Thursday, October 31, 2013

GRADES: THE HALF TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE HALF TRUTH




            No doubt you, too, received the note from our Athletic Director explaining why Cal football came in 123rd out of 123 schools in Graduation Success Rates (GSR’s).  Over 6 years only 44% of our kids graduated.

            If you are a Cal lover like moi that e-mail has to break your heart.

            I don’t know who wrote the letter the A.D. signed, but the Legalized-laced-letter legitimizing laconic lexicological lamentations left much to be desired (in other words like the previous sentence it obscured more than it cleared up).

            It’s not exactly untrue—but it’s not completely true either.

(If you don’t believe any of the facts below, go to the NCAA website.


            Obfuscation No. 1: “….two of our programs fell short of our standards and expectations….” (Football at 44% and Basketball at 38%).

            Two?  What about women’s softball and women’s basketball?  Men's Soccer, down from 79% to 63% and Men’s Water Polo, down from 69% to 58%?  For Comparison of like programs UCLA Men’s Soccer was 82%--21% higher.  UCLA Men’s Water Polo was 88%--30% higher. 

               Overall, the national average was 81%  Cal graduated 78%.    Can’t we be at least average—I mean we are (were?) The Greatest University in the World, no?

            Though women’s softball hit 57% this year (for a like comparison, UCLA had 100% during the same period), last year the rolling average (of kids who came in over a 4 year period and were given 6 years to graduate.) was 45% (UCLA’s was 92% over the same time frame).  That means that of all the women who entered Cal to play softball from 2002 to 2005 only 45% of them graduated in six years.

                    We shouldn't blame the coaches for this, nor the kids.  Standards are set from the top!

                        According to the way the Feds grade it (FGR--I’ll explain why this is important later) only 31% of the women softballers who entered Cal actually graduated from Cal (over that 6 year period)!

            Are we to deduce that Cal’s approach to Title IX means gender equity translates to equally low standards for men and women?
           
            For three years in a row, Women’s basketball scored a commendable 92% in the GSR’s.  Two years ago we dropped to 83% and last year we came in below the national average at 75%.  (Again, UCLA’s Women’s Basketball team came in at 100% for the same period).

 Couldn’t one conclude that such a downward spiral in GSR’s “fell short of our standards and expectations?” 

            If the A.D. gets to join these women on a trip to China (a great educational experience BTW for the kids) can’t we at least require that they will ALL graduate from Cal?  We are paying for their education after all, to say nothing of the trip.

            Men’s basketball is too difficult an issue to get into today but it needs to be fixed.  Fortunately, one can have confidence that a good man like Mike Montgomery will right the ship—given the proper resources and directions.

            (Also, none of this is on Sonny Dykes.  By all appearances he is trying to improve the academic climate in football).

            Obfuscation No 2:  …since evidence surfaced of declining academic results for these two teams, we have been far from complacent.  We have already begun to see the results of recent corrective actions….

        Some of you may remember that on May 22nd 2012 a tall good lookin’ guy wrote (see www.jeffwarren.com/):

            …the Knight Commission published the rankings of 122 schools based on Graduation Success Rates (GSR’s).

            The greatest public University in the world came in 112 out of 122 schools!”   

            So in the 18 months since our rankings were publicized (it cracks me up that the media has now decided to report on being 123rd—being 112th out of 123 wasn’t noteworthy—but being last is.  I love it—but I digress)—we didn’t improve, we dropped 11 spots to dead last.

            Anyway,   We have already begun to see the results of recent corrective actions….”
 
            How does one not get the irony or simple foolishness of that claim.  This is Alice in Wonderland-speak.

            Obfuscation No 3:  It is important to understand that the recent GSR figures do not suggest that our student-athletes are failing in their class work; rather they are often choosing to pursue other interests, such as a professional athletic career, before meeting their academic requirements to graduate.”

            On the face of it this is quasi-accurate.  Only one problem:  If the kid is both academically and athletically eligible when he or she leaves, the kid is removed from the calculus.  The GSR specifically does NOT count a child who goes to the pros against a school’s graduation rate (FGR does, but more on that below).  Here is the NCAA’s specific language:

            In addition, the GSR will subtract students from the entering cohort who are considered allowable exclusions (i.e., those who either die or become permanently disabled, those who leave the school to join the armed forces, foreign services or attend a church mission), as well as those who would have been academically eligible to compete had they returned to the institution.

            If you don’t believe this is accurate call Maria DeJulio, NCAA Research Contractor, at  913-397-7668, yourself.  I did.  The words are from the NCAA Website and you can look it up.

            This is huge folks.

