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 North Manchester, Indiana

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Source: NMHS Newsletter May 1994

The Bureau of Tests and Measurements

by Ferne Baldwin

If anyone asked what were the most noted items, beyond the academic program, on which Manchester College built its reputation in the 1930's, the answer almost always included the same three activities. First, the football and basketball teams. They were a threat to any team in the state, including Purdue, Butler and Ball State. The competition with Ball State was particularly intense and a summary of that early period shows that Manchester won 6, lost 8 and tied 2.

Second, the debate tourneys. George Beauchamp came to Manchester College about 1929 and built a program in debate. He developed a High School Debating League which held an annual contest at Manchester. Then he organized a college debating tournament which attracted college teams from all over the eastern United States. As many as 144 teams competed and at least one year an overflow section was sited at Huntington College because there was simply no more room at Manchester.

Third, the Bureau of Tests and Measurements. This activity began in the College Education Department and was placed under the direction of Professor J. G. Meyer and a committee of A. R. Eikenberry, O. Stuart Hamer and I. H. Frantz. The first year, 1933, about fifty thousand semester tests in more than a dozen subjects were sent to city and town high schools in the northern half of Indiana.

By 1935 the work was one of the major functions of the College. Tests compiled by permanent instructors from the college, the local school system and some neighboring systems were being tested in the North Manchester schools before printing. Tests were sold to schools all over Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and other states. Tests covered a wide variety of subjects and by 1936 were expanded to include the International Sunday School Lesson Quarterly.

The work was centered in a small room in the basement of the Administration Building. There tests were sorted and tied into packages ready for mailing. Orders were carefully tabulated. By 1937 Ira Frantz became the Office Manager, receiving the orders and filling the orders. In that year 80,000 tests were sold in the fall semester and plans were underway to standardize the tests and expand the circulation area.

In addition to the high school tests, the bureau was publishing twenty-nine different sets of tests for grades four to eight. The tests for main subjects of elementary were prepared in booklets of sixty-four pages containing eight monthly tests on each of four subjects. Other booklets of sixteen pages covered three other subjects. The high school semester-end tests were printed in eight page booklets containing 100 objective questions.

To print the high school tests alone, the bureau used five tons of paper. The bureau argued that this type of mass production allowed them to sell the booklets at a price which made it uneconomical for schools or teachers to build their own tests. Teachers found them to be significant time savers.

In later years the Bureau of Tests was no longer related to Manchester College. A flyer for winter, 1955 advertises Unit-Elementary Tests covering 150 different text books with 10 tests per book and Semester-End Tests in most high school subjects.

An advertising booklet in 1965 states that Manchester tests are completely ready to administer when you receive them, tough enough to measure both the best and the poorest in your class, and objective and easy to score. Final tests should be MANCHESTER TESTS. That booklet is Volume 32 No. 3.

Perhaps someone among our readers can provide more information about this Bureau of Tests which performed an important function for schools for more than thirty years.