Of course the 8th graders in the good/bad old days were better educated than those of today. They were more educable. The less so dropped out before they got to the 8th. I'd have never made it!
Nowadays we try to make professionals from those who would have flunked out before the 8th grade in the 1800s. What surprises me most is that we have had some success in this...especially in the field of education.