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Rappel, Joseph J. / A centennial history of the Manitowoc County school districts and its public school system, 1848-1948
([1948])

Diploma examinations, graduation, and testing programs,   pp. 11-12 PDF (1.0 MB)


Page 11


DIPLOMA EXAMINATIONS, GRADUATION, AND TESTING PROGRAMS
     Manitowoc county boys and girls attended the first pioneer schools when
con-
 venient. The short, irregular school terms, the poorly qualified teachers
in many in-
 stances, and the very irregular school attendance of school age children
were factors
 which made completing the course of study set up almost an impossibility.
The bright
 young man or woman who completed the "standards" set by the teachers
was advised
 to write the teacher's examination. If successful in the examination, he
or she taught
 school. If not successful, he or she would often return to the district
school during
 the winter term for more "larnin".
     The first diploma examination was held the last Friday anid Saturday
of March,
 1886. The examination was conducted at Two Rivers and Cato and was in charge
of
 County Supt. John Nagle. A total of 35 county pupils took the test, but
only seven of
 the applicants passed." The first eighth grade graduates in 1886 were
David Fitzgerald,
 Alice Carey, Kate A. Hayes, Otto Guidinger, Frank Vraney, Timothy McKeough,
 Charles G. Stangel. The diploma issued to them was a common school diploma
which
 entitled the holder to enter high school. Entrance to high school was possible
without
 an eighth grade diploma at that time though. Prof. C. G. Stangel reported
that the
 diploma examinations were given at the same time and place as the spring
teachers'
 examinations were. The subjects in which the eighth graders were tested
were or-
 thoepy, grammar, U. S. history, arithmetic, geography, spelling, writing,
constitution,
 reading, and physiology. The test was dictated very rapidly by Supt. Nagle.
The
 applicant was held responsible for both oral and written work. The written
part of
 the test was of essay type.
    Diploma examinations were held every year after 1886. By 1890, printed
tests
formulated by the county superintendent of schools were administered. Copies
of
these tests are on file in the vault of the county office. A system of preliminary
ex-
aminations given about six weeks before the regular diploma examination was
begun
about 1900. These preliminary tests were made by the superintendent, printed,
and
distributed in sealed envelopes to the teachers. These sealed envelopes were
not to be
opened until the day set for the preliminary examinations. This preliminary
test was
given to indicate to the teacher and her pupils the scope and character of
the material
to be expected in the regular examination.
    During the early 1890's, three grades of diplomas were issued, namely
first, sec-
ond, and third grades. The first grade diploma required an average of 85
and a mini-
mum of 70 in any branch; the second grade diploma required an average of
75, with
a minimum of 60; while the third grade required an average of 75 and a minimum
of
50. In 1897, there were 13 first grade, 44 second grade, and 147 third grade
diplomas
issued. A total of 282 took the examination. No third grade diplomas were
issued
after the early 1900's, but first and second grade diplomas were issued until
1935 when
only one grade of diploma was presented to rural eighth grade graduates.
A system
of recognizing outstanding graduates was begun In 1925 by setting up Honor
Classes
made up of the upper ten per cent of the eighth grade rural graduating classes.
In
the cities a system of promotion cards is employed and no diplomas are given
until
the pupil graduates from the high school.
    The type of diploma tests have changed with the times. Essay and oral
examin-
ations were the rule until the 1920's* Educational leaders about that time
were advo-
cating short answer tests of the true-false, yes-no, multiple choice, and
one word
answer type. The Manitowoc county superintendents followed the newer trends
by
gradually changing over to the short answer type of diploma examination.
About
1940, standardized tests were advocated and so a gradual abandonment of county-
made tests was in order in favor of standardized tests tried out on thousands
of boys
and girls. By 1946, standardized tests were the rule and grade placement
instead of
standings based on 100% was inaugurated.
    The development of the diploma examination system and the resultant policy
of
having all school children complete their eighth grade education placed an
ever-grow-
ing load on the county. superintendent. He not only had to make the questions,
but
he also had to mark the hundreds of papers of the applicants for a diploma.
About
1900, the Manitowoc county superintendent appointed a board of examiners
composed
of leading teachers in the county. This examining board Conducted diploma
examina-
tions in ten or more centers throughout the county on a Friday and Saturday
in April
or May. At first these board members took the examination papers to their
homes
and corrected them during the few spare hours of the following weeks. For
two or
more successive Saturdays this Board met in the county superintendent's office
to
correct papers and to confer with that official. The papers were finally
all graded by
the middle of May at which time the names of the graduates were determined.
The
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