Mission to Metrics 3: Beyond GPA & Winning (Sports)

Athletic booster clubs value winning on the field and in the classroom. How can they show it?Stopwatch in Hand

I sometimes question why extracurriculars, particularly athletic programs, feel the need to justify their existence based on participants’ grades. After all, sports teach us how to work with teammates, make friends, adjust strategy on the fly, lose gracefully, and win gracefully. Perhaps that’s why some schools are actually lowering GPA standards for athletes, so as not to alienate struggling students who might benefit from athletic programs.

Still, some booster clubs want to prove that they contribute to academic achievement. This article explores metrics beyond GPA, building on the concepts discussed in “Why Booster Clubs Need Metrics.”

First, skim this summary* of the Page High School Athletic Booster Club bylaws

 Athletic Booster Club Mission Statement

  1. Support athletic and academic excellence in all student athletes

  2. Promote active and involved parent and community leadership

  3. Promote sportsmanship and provide supplementary financial support to the athletic teams.

  4. Have FUN!

What do you see in this mission statement? How does it inform the focus of your own club?

At the beginning of this post, I started writing about #1, particularly the clause about supporting academic excellence. I’m interested in how to measure success in this area, but cautious about using GPA as a metric. Even if academic achievement is part of the mission, GPA might not be the best measure.

First of all, GPA information will probably be aggregated by the school. You’ll have to have their cooperation, and you won’t get individual statistics. So as a metric of academic success, you won’t be able to point to individual students and demonstrate any change in their academic strength. Aggregated GPA data can show some strength in a program, but even then it’s limited. Some college sports programs brag about the graduation rate of their players. Of course, that’s a lagging indicator. It describes achievement from years before, when the students started, not the current situation.

You can, however, ask coaches to keep current, individual statistics on athletic achievements. On its face, it seems obvious that you should communicate these to your donors. But what achievements are the most important? There’s certainly more to it than wins and losses. For example, when I ran track, we really valued setting a new personal best (PB): personal fastest, longest, or highest. It was those achievements, not wins or losses, that we were most proud of. If your mission speaks to students realizing their potential, metrics that measure improvement (as opposed to mere achievement) are useful even for traditional team sports like football or basketball.

In summary, here are a few metrics of athletes that help track performance in academic and athletic excellence:

      • Team aggregate GPA (change over time)
      • Class attendance (change over time)
      • Sport-specific stats (tracked by volunteers or leagues)
      • Personal Bests (PBs)
      • Graduation rates
      • College matriculation
      • Continuation of sports in college
      • Number of league sportsman awards
      • Parent satisfaction survey scores
      • Lack of severe or character-based penalties (red cards, majors, arguing with officials, etc.)
      • Coaching staff retention
      • Press coverage
      • Game attendance

*Each mission statement in this series has been edited for length and clarity, but the message and the order of the points has been preserved.



Speak Your Mind