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“Inequalities of Children in Original Endowment”: How Intelligence Testing Transformed Early Special Education in a North American City School System

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Jason Ellis*
Affiliation:
Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Studies, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada; e-mail: j.ellis@ubc.ca; http://edst.educ.ubc.ca/

Extract

“There are few if any more significant events in modern educational history than the developments which have recently taken place in methods of mental measurement,” Lewis Terman wrote in 1923 about the intelligence testing movement he did so much to pioneer in American schools throughout the 1920s. Indeed educational historians, particularly Paul Chapman, have shown that the rise of intelligence testing provoked large and relatively swift changes in public education, enabling school systems to sort and stream their students by ability on an unprecedented scale. “By 1930,” Chapman writes, “both intelligence testing and ability grouping had become central features of the educational system.” Less often talked about are the effects of intelligence testing and the concept of intelligence quotient (IQ) on early special education classes, and on the pupils who attended them. In fact, Terman recognized the significance of IQ testing to special education as well. In 1919, he wrote that IQ tests would help to turn the existing logic of learning problems on its head by proving that “the retardation problem is exactly the reverse of what it is popularly supposed to be.”

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 History of Education Society 

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References

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52 Clarke, Eric, “Survey of the Toronto Public Schools,” 184.Google Scholar

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55 Ibid.Google Scholar

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73 TDSBA. “Hester How PS” Office Record Card (hereafter, O.R.C.) A-D, Drawer, Admission-Discharge-Promotion card (hereafter, A.D.P.) A-L., DrawerJohnnie, H.’ O.R.C., A.D.P.; “Hester How PS” J-M, O.R.C. Drawer, “Hester How PS” A-L., A.D.P. DrawerJohnnie, H.’ O.R.C., A.D.P. ‘Gerry, G.'Google Scholar

74 See TDBSA. “Hester How PS” A.D.P. Drawers A-L, M-Z, 1923–24 and “Hester How PS,” A-D, O.R.C. Drawers, E-I, J-M, Mc-Si, Sh-Z. I have partial records only (not including IQ test results) for another sixty-seven pupils who attended auxiliary class at Hester How PS. Toronto public schools used two types of student record cards in this period. Only the more detailed Admission-Discharge-Promotion (ADP) cards contain IQ test results. Office record cards (O.R.C.), which include more demographic information but do not contain IQ test results, are more likely to have survived in the archives than ADP cards. “Psychological Examination Reports,” describing the testing moment, are appended to some children's student records. But by no means do I have Psychological Examination Reports for all the students whose IQ scores I know from their ADP cards. On my choice of Hester How PS for this study, see note 11 above. See also, Ellis, “Backward and Brilliant Children,” 32–36.Google Scholar

75 TDSBA. “Hester How PS” A-D, O.R.C. Drawer, A-L., A.D.P. DrawerGeorge, W.’ O.R.C., A.D.P. Some Toronto schools also had special “foreign classes” for recent immigrants who were learning English. Ellis, “Backward and Brilliant Children,” 15. It is not clear why George W. attended the auxiliary class and not the foreign class, although it is possible there was no foreign class at Hester How PS in 1922.Google Scholar

76 George's, record card states the reason he was admitted to the auxiliary class. Most other students’ records do not.Google Scholar

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80 Franklin, , From ‘Backwardness’ to ‘At-Risk', 43–46 and Franklin, , “Progressivism and Curriculum Differentiation,” 586–90. Joseph Tropea makes a somewhat similar argument explaining the pupil selection process for—indeed the purposes of—special classes in America's urban schools in the first half of the twentieth century. Tropea argues that while outwardly school authorities may have offered different justifications for special education (including “scientific,” IQ-based justifications), these justifications disguised the “backstage rules,” or true purposes to which school authorities and teachers adapted special education: to manage and control populations of unruly and difficult to teach students in a period of new compulsory attendance rules and rising and diversifying school enrollments. Tropea, , “Bureaucratic Order and Special Children,” 37–38. Tropea's social control argument, in my view, is less convincing than Franklin's argument about the purposes of special classes at Lee Street. Tropea seems to infer motives and he lacks the sort of placement evidence from individual cases that supports Franklin's claims.Google Scholar

81 Ryan, , “From Child Study to Efficiency,” 343–51.Google Scholar

82 Ibid, 346–53.Google Scholar

83 TDSBA. “Hester How PS” Mc-Si, O.R.C. Drawer, M-Z., A.D.P. DrawerDavid, P.’ O.R.C., A.D.P.Google Scholar

84 TDSBA. “Hester How PS” A-D, O.R.C. Drawer, A-L., A.D.P. DrawerEmily, L.’ O.R.C., A.D.P.Google Scholar

85 TDSBA. “Hester How PS” Sh-Z, O.R.C. Drawer, M-Z., A.D.P. DrawerLizzie, W.’ O.R.C., A.D.P.Google Scholar

86 TDSBA. “Hester How PS” Sh-Z, O.R.C. Drawer, M-Z., A.D.P. DrawerMinnie, T.’ O.R.C., A.D.P.Google Scholar

87 TDSBA. “Duke of York PS” O.R.C. TDSB 2003–1307, Box 1, A.D.P. TDSB 2003–0835. ‘Fred V.’ O.R.C., A.D.P.Google Scholar

88 Jones, Kathleen, Taming the Troublesome Child: American Families, Child Guidance, and the Limits of Psychiatric Authority (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 686–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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90 TDSBA. “Hester How PS,” A-D, O.R.C. Drawer, A-L, A.D.P. Drawer, ‘Katie, L.’ O.R.C., A.D.P.Google Scholar

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