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Baseball and Standardized Testing

Kane County Cougars Minor League Baseball

cc flickr photo: by willowbrookhotels

“George Brett could fall out of bed on Christmas morning and hit a line drive.”  ~ Former Kansas City Royals General Manager John Scherholz

As a Kansas kid, summer meant a break from school, work on the family Christmas tree farm, and Royal’s baseball.  It was an era when players spent entire careers with one team, and George Brett epitomized Kansas City baseball.  Brett played for the Royal’s from 1973 to 1993, ringing up an impressive list of accomplishments, including 3,154 hits, 317 home runs, 1,595 runs batting in and a .305 lifetime batting average.

All that being said, let’s consider a two game stretch during Brett’s 1980 season.  During two games against the Oakland A’s, he tallied nine at-bats and no hits.  Zero hits.  A .000 batting average.  What a shame it would be if we judged George Brett’s season, or career, based upon this two game stretch.  Ridiculous, right?  After all, there are a number of variables that may have contributed to this mini-slump: pitching, the weather, health, umpiring, etc.  By the way, the Hall of Fame third baseman finished the 1980 season with a .390 batting average.

It is testing season at our public schools.  A time when we will use three to four days to make a determination about student progress and teacher performance.  Even assuming that a standardized test is a valid measurement of student understanding (a big assumption), any number of variables could impact student performance during this relatively small testing window.  We wouldn’t judge a professional athlete by those standards, should we be using them to make judgements about students and teachers?  Just saying.

Do your best.  Maintain perspective.  Remember what is important.


About azjd

Junior high principal by day, aspiring difference maker, and Jedi in my own mind. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.


9 thoughts on “Baseball and Standardized Testing

  1. Fabulous analogy! Reminds me of the good old days of baseball and the good old days of school before testing! How do we get back to both of those times?

    Posted by MBFXC | April 13, 2011, 6:14 am
  2. This is a great way to help see through the fallacy that standardized tests are a good way to evaluate students. A student could pass one version of a test and fail another depending on which items are selected. While the results may seem objective, the process of creating and selecting test items is highly subjective. Even the numbers they generate are fuzzy ranges and 5% of the time the real score isn’t even in the fuzzy range. “The Myths of Standardized Testing” is a book all educators should read. Here is a link to my summary, which should simulate more interest in this important subject. http://bit.ly/ifREGi

    Posted by Douglas W. Green, EdD | April 14, 2011, 5:56 am
  3. As a huge baseball fan (Phillies) and an Educator, I love this post. Thanks for putting this issue in such a fine perspective. I have been searching for thoughtful educator blogs and I think I found one. Thanks.

    Posted by marty | April 14, 2011, 1:40 pm
  4. Don’t get me started! I’ve given lots of standardized tests over nearly 30 years of practice (slp), and have little respect for most.

    I do end-of-the-year portfolios with my kids (homeschooled). Each are different in learning style, levels, etc. Portfolios give me a better perspective on their abilities and their progression over the year, as well as year-to-year comparisons.

    Mind you, they have/will be taking some of these, since you can’t escape them, and many colleges still ask for them, but I tell them that they needn’t put much stock in them, not define themselves by them.

    Kaukab’s daughter

    Posted by mymotherstable | April 16, 2011, 11:22 am
  5. As a huge baseball fan I love this analogy. We always here that great baseball players fail 7 out of 10 times. The measure of a great baseball player is how they learn from that failure and get better. They are not automatically benched after every strike out. Another interesting thing to think about is measurement. In baseball there is a big difference between getting fooled on three pitches and lining a ball up the middle and falling victim to an amazing play. A simply adequate manager would realize that the former was on track and seeing the ball well. Standardized tests don’t measure that gray area. Either they are right or wrong.

    Side note: Just planned a cross-country road trip and will be stopping to watch some Royals baseball. Any tips?

    Posted by Tim Monreal | April 18, 2011, 10:32 am
    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Tim.
      I used to live in the Kansas City area…it can be a fun place to visit. If you have a chance after the game, head down to Martin City and eat some barbecue at the Smokestack.

      Go Royals!

      Posted by azjd | April 18, 2011, 7:49 pm
  6. Nobody says standardized tests are perfect. The problem is that they are the best method anyone has offered up. Without proposing a suitable alternative, you are “just saying” the obvious.

    Posted by Underwhelmed | April 18, 2011, 11:38 am
  7. Yes!!! You hit it out of the park with this post. We’re testing right now, and with my subject, history, it’s not about what the students can do; it’s about the facts that they remember on that particular day. I’m quick to remind my students that their test scores are not an accurate reflection on their intelligence. Great post.

    Posted by Sam Rangel | April 29, 2011, 11:58 am

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Jeff Delp

Junior high principal by day, sports enthusiast, technology fanatic and jedi in my own mind. Striving to be a difference maker!
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