Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How Testing and Advance Sports Statistics Relate

In my one of my education classes in the winter semester of 2016 we had a debate in class. The debate was about whether standardized testing was important or not. I argued for the side that believed that standardized testing was important and should be valued.

One of my main arguments lead me back to my favorite things in the world: SPORTS. You may be wondering, "what do sports have to do with testing?" Hopefully by the end of this post you will understand the connection.

In sports we have a lot of stats that we look at. There are normal stats that many of us may know like rebounds in basketball, rushing yards in football, or home runs in baseball. Then there are advanced stats, sometimes called "analytics." Many of these stats require complex calculations like Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in basketball or Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in baseball. Advanced stats like these take everything a player does and boils them down to a number. When scouting players, you can rank them by there advanced statistics. It must be easy to decide who the beast players are then right? Not at all. There are many other factors to look at when scouting a player like their personality, their work ethic, are they good under pressure, are they exceptionally good or bad at one aspect of the sport. All of these play an important role in evaluating a player. The stats are just a tool to help you determine the best player. They are not the be all end all for evaluation. Lets look at an example. Michael Jordan, regarded as arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, had a career PER of 27.91 which is the best all time. Magic Johnson is sometimes argued to be the greatest player of all time but most people put him second behind Jordan. Magic had a career PER of 24.11 which is 14th all time. No one in the right mind would say that Magic Johnson is the 14th greatest player of all time. There was so much more to Magic than the stats show.


All of this relates back to standardized testing. We can look at testing like advanced statistics. Testing boils each student down to a number. But when we evaluate students we shouldn't be looking just at their test scores. There are other important factors that go into evaluating students like their GPA, work ethic, problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, and what subjects they are exceptionally good and bad at. I can use an example from my life. I got a 24 on my ACT while my friend Ben got a 29. When you see that you may assume he is a better student then me. That's not necessarily the case (even though we argue about who is smarter all the time). In high school my GPA was 3.6 while his was 2.3. What does this show you? Clearly I was a much harder worker in school than he was even though he got a higher score on his ACT. Testing doesn't mean everything. There was more that I brought to the table as a student than my ACT score showed.


The ACT or any test like it does not define a student. It does however give colleges, school boards, and parents a tool to track how well students are doing. You can make a generalization about a student based on their test score but you have to learn more about a student that just their test score to get a real evaluation of them. The same goes for an athlete. A statistic does not define the athlete. It can be a tool to help you evaluate an athlete but you need to learn more about the athlete if you are going to get a good evaluation of them. Testing is not the be all end all. It is an important tool for evaluating students.


  1. Marty,
    Being an athlete, I really enjoyed reading your post about the connection between math and sports. I'm in the same boat as you with the standardized testing (maybe a little more on the spectrum of not having to take them at all but still). I was the same as you: did okay on the ACT but my GPA was higher. I remember I talked to my parents about that. I thought it was so unfair because I worked hard in school. I was a "nerd" how you call it about my grades. Then getting that number on the ACT just felt like a slap in the face. Plus, it hurt my chances to getting into some colleges. Honestly, I thought about how colleges should look at who you are as a person overall; just like someone would if they were interviewing someone for a job. They don't just look at your work experience. They look at your recommendations, your strengths and weaknesses, etc.
    Thus, I like your analysis on Michael Jordan and Magic. It really gave the reader a visual to compare to because if you don't know whose those two are then that's unfortunate. It truly shows how bias our society can be when dealing solely on "math" or numbers. I really don't have any constructive comments because I think overall this was well written and your thoughts were explained well. Great Job!

  2. I like the analogy here, but at the same time wonder why we haven't put the effort into advanced student statistics the way we have advanced sports statistics. (JK, I know why. $) What would go into a good school statistic?

    C's: 5/5