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There are, I believe, only two exceptions; namely, loversville and Hudson, and these can probably be reached in the next general examination.
I think a further effort should be made to have section 3 of the original Civil Service Law amended so that the provisions for employes and examiners under the Commission shall be more nearly adequate to the work now performed. The provisions of the law as it stands have again been found inadequate and productive of much friction and dissatisfaction, besides placing upon the chief examiner 'a continual burden in the search for new examiners to replace those who have earned the whole compensation allowed by law and are unwilling to do further work until they can receive further pay.
EXAMINATIONS OF THE YEAR 1897. I shall here note such of the competitive examinations as seem to require special mention. A table appended to the report gives a complete list of the competitive examinations held during the year.
The first large examination of the year was that for court positions in New York city. These included court attendants, janitors, record clerks, law clerks, court stenographers and interpreters. The examinations consumed four days; January 25th, 26th, 27th and 30th. Of these examinations, that for) court stenographers is noticeable for the fact that we had in the examination practically all the candidates in New York city or Brooklyn who were competent to do court work, with the exception of those who already held official positions. Another examination held on November 20th for Supreme Court stenographer called forth, as we were informed, all the available material in the city. There were thirty-four candidates, seventeen of whom were found qualified. I have no hesitancy in saying that every one of the qualified persons would, so far as ability and experience goes, make a perfectly competent stenographer in a court of record.
In the January examination for interpreters the candidates were given their option of competing in any one of the following languages: German, Spanish, Italian, French, Swedish and Hebrew Jargon, and separate eligible lists were made for the different languages. The examination consisted of written translation from printed copy and from dictation, both from the foreign language into English and from English into the foreign language, and also of an oral examination in which the candidates were required to translate matter dictated by the expert examiner from English into the foreign language and vice versa. Mr. Woodbridge of the Brooklyn Court Examining Board conducted a very careful examination of the character and experience of the applicants. A further examination for the position of Supreme Court interpreter in New York city was held December 4, 1897. In this examination candidates were required to qualify in all of the following languages: Italian, German, Hebrew Jargon, French and Spanish. It seemed at first very doubtful whether any candidate with all the qualifications would appear for examination. Of the thirteen candidates who were examined it was found that three had done fair work in all of the required languages and had passed with comparatively high averages. One or two of the others failed only because they lacked entirely one or another of the required languages. I employed for this examination four experts; one for the German and Hebrew Jargon and one for each of the other languages, and took personal charge of the preparations, holding personal consultation with the examiners on several occasions before the examination. A thorough test was given the candidates in the French, Italian and Hebrew Jargon, by having present at the examination a native Frenchman, a native Italian and a Jew who could converse in the Jargon and not in German, and the candidates were required as part of the examination to converse with these persons in the presence of the examiners. In this way it was easy to distinguish the candidates who understood German and not Hebrew Jargon from those competent in both languages, and to test the knowledge of Italian dialects by actual practice.
An examination was held February 2d for the position of station editor and librarian at the Agricultural Experiment Station at a salary of $1,800 per annum and house rent. The examination covered natural sciences, French, German, editing and proof reading, cataloguing and indexing. From the successful candidates an appointment has been made which I am informed is very satisfactory to the authorities of the station.
An examination for chief clerk in the State Board of Charities was held on February 3d, the position seeming to require a knowledge of office work and affairs beyond that represented by our general list of clerks.
The examinations for draughtsmen, both engineering and architectural, have been extended from one day to two days of eight hours each, so as to give opportunity to the candidates to do a considerable amount of careful draughting in the examination in answer to set questions. This plan was pursued in the examinations of February 10th and 11th and August 27th and 28th. The results have been more satisfactory to the examiners than any that have been obtained in a one day's examination.
The cessation of contract labor in the State prisons necessitated the establishment of several new industries to supply the demands of the various State and municipal officers and boards. Competitive examinations were held on March 4th for superintendent of cabinet-making industry, superintendent of clothmaking industry and superintendent of printing industry; on April 22d for superintendent of the Goodyear shoe industry and on May 18th for foreman of the knitting industry, in the various prisons. In each of these examinations the questions related entirely to the experience and practical knowledge required for the position. They were prepared by experts in the various industries and the successful candidates appointed have proven satisfactory to all concerned.
On March 23d at Elmira and Albany was held an examination for telegrapher. The subjects of examination were the same as. for clerks with the addition of a practical test in telegraphy, This test was conducted in Albany by the superintendent of the local Western Union office and in Elmira by the telegrapher at the Elmira Reformatory. The practical exercise consisted in
the sending and receiving of messages exactly as would be done in a telegraph office. From the resulting list several appointments have been made.
Three examinations have been held during the year for the position of assistant manual training instructor at the Elmira Reformatory, and one for a similar position at the State Industrial School. Although the requirement of residence in New York State was suspended by the Commission in each of these cases, it was necessary to repeat the examination before suitable candidates could be obtained. The supply of properly schooled instructors in these branches seems to be smaller than the demand.
On March 23 and 24th examinations were held for the positions of statistical clerkand inspector of teachers' training classes in the Department of Public Instruction. The examination for inspector covered all the subjects included in the uniform examinations of the department, especial weight being laid upon the history of education, school management and methods. The examination for statistical clerk was identical with the first day's examination for inspector, and covered spelling, arithmetic, algebra, grammar and composition, bookkeeping, civil government and school law.
In the examinations for stenographer and typewriter, in order to avoid the inconvenience resulting from the large number of declinations of appointment to low grade positions by those on the eligible list, we have held graded examinations. The candidates for the first grade (salary under $600 per annum), being required to take dictation at ninety words per minute; for the second grade (salary $600 to $900 per annum), at 120 words per minute, and for the third grade (salary over $900 per annum), at 150 words per minute. The bulk of the appointments in the State departments are made from the second grade list, and we have heard many compliments of the work done by the appointees from that list. The State institutions on the other hand pay lower salaries and take their stenographers from the first grade list. These persons although competent stenographers have not as a rule had a great deal of experience and cannot be made so generally useful as those in the higher grades. In order that the dictation at the various places in these examinations shall be uniform, they have been conducted in person either by myself or Mr. Saxton, as I felt it would be unfair to candidates in different parts of the State to be tested by dictation of the different local examiners. The speed of ninety words per minute seems to be a high one for a minimum requirement, but it is found that a very large percentage of the candidates who have taken a thorough course in stenography and had a little actual office practice are able to write successfully at this speed when the dictation is careful and distinct. Examinations for stenographers were held in April and October in eleven cities of the State.
Examinations were held at the Elmira Reformatory on April 15th and 16th for director of trades schools, and on June 12th for director of schools. The trades schools and common English schools of the Reformatory are taught very largely by convict instructors, with the assistance of a few outside instructors employed by the hour. The two directors mentioned have charge respectively of the two kinds of schools and select the convict teachers and to a certain extent instruct them. Special attention was paid to the thoroughness of the education of candidates and to their experience as fitting them for the duties of the positions.
As soon as practicable, after the promulgation of the new rules on July 1st, arrangements were made for a general examination to be held in a large number of cities, to provide merit lists for as many as possible of the positions for which frequent demands are made. Nineteen cities were selected, covering the whole area of the State in such a way that no candidate should be more than fifty or sixty miles from an examination.
Examining boards were selected in each of the cities and villages and examinations were held on August 27th and 28th for thirty-four positions, for which we endeavor to keep standing eligible lists. The only important positions not covered were that of stenographer, the examination for which requires the