 10 years New York State has appropriated annually $20,000 for visual aids to instruction. The numerous criticisms of the results obtained in modern language instruction have led to the partial adoption of the “Direct Method” in these branches. Dissatisfaction with results in English have led to an interest in the "Co-operation Plan," whereby all of the teachers in a given school submit part of their written work to the English teachers. Analytic and drill methods in history and literature are felt to be overdone and the so-called “Appreciation Lesson” is receiving a place in the newer books on high school method. Wider reading, fewer technical questions, dramatic presentation and more flexibility in general are required in this type of recitation. The learner, finally, is coming to be looked upon as a more important item in discussions of method than the teacher, and “teaching the pupil how to study” has come to be one of the newer efforts in the high school. A part of this involves library instruction or how to use books. All of these advances in method are virtually attempts to avoid a part of the cramming procedure which grew up while college entrance was looked upon as the chief purpose of the high school.

Changes quite as important are taking place in the field of management. The rapid growth of high schools has resulted in the bringing together of a large number of students in a single school; and athletic associations, dramatic societies, debating teams, fraternities, and all kinds of clubs have grown up. Both the social and educational philosophy of the past two or three decades have pointed to the “Self-government” scheme as the wisest solution of most of the questions of control involved. In New York city, a “General Organization” has been effected to which a large number of the high schools of the city have subscribed. Each student in a given school, upon payment of twenty-five cents, becomes a member of this organization as effected in his own school. Such student members then adopt a constitution and a set of by-laws which govern all the societies and clubs of the school. In some high schools, school savings banks are instituted and placed under the management of students. Cooperation with the home, with the authorities of the local government, and with other associations or societies in the community may be cited as added evidences of the ideal to bring the high school into close connection with all the better forces in society.

5. The Preparation of Secondary School Teachers. — A committee of the National Education Association — the so-called Committee of Fifteen on elementary education — reported in 1895, among other topics, on the training of teachers for secondary schools. The committee declared that, “The degree of scholarship required for secondary teachers is by common consent fixed at a collegiate education.” They proposed a course of special training for such teachers, consisting of instruction during the senior year of the college course in psychology, methodology, school systems and the history, philosophy and art of education; and a graduate year of practice in teaching, under close supervision, supplemented by advanced studies in educational theory. That this proposal is far in advance of common practice or requirement no one acquainted with general conditions can doubt. To just what extent States and cities are tending in the direction of this early proposal — which still remains the ideal — can be determined only through a study of the widely varying and detailed laws and regulations now in force. Some of the larger cities closely approximate these ideals with the exception of the graduate study requirements; and the latter are often rewarded though not required. The very general “experience” requirement in large cities makes practice teaching unnecessary. One State — California — has very nearly met all of the requirements set forth in the proposals of 1895; a college degree from a recognized institution, graduate study both academic and professional amounting to one year or its equivalent, and practice teaching in the absence of experience are demanded. The State Board of Education is empowered by law to fix the details of certification regulations. In a considerable number of States, professional study of an undergraduate character is required of applicants qualifying under certain conditions. In general, the teaching force in the smaller high schools is not specifically prepared for the work it has to do. In New York State in 1914 very nearly one-half of all the high school teachers in the towns (as opposed to the cities) were holding normal school diploma licenses. In most sections of the country a strong tendency exists to employ only college graduates for high school teachers; but definite and serious study in the pedagogy of secondary training appears very rarely as a requirement either through custom or law. What pedagogy that is required is usually of the general kind. About 50 per cent of the high school teachers of Vermont in 1914 had not even had this. The State Commissioner of Education for Massachusetts in the report of 1912-13 complains that while most of the high school teachers of the state are college graduates and that while many have taken pedagogical courses in such institutions, they “are, in relation to the work they are expected to do, deficient in professional training” and “approach their work as learners, as apprentices, to whom practical means and methods of effectively teaching boys and girls are as yet almost wholly unknown.” Definitely planned systems for the training of secondary teachers do not exist in this country. Aside from the State College for Teachers at Albany, N. Y., which makes the preparation of high school teachers its main purpose, and several specific courses in other normal schools of the country looking in the same direction, the only means generally prevalent is that of the college and university departments of education, of which there are now some 350 of recognized standing. These, however, emphasize for the most part the general courses in education; secondary method in some of the branches taught in the high school receive attention, but usually from the professors in these subjects in the college; and few have well-organized practice teaching. Other means in the improvement of secondary teachers are summer school courses, reading circles, teachers' associations, teachers' meetings within a given school, travel bureaus, sabbatical years, and the like; but these must be considered only a very small part of the solution to the larger problem to be faced in the systematic professional training of instructors for high schools.

6. Tendencies in the Organization of State Systems of Secondary Education. — Nothing closesly approximating the highly centralized system of French and German secondary education exists in this country. While the State is the legal unit of educational administration in this country, powers with reference to detail in organization are usually delegated to State boards of education, cities, counties, or even smaller units. The real test of the centralizing tendency in this country, therefore, resides in the extent to which the State, either by law directly or indirectly by delegation to the State Board of Education, takes a hand in the vital detail of organization in schools. The application of this test to current practice shows results of a widely varying character so far at secondary education is concerned. A large number of the States provide for inspection of schools of this kind through an officer usually called “high school inspector”; in a few States deputy commissioners of education are appointed and assigned to secondary schools; in some cases, inspection is little more than a formality, while in others it is very careful and results in approved lists of schools that are accepted by the State universities; some half-dozen States employ systems of classifying high schools into grades and set minimal course requirements for each; in very few instances, are actual courses of study directly controlled by State boards. The laws relative to the establishment of high schools are in most of the States “permissive” in character; and while State aid is quite general for schools in rural districts, it is usually small in amount and cautiously guarded. Complete State certification of secondary teachers seldom exists. Large cities constitute a class by themselves, and central control is almost unknown to them. Neither uniformity nor the centralized systems of Europe would necessarily mean efficiency in America. What is most needed are State boards of education, free from political influence, composed of men with large views and expert knowledge, and devoting themselves to vital questions of policy and vital questions of organization too large for the local administrative units.

A number of States began early to take certain steps toward efficient control, and recent times have added to the number; three or four among these may be mentioned. Massachusetts has already been discussed; the compulsory establishment of high schools, State aid to the poorer districts, and minimum course requirements of earlier years have persisted; and new extensions have been made in the way of State certification of teachers in the State-aided schools, State support for vocational education and inspection. Minnesota began a State system in 1881, headed by a State high school board which still exists and exercises such powers as approving courses of study, inspecting all high schools once a year, and determining what institutions shall receive aid. California and New Jersey have made notable advances in methods of certifying teachers and prescribing requirements for the same. New York, however, represents the most complete State system of control yet developed in this country. This system has been described in part already. Under it, all incorporated secondary schools are controlled by a Board of Regents serving as members of the University of the State of New York. This board manages the State funds to be distributed to secondary schools. Such funds, amounting to nearly $60,000 as early as 1832, have been added to by the legislature until in 1913 the total sum contributed to secondary schools was $650,000. Approximately $140,000 of this was given for books and apparatus and $322,398 for the payment of non-resident tuition, the remainder being apportioned on the basis of attendance of academic pupils. The Board also prescribes rules for awarding the State scholarships of $100 each to graduates of high schools to aid them in pursuing college work. Ultimately there will be 3,000 of such scholarships; in 1914 awards were made to 750 secondary school graduates. A large force of inspectors, assigned mostly according to branches of study, exercises supervision of instruction; and an assistant commissioner of secondary education devotes his whole time to this branch of education. For the purpose of instituting a uniform basis for the apportionment of the so-called “literature fund,” the Regents adopted in 1864 a system of examinations of elementary pupils. In 1878, this system was extended to the academic branches; and in 1913, such examinations were held in 889 schools, with 404,576 papers written, of which 288,194 were accepted. These papers were first graded at the schools and then regraded under direction of the Regents at Albany. A special examination board under control of the Regents now prepares the questions. Each school falling under control of this central Board of Regents must report yearly to it and gets a rating in the annual report. By these four means — apportionment, examinations, inspection and reports —the Board of Regents exercises most of its far-reaching control over the secondary schools of the State.

Elmer Elsworth Brown,
Chancellor of New York University.