Updated: Jun 14, 2020
When Hunter hired Dickson, he knew he was hiring a person who sympathized with Terman’s beliefs. By 1922, Dickson (1922) had tested nearly 30,000 students. He and his mentor alleged that students with certain IQs should undertake specific jobs, and the schools’ responsibility is to guide students to a suitable vocation based on their IQ.
According to their theory, persons with IQs ranging below 70 were fit only for unskilled labor, those between 70-80 could undertake semi-skilled labor, students scoring 80-100 were able to do skilled or ordinary clerical work, those netting between 100 and 110 could pursue semi-professional positions, and the select few with IQs over 110 could enter the broader fields of business and other professions (Terman, 1922). Consequently, Dickson began testing students early in elementary schools, emphasizing that every step of the student’s vocational training should be at the forefront of this guidance. Thus, many students were entrenched in the tracking system by first grade.
Tracking impacted the students’ academic achievement and social status. The IQ test, fashioned by Caucasian academics, created biased tests, which resulted in non-Caucasian students scoring lower than Caucasian students (Epstein, 2006) with subsequent placement in the lower tracks. Students on the higher tracks received a better education with more rigorous instruction, while students on the lower tracks received less of both. Additionally, the track system affected friendship patterns because students generally made friends with other students on the same track, which not only shaped later networking opportunities but failed to integrate students from different backgrounds (Mickelson, 2002-2003). The academic and social factors of tracking would have significant repercussions for OUSD.
The tracking that Dickson, through Terman, brought into OUSD was successful in creating a system within the school district to separate students based on intelligence. In actuality, because of the bias of the tests, it created a system to separate Caucasian students from non-Caucasian students. Although they did not specify racial separation in their reports, Terman and Dickson undoubtedly would have been satisfied with the result. As open proponents of eugenics, they held the belief that Nordic heritage was superior to non-Nordic heritage.