Intelligence Tests Of The Feeble-minded

Thus far intelligence tests have found their chief application in the identification

and grading of the feeble-minded. Their value for this purpose is twofold. In the first

place, it is necessary to ascertain the degree of defect before it is

possible to decide intelligently upon either the content or the method

of instruction suited to the training of the backward child. In the

second place, intelligence tests are rapidly extendi
g our conception of

"feeble-mindedness" to include milder degrees of defect than have

generally been associated with this term. The earlier methods of

diagnosis caused a majority of the higher grade defectives to be

overlooked. Previous to the development of psychological methods the

low-grade moron was about as high a type of defective as most physicians

or even psychologists were able to identify as feeble-minded.

Wherever intelligence tests have been made in any considerable number in

the schools, they have shown that not far from 2 per cent of the

children enrolled have a grade of intelligence which, however long they

live, will never develop beyond the level which is normal to the average

child of 11 or 12 years. The large majority of these belong to the moron

grade; that is, their mental development will stop somewhere between the

7-year and 12-year level of intelligence, more often between 9 and 12.

The more we learn about such children, the clearer it becomes that they

must be looked upon as real defectives. They may be able to drag

along to the fourth, fifth, or sixth grades, but even by the age of

16 or 18 years they are never able to cope successfully with the more

abstract and difficult parts of the common-school course of study. They

may master a certain amount of rote learning, such as that involved in

reading and in the manipulation of number combinations but they cannot

be taught to meet new conditions effectively or to think, reason, and

judge as normal persons do.

It is safe to predict that in the near future intelligence tests will

bring tens of thousands of these high-grade defectives under the

surveillance and protection of society. This will ultimately result in

curtailing the reproduction of feeble-mindedness and in the elimination

of an enormous amount of crime, pauperism, and industrial inefficiency.

It is hardly necessary to emphasize that the high-grade cases, of the

type now so frequently overlooked, are precisely the ones whose

guardianship it is most important for the State to assume.