Tuesday, October 18, 2011

School rating and sports ranking methodology (and tennis)

New York City's Department of Education engages in an extensive, and widely reported, school rating and report card system. It gives elementary schools a progress report rating from A to F based on several criteria including student progress and student performance on state tests. Elementary school students must submit to state proficiency testing each year. The Department of Education looks at both individual proficiency and overall progress. The problem, of course, for schools where many children are reading and doing math at or above grade level, is that it is impossible to show lots of progress (since they're already doing well, and there's an upper limit to how well anyone can do, it's hard to show progress). There's also an issue with the Department of Education's comparative metric.

I've occasionally thought that the Association of Tennis Professionals ranking methodology would provide some guidance or useful ideas for the folks who develop and report the New York City elementary school annual ratings. It's not an entirely fanciful notion. Tennis players must enter tournaments, and earn ranking points for progressing through the elimination rounds. Professional tennis and elementary education are not really analogous, of course. But all the same, the tennis rankings, while complex, take account of players who finished the previous year high in the rankings - and therefore can't move up.

Now I've come across another website, Greatest Sporting Nation, whose methodology New York City Department of Education might also want to take a look at. The Greatest Sporting Nation purports to identify which country competing in international competitions is the greatest overall at sports. (It also ranks countries on a per capita basis, as well ranking each sport, and male and female athletes, separately.) The website is well written and explains itself quite clearly. The first metric I'd suggest the New York City Department of Education take a look at is the Global Ranking, a ranking based on performances over the previous four years. Looking at a longer time frame might give New York City parents a better sense of how the school their kids attend has been performing. I'd also like the schools to take a look at the Per Capita Cup, which measures performance taking account of population size.

Just saying.

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