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JPR Feature
Testing in Schools   
Friday June 10, 2005
By Alice Mullaly

Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson

"No Child Left Behind" is the goal of today's national program to raise the level of learning for all our young people. Regular testing is part of this plan as it was in Medford, Oregon, a century ago.

In October 1905 the Southern Oregonian newspaper reported a surprise test sprung on students at Medford High School. The purpose, according to the paper, was to "keep the students awake to the practical things of everyday life." This was to be the first of many such tests.

Students had ninety minutes to answer twenty questions in civics and practical mathematics. Among the questions were: "What is the latitude and longitude of Medford, Oregon, within ten degrees?" "How many representatives are in the Oregon Legislature?" "Find the simple interest on $245.60 at 9% for 2 years, 7 months and 21 days," and "How wide, long and thick is a common brick?"

Test results were not good. The mathematics questions caused the downfall of most students but the civics questions also puzzled many. The average score of all students was only 33%.

It would seem that school improvement has been an ongoing, uphill battle for a long time and anxiety over test scores have plagued students for generations.

Today's episode of As It Was was written by Alice Mullaly, the program engineer is Raymond Scully.  I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org

Southern Oregonian, "School Notes", October 20, 1905, p.2

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