Ramanathan Draws Lessons from Baseball to Education

July 2016

In an EdSource blog post, Arun Ramanathan, CEO of Pivot Learning Partners, suggests that like the innovative statistical approaches used to measure success in baseball, educators should broaden the measures they use in order to paint a more complete picture of student performance. First, instead of defining academic achievement exclusively by assessment scores in English and mathematics—the baseball equivalent of measuring a player’s value solely by batting average and runs batted in—education can harness the power of more data points—equivalents of metrics like baseball’s OPS (On-base Plus Slugging), WAR (Wins Above Replacement), and BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play)—to develop a more comprehensive and revealing window into student progress. Living in the 21st century also means data is more accessible to the public, a context which Ramanathan views as an opportunity for multiple stakeholders to access and present data in more useful ways than the indicators traditionally developed by the state. Finally, Ramanathan describes the increasing inevitably of data, a reality that should push policymakers to factor in “bottom-up” solutions in domains they once controlled and encourage them to think more creatively about resolving issues of accountability, transparency, and privacy.