Per today’s TIME column about the NFL and schools that is linked and described below a lot of great stuff in the Brendan Daly – Tim Daly interview that couldn’t make it into the column because of space. As you watch the game on Sunday, here’s one thing to ponder: What’s education’s equivalent of the playoffs or the Super Bowl in terms of a high-prestige event? A lot of NFL players, especially the marquee players, make less for playing in the postseason than they do for each game 1-16 during the regular season. Yet as Brendan Daly put it, “The playoffs are the ultimate goal. If you talk to the great players and great coaches in this league they’re not motivated by the money they can earn, they’re motivated by being the best they can as an individual and a team. The whole regular and postseason is set up to win a Super Bowl.”
In education we do very little to recognize the best or even differentiate by performance. The measures we have end up being pretty weak soup. Proponents of National Board certification, for example, have gone from touting it as a way to recognize and reward the best to saying it’s more like the CPA exam – a measure that everyone should pass – as the results have show that it’s a relatively weak measure to differentiate excellence.
Here’s Tim Daly:
In the NFL lasting fame and prestige are related to reaching the playoffs and succeeding there. In education there are not the same parallels of gaining esteem for having been part of an outstanding faculty. In many cases prestige is conferred by teaching kids who have high absolute test scores, regardless of whether you’re creating gains. And in the NFL some of the greatest fame is reserved for players who turned around franchises. That’s not the case in education. Instead, we tend to compensate each incremental increase in work in a micro-way. Each incremental unit of time rather than prestige being a value.
A few years ago we were involved in a pilot to reward outstanding teachers. The reaction of the teachers we contacted was not about the money they would get but about the recognition of it. They were more touched by someone taking note of what they were doing than the specific opportunity to participate in this program.
That’s a technical and cultural issue worth thinking about and addressing.
Update: I’m a Redskins guy (though ownership makes it hard these days) but in addition to being grateful to the Rams’ media people for making Brendan Daly available for an interview, I also think Tim Daly is right-on about their improvement in his comment below. But, worth noting, the things Brendan was talking about are not unique to the Rams, these are strategies and methods used across the league.