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In view of the important changes which have been introduced into the Harvard requirements for admission in the past few years, it is interesting to note the conclusion reached by Professors Strayer and Thorndike of Columbia, in their recent book on educational administration, as to the value of the results of entrance examinations as tests of fitness to do college work. The conclusion of the Columbia educators, that entrance examinations do not prevent incompetents for getting into college, that they may cause men of real college calibre "to became discouraged, improperly conditioned, or barred out altogether," in short, that they fail as a measure of fitness, is not startlingly surprising. but the accuracy and thoroughness of the evidence from which they reach this conviction is unusual.
Professor Throndike has analised the records of one hundred and thirty students who entered Columbia in three successive years and whose ratings in entrance tests and for the first three years of college work are complete. Of these, six received the same average entrance mark--61. In their college work, one averaged a trifle above D; one a little above C and two received A in our subjects out of five and B in the other. Again, eleven students obtained an average of 70 in their entrance tests; in their college work they averaged all the way from D to A. Of the students who were in the lower half of the group in entrance work, nearly 40 per cent are found in the upper half in the last three years of college; and of the dozen students who ranked highest at entrance, some were in the lowest fifth of the class by Junior year. "There is," says Professor Thorndike, "every reason to believe that of those students who did yet worse in their entrance examinations, and so were shut out, a fairly large percentage would have done better in college than a third of those who were admitted." It is a "moral attrocity," he believes, to depend upon such a fallible system.
Formal examinations, as tests of fitness for every kind of work, which disregard utterly the personal equation, are being disproved, modified, and abandoned all along the line. As regards testing fitness to do college work, we believe there is practical value in the suggestion of Professor Thorndike, that the colleges which now allow the College Entrance Board to examine applicants, entrust to it the power to credit schools on the basis of an examination of the actual success in college of candidates prepared and endorsed by that school.
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