Educational efficiency : a study of the work of the Austin public white schools




Jennings, Elzy Dee

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Unlike most of the school inquiries, this one is made not so much in the interest of local improvement as of furnishing tentative plans and data by which other schools may compare themselves with each other and also measure their own efficiency. Nor is it wished to appear indifferent to the needs of the local situation, yet it is believed that in holding in mind the larger duty, Austin may be no less benefitted by the study. ... Before discussing more definitely the purpose of the study it seems that a statement of conditions should be made. The cities of the South, and especially of Texas, have been slow to realize the truth of the much quoted phrase of Lamar, "Cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy." And though they have done a great deal more proportionately for their children than have the rural sections, yet their schools appear to be far inferior to those of their neighbors of the North and East, and still farther below the standard needs of the present day. Now it is hoped that this study will be able to suggest some methods of comparison that may be worked out and used by administrators from year to year in determining the efficiency of their systems in the annual output of properly equipped young life. This would give the public a chance to know the curve of success of their institutions, serve to increase their interest in the schools and to make more substantial their support. Comparison stimulates school conscience, and that is one of our very greatest needs. Then in the second place, this apathy on the part of the public for its schools has served as a narcotic for the teaching force. Having been accustomed to the "professional freedom" of teaching their own way, regardless of results, and unmolested in their positions until popular disapproval removes them for worthy or unworthy causes, teachers become formal in their work, and waste time on "hobbies" that are useless to the children, so that if any progress at all is made, it must be "deadheaded" through by energetic supervision. It is the purpose of this study to suggest score-cards by which the work of one teacher, grade, or school, may be compared with that of another and finally with the standard. Just as comparison is wholesome for the public in regard to the system as a unit, it is effective with teachers when their individual work is similarly judged. Of course, superintendents and principals have their duty of supervision, but aside from the effectiveness of personal supervision, there is still a need for some uniform and more impersonal check of the teacher's work. This need the score-card and the scientific test seek to supply, and especially by eliminating the bad features of the examination system