            Remember, I mentioned the Feds earlier and their FGR (Federal Graduation Rate).  It simply asks whether the student-athletes enrolled at the school graduate within six years. A student-athlete who does not receive a diploma at that institution for whatever reasons, including transferring to another school, will be counted against the institution’s FGR.

            So an athlete who goes to the pros—as long as he’s academically eligible when he left is “allowable exclusion”, and is not counted against the GSR (as suggested in the A.D.’s letter).  He is counted against the FGR.   For the record Cal’s Football FGR for the past two reporting periods was 47% and this past year fell to 39%.

            Obfuscation No 4:  The latest GSR data is based on freshmen who entered school between 2003-06 (this is accurate).  Given this lag in reporting, we were able to identify factors contributing to the decline in academic performance well before the data was released.”

            Again, yes and no.  On a regular basis, the schools are provided with APR (Academic performance ratings) which tell each school whether kids are on track to graduate or not.  So yes, there is lag time, but no—one doesn’t have to wait for the GSR reports to come out.  They know each year how each team is doing—so steps could have been taken to improve academics across the board, starting on day one in 2004 when Sandy was hired by former Chancellor Birgeneau, had he put a focus on it.

                        (I won’t go into APR because it is just to many numbers, but you can Google it and see the numbers by team.  The latest report (on a team by team basis) is dated 6/9/13, so I’m not sure why anyone mentions a “lag” in knowing whether any of our teams were academically in trouble).

            Speaking of the former Chancellor, this is on him.  The buck stops there.  He should have directed his AD to direct the head coach to direct his assistant coaches to direct their entire staff that academic performance is paramount—and anything short of excellence is unacceptable.

            Obfuscation No 5:  By no means should the attention on these two sports detract from the great work by so many of our student-athletes.  We should be proud that four of our teams—women’s lacrosse, women’s tennis, volleyball and women’s water polo had perfect 100 per cent graduation rates, that 16 of 23 measured sports had a GSR of at least 85 percent and that a record nine programs were over 90 percent.

            This is good news, but let’s compare:

            Stanford State had 20 teams at a perfect 100%.  26 teams over 90%, and 2 at 83%).  Not fair, you say:  How about the other major, oversized public University, Michigan.  Michigan had ten  (twice as many as Cal) at a perfect 100% , 19 over 85%,  and 17 over 90%.

            So we are not only NOT excelling, overall at 78% we are below the national average of 81% for all sports.

            Remember, too, that the former Cal footballers who were in the athletic department and lobbying for all around excellence have all been jettisoned—so there is no one to stick up for us.

            Cal is destined to be the finest University in the world.  But on the academic side—in regard to athletics—there is one huge obstacle.  This is a management question—a question of focus and commitment.  A question of priorities.

            Loyal Cal alumni (and parents of future athletes) can only hope the new Chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, changes the culture, sooner than later.

`           We all want the same thing.   First we want to be involved in a program which will help young kids succeed in life and produce good citizens.  Secondly, we want to win.

 Here are some schools that are doing that.  Why can't we follow their example?
1.  Northwestern (97)
2. Rice (95)
3. Boston College (94)
3. Notre Dame (94)
5. Air Force (93)
5. Stanford (93)
7. Duke (92)
8. Boise State (91)
9. Army (89)
10. Miami Fla. (86)
10. Wake Forest (86)

Go Bears,
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70

P.S.  This report should drive you all to drink.  Bruce and Doris stopped by for some Cab yesterday.  Follow their lead if you get up this way.  Happy Halloween.

P.P. S.S.  Full disclosure:  I’m not a professional.  This is a mailing to my friends.  I’ve taken these numbers from web pages on the internet.  If a few numbers or years are off—shoot me—the trend is there and should be obvious for all to see. 

If you are so inclined, please let the Chancellor and A.D. know your thoughts.

            athletic.director@berkeley.edu

P.P.P.S.S.S.
Dinner for Coach Roger Theder
Please mark your calendar for:
Date: November 14, 2013
Time:6:00PM - 10:00PM
Place: Tentatively- Colombo Club 5321 Claremont Ave, Oakland, CA 
Cost:  $22-$35 Per Person -TBD  by November 1, 2013
RSVP
ahmad8233@gmail.com


Jeffrey Earl Warren
James Warren & Son, Inc.
1414 Main St.  St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-2748
(707) 963-7129
jeffearlwarren@gmail.com
www.jeffwarren.com

2 comments:

Avenger said...

Give 'em hell, Jeff. They deserve it. Ms. Barber ought to be ashamed foisting her garbage excuse on us.

John

The Fritch said...

Right on Jeff. Please address next the lack of student support in the stands. I have heard they are "breathalizing" the students in order to enter the stadium? Goodbye tailgating with your parents.