Sunday, April 17, 2011

Playing Golf under Educational Accountability rules

Another perspective on high stakes testing: Playing golf under Educational Accountability rules.
by Jack McKay, Executive Director, The Horace Mann League of the USA.

What if we applied the guidelines of public education accountability to golf?
For golfers to improve, there needs to better methods of golf accountability. Even after all of the new technology, new equipment, and improved instructional practices, the nation’s average golf scores were stagnant.  One policy maker stated, “We can not continue to spend money on our nation’s courses and golfers unless we see some drastic improvement.  Simply put, our golfers are no longer ranked high, internationally as before.  Our nation’s golfers are at risk.”  Following is what could happen to the game of golf if “Leave No Golfer Behind” (LNGB) accountability was imposed.
The first major change would be to establish a modest standard that all golfers need to meet to become a “real” golfer.  The standard or passing score, for example, would be a score of 80 or lower (In golf, the lower the score the better.). There would be one “round” day each year where all golfers would be expected to score 80 or lower to be considered a “real” golfer. 
Second, with the expectation that all golfers basically had the same potential ability, physical make-up and basic aptitude, the handicapping system would be eliminated.  There is the expectation that no matter where the “less able” golfer played or the equipment used – from the country club course to the urban, par three theme-parks, all needed to be considered the same on the “round” day.
Third, on the state-wide “round” day, all golfers would submit their scores to be analyzed and reviewed by the “Golf Standards Commission.”  The Commission would release the “club score to the media so the community would have a reference point of the well being of their golfers and the effectiveness of their golf courses and staff. 
Fourth, each pro would have his or her groups’ average score for review.  The pro’s own evaluation, and in some cases promotion to “head pro,” would be based on the success of his or her group of golfers.  If the average of all the golfers at the course did not reach the 80 level, the golf course was considered a “failing” golf club. 
After an analysis of the results, the pros for the failing golfers would start to hold extra golf clinics on driving, chipping, putting and distribute books and DVDs on how to improve at golf.  If only the less able golfer would try harder, keep the head down and the right elbow in, golf scores would improve significantly.  If only the “less able” would be more serious and try harder at playing golf.
The less able golfers soon realized that some other golfers in their group were naturally good, while others had no chance of reaching 80 by the time the next “round” or in their lifetime.  The more able golfers and the pros also realized this difference in ability and encouraged some of the “less able” to transfer to another golf courses or selling their clubs and find another game – maybe gardening or boating. By eliminating the “less able” at their course, average golf scores at course would certainly improve.
However, behind the scenes, most of the “good” pros at the failing clubs were updating their resume in hopes of finding a “better” golf club.  Ironically, the best pros left for the good golf courses.  Another unanticipated situation was the increasing number of pros encouraging their golfers to use multiple “mulligans” during the game.  A new level of creative score keeping at  golf.  (Modified Campbell’s Law:  The more important the score takes on, the more likely it, and the people who depend on it, will become corrupted.  For example, Enron, elections, and Houston schools)
Sixth, the “less able” felt it was not fair that they had to compete with golfers who had better clubs and golf balls and came from the “better” golf courses.  There was frustration and hopelessness for many.  Some simply gave up on golf.
Another unintended consequence of the NGLB accountability standard was that golfers, who enjoyed the friendly competition, quit because they felt that without a golfing handicapping system, it was impossible to compete fairly in the weekly events. 
The Golfing Standards Commission, hearing that there was an increase in golfer discontent, held hearings to find out why golfers were having such difficulty improving their golf score.  Despite the comments from golfers that there were differences in ability, equipment and courses, the Standards Board said that all potential golfers must score 80 or lower, even if they grew up in a community that didn’t have a golf course.
After a couple of years, it seemed that the game no longer had a sense of fairness, especially since the handicapping system was discarded. Most of the more able golfers moved to the better courses (further compounding the average golf scores of the marginal courses) or joined “private” golf courses.  (Interestingly, private golf clubs didn’t have to deal with NGLB regulations nor have to publish their golf scores in the local media.)

After five years, the Golfing Standards Commission issued a statement claiming that there was finally a significant improvement in golf scores and declared the NGLB golfing accountability policy a success.  Their official statement stated:
By having the “round” day and imposing golfing accountability, the annual cycle of poor golf scores is finally being reversed.  By having an emphasis on golfer accountability, we have turned the corner.  The golfers of our nation can be proud of their accomplishments.  We are ranking higher that ever before when we compare our golfer scores to other nationals around the world.

The untold story:
The number of golfers in our nation declined significantly. There were a number of investigations relating to reports that some golf pros form the “good” clubs cheated by manipulating golf scores to make it appear that the average scores at their course were good.  (Like Houston ISD did by adjusting scores and encouraging students to leave school and take the GED.) It appeared that golfing accountability was based on a model used by beef industry  – “test for the best and shoot the rest.” 
As an interesting footnote, during the hearings there was a statement made that NOT ONE decisions about NGLB accountability was based on valid and reliable research about the improvement of golfers.  One of the former golfers testified that it was ironic that the one game that teaches honest, integrity, courtesy and determination as well and planning and risk taking, was now only measuring the number of swings.
By:  Jack McKay, Executive Director
The Horace Mann League of the USA 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts