Thousands of people visited the town's new graded schools in the 1880s and carried their observations back to their homes throughout the South.
John McDonald and her daughter Mary, both teachers at the Raleigh Graded School, each taught a model class of elementary students, and there were also a number of lecturers who each spoke for an evening or two.
But perhaps the most important event to occur at the first Normal School in 1881 took place one evening after classes when Alexander Graham, a young man who had recently been appointed superintendent of the graded school in Fayetteville, gave a "well attended" lecture on graded schools at the courthouse in Wilson which "awakened considerable interest among our leading citizens." Later that week, fueled by extensive coverage in the local newspaper, graded school enthusiasts held a series of meetings in town to drum up further support.
Their study involved the mailing of two English papers to two hundred high schools to be graded according to the practices and standards of that school and its English instructor.
His only other instruction was that this composition was submitted by a candidate for the India Civil Service, that the work was to be graded as if the reader were the appointed examiner, and that a grade of 100 was the maximum possible.
For nearly a quarter century I taught, discussed, assigned, assessed, and graded, in some order or another.
Realizing that for assessment to be formative, it must be timely, I graded and returned each submission with comments and tried to incorporate a consideration of common mistakes into a Socratic session.
When the graded assignment is returned from the instructor, the opportunity to think about the assignment is once again an option but so, too, is the option to stash the assignment in a backpack or portfolio.