What looks best on paper… doesn’t always turn out best….

As a NFL fan, this time of year is the best time of year. The air-waves are full of pundits, sharing their opinions about how prospective players will perform in the “league”.Hope abounds for all teams future.  Pundits all project where many of the players will be drafted, based upon previous performance and combine results. Players get a paper rating based on all of the measurables the NFL or pundit values. Often players receive many different ratings from the pundits.  Teams complete their own ratings and select players based upon their criteria. Some players live up (or down) to their “paper” rating, while many surprise even the best scouts predictions, by not living up to expectations or exceeding them.

Education has now started playing this “rating” game. Test scores are used to predict how students will perform in their future. Teachers evaluations are now being based upon these scores. Predictions of outcomes are used to measure success, not true successes. This can be dangerous. Just ask the teams that drafted: Ryan Leaf, Charles Rodgers, Brian Bosworth, Tim Couch, etc. They received rave reviews after the draft but on the field the players faltered. Every classroom has at least one student who does well on the test but fails to produce on other class activities. These students might need help with social skills or task completion skills vital to being successful in life but not measured on tests.

On the other hand we have hidden gems, those that exceed the projected performance. Some students struggle on tests, but always produce great results on projects and participate in every way possible. Theses students cry when they receive poor test grades and ask for re-take and redo opportunities often. The NFL comparisons are Tom Brady (6th round pick) Shannon Sharpe (8th round) and Richard Dent (8th round) all pro-bowlers or future pro-bowler. They have the immeasurables.

Test have yet to be able to measure: determination, heart and will to succeed. Our students all have these traits to some extend or another. Education needs to remember that our students are so much more than a test score. What their paper states might look great or bad. Teachers need to help it improve but not make students feel it determines their future. Teachers need to remember what looks best on paper isn’t always best. Albert Einstein did not do well in school, but he turned out okay! The “Unabomber” did great in school, yet ended up a serial killer.

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