1895 Kansas Test

Posted by: bloomsby

1895 Kansas Test - Mon Dec 31 2012 08:50 PM

Many years ago an American friend emailed me this test, allegedly set for kids graduating from Grade 8 in 1895 in Saline County, Kansas:

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.

4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.

5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.

6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.

7. - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts.bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per are, the distance around which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607 1620 1800 1849 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?

4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.'

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound:Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences, cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

4. Describe the mountains of North America.

5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.

6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.

7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.

8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?

9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.

10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

Source: http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/a/1895exam.htm

My first reaction was that this was a spoof, but above source goes on to say "There is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the exam, but there are questions about for whom it was intended".

I'm not very interested in what the test does or doesn't tell us about 'standards' but the assumptions on which the test is based. Given the very short time allowed, I assume that the questions - with the exception of those in Arithmetic - presuppose extremely brief answers drawn from a stock of memorized questions and answers.

I'd welcome comments and thoughts from others.
Posted by: agony

Re: 1895 Kansas Test - Tue Jan 01 2013 12:41 AM

The times don't really seem so short to me, except possibly for the History section, and I'd assume that for much of that, the answers were expected to be short. "1607, establishment of Jamestown, first English settlement in America", that kind of thing, rather than an overview of significant events throughout the year 1607. I'd say the answers to most of the questions would be roughly what we expect from an interesting info section.

If this were anything like the schools my parents went to thirty years later, only the best students would still be in school by eighth grade, in rural areas, at least. Actually, my grandfather was a young teen in Kansas at that time, but he would have left school four or five years earlier.
Posted by: queproblema

Re: 1895 Kansas Test - Tue Jan 01 2013 01:17 AM

This is mere speculation, but I would guess it's similar to what Laura Ingalls (author of the Little House series) had to take to become a schoolteacher at the age of--was it sixteen?
Posted by: Tizzabelle

Re: 1895 Kansas Test - Tue Jan 01 2013 05:08 AM

At first glance, I'd say I'd fail but it's not so bad when I look at it more closely. I'd have to learn what rods, perches, bushels etc were, but the arithmetic would be ok once I did. But hang on.. in Arithmetic, question seven is
What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per metre
Would American school children then or now have had an idea of what a metre is? Hmm...more investigation required..

Edited to add that metre is spelt the UK English way, not the American way.. though possibly that was the standard at the time. I can't say either way.
Posted by: mehaul

Re: 1895 Kansas Test - Tue Jan 01 2013 08:09 AM

How many fell for the old "write a check" (Arithetic #10) scam from the "Traveling Education Review Board - Surprise Evaluation Division"?
Posted by: bloomsby

Re: 1895 Kansas Test - Tue Jan 01 2013 06:38 PM

Many thanks to you all for your comments. The point made by agony that the answers expected were presumably extremely short is supported by Q7-10 of the Grammar section:

7. - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Here a 150 word answer counts as equivalent to four answers.

Many thanks, Tizzabelle, for spotting the puzzling, one-off use of 'metre' in the Arithmetic section. This suggests to me that either the exam/test has been carelessly transcribed or that the original text has been tampered with.

queproblema, thanks for drawing attention to the exam described by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

My own hunch is that the whole thing was designed for candidates somewhat above Grade Eight.

Yes, I'm aware that in the 1890s (and in Britain, even until 1922) it was often the exception rather than the rule for kids in North America and the UK to stay at school till age 14.
Posted by: agony

Re: 1895 Kansas Test - Tue Jan 01 2013 08:18 PM

My own hunch is that the whole thing was designed for candidates somewhat above Grade Eight.

I think they crammed a lot into them, as they knew they didn't have many of them for long. My grandfather, who was at school in Kansas during this era, only went up to I believe the fourth grade, and, while he was far from being an educated man, he wrote a fine hand, and could read in both German and English.

Unlike the East or Europe, a western town couldn't count on having access to better-educated people. Town officials and business owners had to be drawn from the pool of those eighth graders.
Posted by: bloomsby

Re: 1895 Kansas Test - Thu Jan 03 2013 03:36 PM

I think they crammed a lot into them ...

Yes, to me the test presupposes oodles of cramming. wink
Posted by: gracious1

Re: 1895 Kansas Test - Thu Jan 03 2013 04:07 PM

I'm really impressed with the "Orthography" section. We should teach more of that in middle school. If today's 8th-graders could answer those questions, that would be an accomplishment. I wish I had been taught those things in the 8th grade.
Posted by: bloomsby

Re: 1895 Kansas Test - Thu Jan 03 2013 05:53 PM

Thanks, Grace. I find some of questions in the "Orthography" section odd. For example, there's the question " ... divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last". All these words except "mercy" are monosyllabic, so I wonder if this was a trick question of some kind? I'm bewildered by the request for "the sign that indicates the sound". (There's no sign that indicates the sounds of syllables in English). Perhaps the test was asking for the name of the sign used to indicate syllabic division, but I'm guessing.

Then there's the (for me) mysterious reference to "caret 'u' " - a term that conveyed nothing to me until I looked it up in connection with this test. (Perhaps it's only used in America).

When looking "carat 'u' up I was interested to find this on a popular Q&A site. Perhaps the question is still being used in some schools. wink

Posted by: bloomsby

Re: 1895 Kansas Test - Sun Jan 13 2013 04:40 PM

Copied from the thread "From a 1953 Exam Paper". These comments belong in this thread.



You might be interested in this article about the test.

It's mostly about the mistaken assumption that since today's eighth graders couldn't pass it, it necessarily follows that educational standards have dropped. There's nothing about the authenticity of the test, but since Snopes is usually pretty good about checking these things, I'd assume that they accept it as a real test from the time.



#960386 - Thu Jan 10 2013 05:04 PM Re: From a 1953 Exam Paper [Re: bloomsby]


Thanks for the link. Actually, this should be in the 1895 Kansas Test thread.

I have read the Snopes article and found it disappointing. It seems to be making three rather obvious points at some length:

1. Beware sensationalist headlines about standards. (Agreed) I remember that after the launch of Sputnik I in 1957 there was a lot of panicky talk about What little Ivan knows that Johnny doesn't and so on. (You don't hear that one nowadays. )

2. That, by comparison with today, the 1895 Kansas Test seems to point to a narrow education. (Agreed)

3. That one should not draw conclusions about educational standards on the basis of such comparisons. This is, in effect, merely a restatement of John B. Carroll's well-known dictum: [We should not be surpised if] by and large students learn, if anything, precisely what they are taught. I'm not sure about precisely but apart from that he hit the nail on the head.