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inaccurate that very little practical benefit can be derived from them. In others they are so complicated and minute, that teachers find it impossible to devote the time required by them, without neglecting other important duties.*
Such records only should be required as will be of some practical value or general interest, and the greatest care should be taken to make the directions for keeping them so plain and explicit that even an inexperienced teacher, with ordinary care, will be in no danger of falling into errors.
The three essential elements of the records which are designed more particularly to aid the teacher in raising the standard of scholarship and discipline, are attendance, scholarship, and deportment.
In respect to the records from which the general summaries are prepared at the close of the year, it is to be regretted that so little uniformity exists in different cities and towns. The practice of exchanging school reports now prevails in all parts of the country, and comparisons are constantly made respecting the cost of instruction, regularity of attendance, etc.; but the data from which these results are obtained are so different in different places that the comparisons, in a majority of cases, are entirely unreliable. In one city or town the cost of instruction
*“School statistics are far inferior, in completeness and accuracy, to the commercial, manufacturing, and agricultural statistics of the day. It ought not to be so, for certainly the products of the school. room can vie in value with the products of the farm or the factory." ---A. J. Richoff, Superiztendent of Schools, Cincinnati.
for each scholar is based on the average number enrolled during the year, and in another on the whole number. In one, the cost of instruction embraces all the expenditures for school purposes, including permanent investments; in another, it includes the current expenses for tuition, supplies, and repairs, together with five or six per cent. on the whole valuation of the school estates, which is regarded as rent; and in a third it includes only tuition, supplies, and repairs.
In one city or town, a pupil who is absent from school a single week, is marked as left, and his absences no longer affect the attendance averages. In another, the name of a pupil is crossed from the roll when he has been absent two weeks; in another, when he has been absent a month; and there are instances in which the absences continue to count to the end of the term, even though the pupil may have left at the close of the first week.
Of the various statistical results which are embodied in the reports of different cities and towns, the following are generally regarded as the most important:
1. Average number belonging. 2. Average daily attendance.
3. Per cent. of daily attendance on average number belonging.
4. Whole number of different scholars.
5. Expense per scholar on average number belonging The first of these, the average number belonging,
is, in many respects, the most important of the five. It is the basis of all reliable estimates in regard to the accommodations required, the number of teachers, and the expense of sustaining the schools.
The point which chietly concerns us in this connection, is the condition on which a pupil shall forfeit his seat in school. If we can secure uniformity of practice in this particular, one important object will be accomplished. In the public schools of Chicago, when a pupil is suspended from school by any of the rules of the Board of Education, he is recorded as having left, and in all other cases, when
, a pupil is absent more than five consecutive schooldays, he is recorded as having left--the date of leav. ing being at the close of the fifth day. This rule is adopted, not because we have any very strong preference for the exact period of one week, but because this limit is found on trial to be as convenient as any other, and because it is the period adopted in many other cities.
The second item of the foregoing list, average daily attendance, is easily obtained, and the practice of different cities and towns is nearly uniform in regard to it.
The per cent. of daily attendance on the average number belonging is, in most cases, a pretty safe index to the general character and progress of the school. The accuracy of this result depends mainly upon
of the record from which the average number belonging is obtained.
The whole number of different scholars, when com
pared with the average number belonging, shows approximately the per cent. of changes that take place in the membership of a school. This per cent. varies greatly in different places.
The cost of instruction per scholar is an item of special importance, and it is to be regretted that so little uniformity has heretofore prevailed in respect to the manner of obtaining it. That this estimate should properly be based on the average number belonging, and not on the whole number of different scholars during the year, nor on the average daily attendance, must, I think, be evident to any one who will carefully examine the subject. The whole number of different scholars may vary from year to year to any extent, without affecting materially the number of seats required, or the number of teachers, or the actual expense of sustaining the schools, provided the average number belonging remains unchanged. In a city having accommodations for 10,000 scholars, the whole number of different pupils may be swelled by constant changes to 20,000, without increasing the actual enrollment at any time beyond the ori ginal 10,000. If, now, we estimate the cost of instruction per scholar on the whole number enrolled, it will appear to be only one half as great as it would if the membership of the school remained unchanged. Here, then, is an apparent reduction of one half the cost of instruction per scholar, without any reduction whatever in the actual expenditures. The truth is, the city is taxed for the instruction of 10,000 children, and not for the instruction of 20,000, and the
estimates should be made to correspond with the facts.
So also of the average attendance; it may be high or low, but so long as the average number belonging is the same, the labor and expense are but slightly affected. Each pupil enrolled as a member of the school, must have a seat, whether present or absent.
In some cases, two separate averages are made, one giving the cost per scholar on the average number belonging, and the other on the whole number. To this practice there can be no objection, as it will not be likely to mislead.
The foregoing suggestions respecting school records, are presented in the hope that they may contribute, in some degree, to the introduction of greater uniformity of practice in this important department of school economy.
At a meeting of the National Teachers' Association, held at Buffalo, in 1860, a valuable report on school statistics was presented by C. S. Pennell, Esq., of St. Louis, chairman of a special committee appointed for this object at a previous meeting. The following extracts are copied from Mr. Pennell's report:
“The committee have corresponded with superintendents and teachers, and have examined school reports as extensively as they have been able. They find the sentiment very prevalent that our school statistics, as now collected and presented, have far less value than they ought to possess; and they are compelled to believe this sentiment founded in truth. This does not, however, in the least diminish our estimate of the value of reliable records, nor weaken ! our confidence that our school records may serve a very valuable purpose. Theoretic views must be subjected to actual trial, and