The “Eight-Year Study” from the 1930s

Back in the ’30s, 30 high schools around the U.S. turned traditional practice on its head, especially for college-bound students. In place of grade-driven, teacher-controlled, fact-based instruction, the learning was interdisciplinary, conceptual, experiential, collaborative, often ungraded, and fashioned jointly by teachers and students. Hundreds of colleges agreed to set aside their usual admissions requirements so that students from these progressive programs wouldn’t be penalized.

Over several years, more than 1500 students were then compared to carefully matched students from conventional schools. The result: experimental students did just as well at college, and often better, on all counts – grades, extracurricular participation, and lower drop-out rates, as well as on measures such as intellectual curiosity and resourcefulness. And here’s the kicker: “The further a school departed from the traditional college preparation program, the better was the record of its graduates.” Many factors can explain why these remarkable findings were largely ignored and high schools are still so traditional today. But now we know that it’s not because students need, or even benefit from, those traditional practices in order to succeed in college…

You can read more about the “Eight Year Study” here:
(Originally posted by Alfie Kohn here.)