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JAMA 100 Years Ago
December 23 2009


JAMA. 2009;302(24):2712. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1846

In an address on “American Standards of Education,” given before the American Association for the Advancement of Science,1 Elmer Ellsworth Brown, United States Commissioner of Education, calls attention to the many efforts, mostly since 1900, made to standardize educational institutions in this country.

The fixing of standards is properly a state function; but no attempts were made by any state to standardize its educational institutions until 1892, when New York adopted a standard requiring that any institution to be ranked as a college (medical colleges seem to have been excepted) should have at least six professors giving their entire time to college and university work, that it should give a four-year course of studies of college grade, that it should require for admission four years of high-school work, and that it should have resources of at least $500,000, together with suitable provision for buildings, furniture, equipment and proper maintenance. In 1895 Pennsylvania adopted a standard requiring a four-year course and six regular professors devoting their entire time to teaching, but left the standards of admission and other matters to the judgment of a university council. In Pennsylvania likewise medical colleges seem to have been excepted from regulation. In 1893, in California, the state board of education was made responsible for the grading and classification of higher educational institutions. In 1907 the state educational board of Iowa was authorized to accept graduation from the courses in the state university and from other institutions of learning of equal rank in the state as evidence of fitness for a teacher's state certificate.

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