Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Aaron Rodgers Story

By Noah Geisel

I’m watching an ESPN profile on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If you’ve listened to five minutes of sports talk radio in the last month, then you know people are talking about his season as one of the best played by any quarterback, ever.

One thing that is striking about the story is how it relates to assessment. In the big money, high-stakes world of college football, a lot of work goes into evaluating young men and their potential. Expert scouting begins as early as 14-years-old. As a teacher, this sounds familiar.

At the beginning of the profile, the reporter talks about Rodgers’ dream of playing for Bobby Bowden at Florida State, and how the assessments of his abilities missed the mark: “Florida State did not want Rogers. Nor did any other Division I school.” A guy with a 1300 SAT who would go on to be a 1st Round Draft pick and NFL superstar launched his collegiate career at Butte Community College.

When asked why he believes he was overlooked, Rodgers responds, “Far too much weight is put into your height, your weight, your ‘40’, your bench press. The things you can’t measure: your character, your confidence, your mental toughness, your physical toughness, not as much weight is put into that.” Again, this sounds familiar to educators.

The Aaron Rodgers story is yet another reminder of why we educators need to be implementing in our classes (and pushing for system-wide) assessments that seek to measure the important skills that we know are essential for 21st Century success. We work in a world of high-stakes testing that primarily focuses on evaluating students based on multiple-choice, knowledge-based questions. Certainly, there is a place for assuring that our students have acquired the desired knowledge in our classes but with the weight that is placed on district benchmark exams, statewide assessments and even national exams, we need to be evangelists for the importance of measuring not only what students know but what they are able to do as well.


  1. One of my favorite articles by one of my favorite authors. Similar theme: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/12/15/081215fa_fact_gladwell PJ

  2. I totally agree. There is a race among scouters in professional football to find those players who exhibit those intangible but priceless values. Certain teams have a knack for picking great first round picks. Other teams are terrible. I think the difference in those General Managers who "get it' that there's more to a player than the football equivalent of SAT scores.

  3. what if all we really need to focus on is how to self assess...?

    great story Noah.. thank you.


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