A Report on Vocational Training in Chicago and in Other Cities

Chapter 16: The Test in English

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The following paragraph was twice read slowly and distinctly to 89 apprentice boys, who were asked to reproduce it in their own language.

Test I

There are a great many accidents in the industrial life of to-day. Many of these accidents prove fatal. We are constructing higher buildings, cars and trains run faster, and the extensive use of machinery has greatly increased the danger. Since every year hundreds of men and women are killed or crippled, it is very important that employers guard dangerous machinery, provide fire escapes, keep the working-rooms well lighted and look after the health and safety of the workingman. On the other hand, it is extremely important that the employees learn and obey the rules which are made for their protection in factories, on trains and in other places.

The physical condition often being such as to render reading aloud undesirable, and because we hoped by the change to secure much valuable information as to the ambitions and ethical ideas of the boys, the following test was substituted which had the additional advantage of not seeming to be a set English test:

Test II

1. Why did you take up the kind of work you are now doing? Do you think it is a job in which you can advance? What makes you think so? Give your reasons fully. If you would like to do something else, tell what it is. Give your reasons fully.

2. If you were going to hire a boy to work for you, what would you want to know about him?

3. Do you think it would be right to take your own boy's wages? Why, or why not? If you do think it is right, how long would you take his wages? Give reasons.

4. A boy said: " I know ten good men who are doctors and ten bad men who are policemen. So doctors are better men than policemen." Did he prove it? Why, or why not?

5. (a) If a man is a good batter, will he be a good base runner? Why, or why not?
    (b) If all boys who are good in arithmetic are good in spelling, will all the boys who are good in spelling be good in arithmetic? Why, or why not?

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Questions four and five were incorporated for the purpose of a simple test in logic. We soon discovered that the questions were beyond the capacity of the boys to answer. Hence we graded the answers to these two questions merely on their form, making note of the fact that there were a few boys who saw their logical significance.

Methods of grading English.

1st Test

Reproduction of thought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 per cent
Form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 per cent

In form were included paragraphing, punctuation, capitalization, syntax and sentence structure. 

The spelling and handwriting were also graded and shown in separate tables.

2d Test

General intelligence revealed in answering questions. . .50 per cent
Form .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 per cent

The results of the English test

As between grades the results shows the same condition that obtains in the arithmetic. That is, the boy who leaves school in the sixth grade is at a decided disadvantage as compared with the one who remains longer in school. This is also true in spelling and writing.

The comparison between groups can not be carried out; as the Apprentice Schools did not have the same examination that was given to the night-school boys and those out of school.

The fact that the boys out of school did better on the same English test than the night-school boys (a reversal of the arithmetic results) might be explained by the fact that the per cent of foreigners was larger in the night school.

Note should be made of the almost hopeless lack of facility of sixth-grade boys, and the few below that grade whom we tested, to express themselves in writing, even when they seemed to sense what they desired to express. They would begin sentences and not complete them, leave out predicates and, in general, reveal a complete lack of ability to express a logical sequence. To illustrate this point a few papers are here appended. The papers are in answer to the

( 297) English questions, Set II, and are copied just as they were received from the boys. The grade and age of the boy is given at the top of each paper:

Sixth Grade, age sixteen

3. No you should not take the wages of the boy becose he wonse it him selve. I would take it as long as he wone to le me take it.

4. The boy said he nose ten good men at are doctors and ten bad men who are policemen.

5. sure if he kin run fast then he kin be a base ball paler.
houv are good in Arithmetic are good in spelling and all boys good in spelling are not good in Arithmetic.

Fifth Grade, age sixteen

Because i want it.
Because is simply work easily and you dirty your self up.
I ask: him how old he his if he would not old enough i would not hire him.
Because if not he spent it all.
I take his wages under 19 years of age.
Because if not he be a bum if he be about 16 years of age.
Doctors are better than policeman.
Because policemen are the biggest bums out.

Fifth Grade, age fifteen

1. Because I think I can get a good out side work.
Yes I do.
Because I now other boys that done the same work.
I would like a out side job because inside dose not agree with me.

2. I would want to now if he was smart.

Fourth Grade, age sixteen

1. " I did not work i would have nothing to eat.We do thing that a job in which you can advance what makes me thing so.

2. he is going to earn his money yeas it would be bettre

3. to take your one wages yes it is wright to take your none

4. I know if a man is a good batter will he be a good bas.

5. They will lern some trad.

Fourth Grade, age eighteen

I took this work to make a liviny.

In questions two and three which were designed to reveal the moral conceptions of the boys, the answers were rather conventional. The answers to question two (If you were going to hire a

( 298) boy to work for you what would you want to know about him?) suggested that the boys may often have filled out blanks in employment bureaus.

The answers to question three (Do you think it would be right to take your own boy's wages?) seemed more real, doubtless, because it had to do with the genuine daily experience of many of the boys. Where a boy had facility in expression the answer was often genuinely discriminative as, for instance, many said " yes " because the parents feed and clothe the boy. Some said " yes," if needed in the family, and if not needed it would yet be right to take part of the wages to be saved for the boy. They usually felt that a boy who earned should be allowed some spending money.

The following tables show the grade of advancement, the numbers, and the per cents for the different groups, also the totals for the different grades of the three groups.

Table VII -- Boys Out of School
Grade No. Per cent Eng Per cent Sp Per cent W
HS 17 86 96 83
8 78 76 78 79
7 32 63 76 74
6 12 54 68 70
5 13 22 32 41

Table VIII -- Night School
Grade No. Per cent Eng Per cent Sp Per cent W
HS - - - -
8 85 73 87 76
7 65 61 79 73
6 47 39 62 63

Table IX -- Apprentice Schools
Grade No. Per cent Eng Per cent Sp Per cent W
HS 6 78 84 83
8 46 70 81 77
7 23 51 68 69
6 14 38 61 67

Table X -- Total Average
Grade No. Per cent Eng Per cent Sp Per cent W
HS 23 82 90 83
8 209 73 82 77
7 120 58 74 72
6 73 44 64 67
5 13 22 32 41

Tables VII, VIII and IX show the grade (Gr.), the number (No.), of boys, and the per cents in English (Eng.), spelling (Sp.), and writing (W) for the three groups. The Table X shows the average per cent of the different grades of the three groups added together.


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