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Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
W. Clement Wood
The purpose of the study was to appraise the ungraded primary as an administrative device providing for individual differences of pupils through the media of instruction. The study was confined to Miller Elementary School, Dodge City, Kansas, where the ungraded primary has been in operation for two years; however, the study includes reports from other schools having similar organizational plans. In order to obtain the desired information two questionnaires were prepared. The first questionnaire was used with the teaching staff of Miller Elementary School. The purpose was to gather information as to how the ungraded primary had helped each teacher, the strengths and the weaknesses of the organization, and suggestions as to its improvement. Specific criticisms or weaknesses of the program were listed as (1) too many workbooks (the book list is prepared in the central office and pertains to all children in Dodge City), (2) grouping which tends to keep some children together too long, (3) graded structure of materials, (4) grade mindedness of teachers and parents, (5) parental reluctance to accept change, (6) mobility of children, and (7) the other schools' lack of understanding of ungraded philosophy. Most of the teachers suggested that the ungraded plan had (1) facilitated better grouping within the room, (2) removed pressure from children, (3) given children more time to mature and develop basic skills, (4) provided for individual differences in scholastic growth and development, (5) benefited both the slow learner and the more gifted, (6) provided a framework in which individualized instruction was possible, (7) motivated a more effective reading program, and (8) prompted them to improve their teaching methods. Suggestions for the improvement of the organizational plan were (1) a continuous program of parent education, (2) further changes and a refinement of the curriculum to nurture the philosophy of continuous progress, (3) teachers must continually challenge all pupils to use their potentialities, (4) continued appraisal of grouping and curriculum, and (5) the extension of the ungraded philosophy through the intermediate grades. Replies to the second questionnaire were received from fifty of the fifty-four schools reported to have an ungraded program. The results indicated the following: eight of the schools (16 per cent) have discontinued their programs; nine schools (18 per cent) had this type of organization from one to four years; eleven schools (22 per cent) had the ungraded plan from five to nine years; sixteen schools (32 per cent) had been organized on this basis from ten to fourteen years; three schools (6 per cent) bad been organized from fifteen to nineteen years; two schools (4 per cent) had been in operation from twenty to twenty-four years, and one school failed to report the length of time for its program. In regard to the benefits of the ungraded primary for the child, the following were considered to be important by the respondents: (1) provides for individual differences, (2) allows child to progress at own rate, (3) avoids retention, (4) provides acceleration without skipping, (5) provides individualized instruction, (6) makes possible philosophy of continuous growth, (7) increases success in reading, (8) removes grade barriers, (9) implements knowledge of child growth and development, (10 ) provides flexibility in grouping, (11) provides optimum achievement, (12) reduces frustration , (13) reduces needless repetition, (14) narrows span of ability level within a room, (15) reduces anxiety over retention, (16) continues sequence of learning experience, (17) reduces discipline problems, (18) provides longer block of time for mastery of skills, (19) makes possible a more flexible curriculum, and (20) facilitates movement from one room to another. Teacher benefits include (1) greater teacher efficiency, (2) equalization of teaching load, (3) better cooperation among teachers, (4) reduced tensions , (5) better mental health , (6) promotion of team teaching, (7) broadened horizons, (8) individualization of teaching, and (9) provision for individual counseling. Some of the factors which contributed to the failure of ungraded plans were (1) lack of teacher cooperation and enthusiasm, (2) lack of parental understanding and support, (3) lack of administrative support, (4) pupil mobility, (5) population growth, (6) too much categorizing of pupils, (7) problem of evaluation, and (8) record keeping. The study of the ungraded primary as an administrative device for meeting individual differences has revealed that most ungraded primaries are based on reading levels which replace grades one, two, and three in the elementary school. The philosophy of continuous progress is the basis upon which the ungraded primary operates. Extensive reading and investigation disclosed some general principles which should be prominent in the thoughts of educators who are interested in establishing an ungraded primary. An analysis of the responses on the questionnaires has substantiated the importance of these principles. These principles are actually inherent in the philosophy which undergirds the ungraded primary. They are: 1. There is a wide variation in the development rates of children, 2. A time progress record of a pupil is more meaningful than grade classification, 3. Pupils who are slow in starting frequently make a satisfactory educational adjustment if give a longer period of time for development, 4. Competent teachers know that a child six years of age by the calendar is not necessarily age six mentally or socially, 5. Good work habits are promoted by successful effort and achievement in challenging tasks within the range of individual abilities, 6. Fair competition result in frustration, lack of interest, and undesirable compensatory behavior, 7. If humiliation is avoided and self-respect is preserved, individuals may be aided in accepting their limitations, 8. Attitudes toward learning activities which are developed in the primary area are likely to become permanent, 9. Administrative adjustment in support of individual instruction promotes a higher standard of teaching, 10. The teacher is held responsible for the optimal growth of each child, 11. The teacher should be encouraged to consider subject matter and skill in relation to the development of each child, 12. Individual instruction and progress encourages both fast and slow learners to industrious effort, 13. Individual instruction promotes character building and wholesome social attitudes, 14. Individualized instruction prevents pupils from being obscured in mass promotion, and stimulates industrious effort on the part of each, 15. Repeated failure and grade retention are destructive, 16. The good teacher finds ways of operating effectively in any setting, 17. No administrative organization guarantees good teaching, 18. If the goal of education is the development of the child to the limit of his potential, then the school should see that each child acquires facility in all basic fundamentals in all fields, 19. Proper mental growth can be as painless and as natural as healthy physical growth, 20. Interest is a stronger educational incentive than force, 21. Success can be achieved in proportion to capacity and interest, 22. The child is the focal point of the whole educational system, 23. The individual child is as unique as his fingerprints, 24. Even a label cannot obscure the individuality of the child, 25. Children are done considerable harm by labels, 26. A successful school involves both parents and teachers in formulating plans or changes in the school system, 27. Maintaining a balance in the curriculum is essential, 28. Every child has the right to learn, 29. Distinctiveness, individual worth, and freedom rise or fall together, 30. The child is constantly perceiving, behaving, and becoming. It would appear from the results of the study on the ungraded primary school in practice at Miller Elementary School in Dodge City that it should be continued with focus on the improvement of instruction. It is further recommended that the ungraded plan of organization be considered for the entire elementary school, grades one through six. It is apparent that the ungraded primary is no panacea for problems of curriculum and instruction. The ungraded primary structure will not automatically provide the ideal learning environment for which the school may be seeking. It is only an administrative device, but it is compatible with continuous pupil progress, longitudinal curriculum development, and integrated learning. Since the merits of the ungraded primary outweigh the weaknesses and the problems involved, the ungraded primary can and should be utilized as an administrative device to promote and encourage the improvement of instruction in providing for individual differences among children.
Copyright 1962 Irene L. Thompson
Thompson, Irene L., "The Ungraded Primary as an Administrative Device" (1962). Master's Theses. 761.