Florida’s Early Childhood Tests Go Too Far In The Wrong Direction

If you want to see how far into the weeds test-centered schooling can go, then take a trip to Florida, where some folks are worried that four-year-olds are not experiencing enough rigorous testing.

Florida has a vast assortment of voluntary pre-kindergartens (VPK) that can get money form the state if there is sufficient proof that they are getting the job done. That measurement is done by the Star test, a readiness test given in the fall of the kindergarten year. Many states and school systems use a similar test, usually so that kindergarten teachers can get a sense of what they have to work with. But in Florida, the test is also used to measure the effectiveness of the VPK and, in turn, whether it gets paid or not.

There were some extra glitches in the first go-round. See if you can spot the problems with the following sequence:

Fall 2016 till Spring 2017–students attend VPK.

Summer of 2017–State of Florida decides which test to use.

Fall of 2017–students take Star test.

Spring of 2018–state discovers almost half of VPK students did poorly on the test.

There’s the huge gap between the end of VPK and the taking of the test. Three months is 5% of a kindergartner’s life, a long time to remember school things.

More notably, the VPK providers did not know what test their littles would be taking, and so they were unable to prepare their students for that test. But that underlines one other huge problem with this system–we are now expecting four-year-olds to spend part of their days doing test prep. One of the first things we are teaching the littles is how to take a test.

And just in case this doesn’t seem driven all the way into Weedland, note that five-year-olds take the Star assessment on computer. So preparing for the test includes getting four-year-olds comfortable with screens, despite the fact that screen time for littles is, at a minimum, controversial.

Many early childhood education experts had serious misgivings about the Star assessment and its use for this purpose, but once the results came out, opposition became far more vocal. A letter calling on Florida to scrap the Star assessment was co-signed by the United Way of Florida, Florida Head Start Association, The Children’s Forum, the Florida Association for Child Care Management, the Florida Family Child Care Home Association and the Children’s Movement of Florida. Critics are calling for an observation-based assessment that factors in growth, which is essentially the antithesis of the Star test.

Every classroom teacher understands that if the majority of a class flunks your test, the problem is in the test, or you, but not in the students. Florida is in a similar position. If your test is telling you that the majority of littles are not “ready” for kindergarten, then the problem is in your kindergarten or your assessment, but not in your children. As writer and education expert Yong Zhao has suggested, we should not worry about whether our five-year-olds are ready for kindergarten, but ask if kindergarten is ready for our five-year-olds.

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Chatbots Supporting Mental Well-Being: Are We Playing A Dangerous Game?

In recent years, we have noticed the rise of chatbots. The term “ChatterBot” was originally coined by Michael Mauldin to describe these conversational programs. They are supposed to emulate human language and hence pass the Turing Test.

Most recently, chatbots are being designed and targeted to help people with their mental health and well-being. And, there seems to be a crowded market out with several such chatbots popping up and cashing in on the mental wellness drive across the world.

Can chatbots really claim to be ‘wellness coaches’ and ‘mental health gurus’?

Artificial Intelligence has been for many years trying to be more cognizant, more attuned to the nuances of human language. As an Academic, I have been working with technology for over a decade looking at whether even the most intelligent technology can replace human emotions, and claim to be truly “intelligent”.

Mental health is a complex, multi-layered issue. Having suffered from anxiety and depression myself, I know how difficult it is to articulate my feelings even to a trained human being, who can see my facial expressions and hear the nuanced inflections in my voice, or even my body language. My slumped shoulders, the slight frown as I respond “I am ok” to someone asking me how I am, are hints that all is not well, which a chatbot is unlikely to pick up. As a chatbot asks me “Are you stressed”, I feel annoyed already, as that is not something I am likely to respond well to.

Let us also talk about the underlying prejudice and unconscious bias in these AI tools. A chatbot is trained with underlying neural nets and learning algorithms and it will inherit the prejudices of its makers. However, there is a perception that technology is entirely neutral and unbiased, and people are more likely to trust a chatbot than a human being. Bias in AI is not being given adequate attention, especially when such tools are being deployed in a sensitive domain such as tackling mental health or being advertised as a “coach”. In 2016, Microsoft released its AI chatbot Tay onto Twitter. Tay was programmed to learn by interacting with other Twitter users, but it had to be removed within 24 hours because its tweets included pro-Nazi, racist and anti-feminist messages. There are currently no stringent evaluation frameworks within which such chatbots can be tested for their bias, and the developers are not bound legally to openly and transparently talk about their training process of these AI algorithms.

Many of these chatbots are designed around the use of Cognitive Behavioural Theory (CBT). Developed way back in the 1960s, it is a conversational technique designed to support a person through their own emotions and feelings. As I look through some of these chatbots and their marketing materials, and their founders claiming that their chatbots are designed using a very unique and novel technique of CBT, it makes me wonder how much truth is really underlying many of their other claims.

Is it really morally and ethically fair to market these chatbots as “solving a nation’s mental health problem”?

Another area of concern is privacy, data security, and trust. Many of these interactions will have sensitive personal information, that a user might not even be sharing with their very close families and friends. Research has shown that since people know that they are talking to a machine, they have no filter, no fear to be judged, and speak more freely, and therefore might share more than they would be with another human being. There is a lack of transparency, in the marketing and promotional material for such chatbots that not reveal what GDPR regulations are being adhered to, and what happens to the sensitive information that is being stored. Is this being used to train the algorithm for future users, fine-tune the technology, or used for monitoring purposes? Even if the technology platform is being operated from a country outside the European Union, they have to conform to the GDPR regulations if they deal with EU customers. The Cambridge Analytica–Facebook revelations have woken up many more of us to the potential impact of poor data protection policies. In 2014, Samaritans was forced to abandon its Radar Twitter app, designed to read users’ tweets for evidence of suicidal thoughts, after it was accused of breaching the privacy of vulnerable Twitter users.

Research has shown that the behavioral data acquired from the continual tracking of digital activities are sold in the secondary data market and used in algorithms that automatically classify people. These classifications may affect many aspects of life including credit, employment, law enforcement, higher education, and pricing. Due to errors and biases embedded in data and algorithms, the non-medical impact of the classifications may be damaging to those with mental illness who already face stigmatization in society. There are also potential medical risks to patients associated with poor quality online information, self-diagnosis and self-treatment, passive monitoring, and the use of unvalidated smartphone apps. Now that we are seeing a proliferation of these chatbots, this is the time that we need a thorough investigation into whether the availability of these chatbots hinder the possibility of people seeking therapy and counseling.

I am not averse to finding tools and techniques to support our well-being. But, creating a reliance on such technology designed to replace human intervention and making users trust and believe the support they are getting is “emotionally intelligent” is a false promise and something that ought to be actively questioned and discouraged. Technology is not a panacea for mental health problems. When such technology is transparent and is meant as an aid rather than as a means to replace human connection and therapy, then it can be used as a support intervention. If we continue to use AI and chatbots as a solution to the “mental health epidemic”  then we are certainly playing a dangerous game with people’s mental health and well-being.

Ravens and the Eagles Squeeze Through the Door to the Playoffs

Lamar Jackson did not start for the Ravens until Week 11. Nick Foles did not take over the Eagles’ offense until Week 15. But after leading their teams to huge wins on Sunday, both former backup quarterbacks are headed to the playoffs.

And partly as a result of those wins, Kirk Cousins’s season came to an unexpectedly early end and Ben Roethlisberger’s was hanging by a thread Sunday evening.

Week 17 was chaotic by design. The N.F.L. rearranged its schedule to maximize the drama, with the battles for the A.F.C. North and the N.F.C.’s second wild-card slot all happening concurrently, and it delivered thrills, indeed — even if not all the games were entirely close.

When the dust settled after the late-afternoon games, Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens had captured the A.F.C. North by barely hanging on to beat the Cleveland Browns, 26-24. The defending champion Philadelphia Eagles earned a wild-card spot with a 24-0 win over the Washington Redskins combined with the Minnesota Vikings’ 24-10 loss to the Chicago Bears — though Philadelphia’s win came with some worrying news, as Foles left the game in the fourth quarter with a chest injury.

With Pittsburgh beating the Cincinnati Bengals by 16-13, Roethlisberger and the Steelers technically still had one path to the playoffs open on Sunday night, but it required that the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans play to a tie in the late game, which essentially was a play-in game for the A.F.C.’s second wild-card spot.

There were plenty of other consequential results in the regular season’s final weekend Sunday — the Kansas City Chiefs clinched home field advantage throughout the A.F.C. playoffs and the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams both clinched first-round byes — but all of that paled in comparison to the shocking turnarounds for the Ravens and Eagles.

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Jimmy Smith’s interception in the first quarter helped set the tone in a strong effort by the Ravens’ defense.CreditPatrick Smith/Getty Images

Back in Week 9, the Ravens’ season seemed finished. They were 4-5 after a loss to the Steelers, and it was considered a matter of time before Coach John Harbaugh would be fired.

After that game, Roethlisberger, whose team improved to 5-2-1, talked like a quarterback on his way to a Super Bowl.

“We feel that we can do what we want to do,” he said. “We’ve got roadblocks, which are great defenses on other teams, trying to stop us, but we’ve always said — and no disrespect to other teams — they don’t stop us, we stop ourselves.”

Roethlisberger clearly did not see Jackson coming, but, in his defense, neither did Harbaugh.

Peppered with questions the next day as to whether he would stick with Joe Flacco as his quarterback, Harbaugh, who coached Flacco and the Ravens to a win in Super Bowl XLVII, brushed off the inquiries as ridiculous.

“Joe has played well,” Harbaugh insisted, “So I don’t want to get into all of that. We’re rolling right now with what we got.”

Apparently unknown to Harbaugh at the time was the fact that Flacco was nursing a hip injury. He did not throw another pass for Baltimore this season, sitting at first because of the injury and then because of Jackson’s brilliant play.

Jackson, a 21-year-old who was taken with the 32d overall pick in this year’s draft, took over under center and refashioned the team’s offense into something the N.F.L. had not seen in decades. Over the season’s final seven games, he and running back Gus Edwards, also a rookie, led an offense that generated an incredible 1,607 rushing yards (an average of 229.6 a game), outgaining their opponents in that regard by 1,178 yards. Even Michael Vick was questioning the team’s reliance on quarterback runs, but it worked, leading to a 6-1 record and a division title that seemed unimaginable seven weeks ago.

On Sunday it was no different, with Jackson coming out on top against Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, the quarterback who was taken 31 picks before him in the draft. Mayfield’s play this season has given Cleveland plenty of reason for optimism going forward, but Mayfield, who set a rookie record for touchdown passes with 27, was outmatched by Jackson, who had 90 of his team’s 296 rushing yards and threw for another 179.

It was the Ravens’ punishing defense, however, that sealed the win when C.J. Mosely intercepted Mayfield with just under a minute remaining in the game and the Browns creeping toward field-goal range. It was a bookend for the interception Baltimore had snagged on Cleveland’s first offensive drive, and one of three turnovers generated by the defense.

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Nick Foles was forced out of the game with a chest injury in the second half, but he helped lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a win over the Washington Redskins.CreditMark Tenally/Associated Press

Foles and the Eagles had less to be nervous about as they rolled over Washington to earn a playoff berth — at least until the quarterback left the game with an injury.

Like Baltimore, Philadelphia appeared to be doomed after an injury to its starting quarterback this season. The Eagles were 6-7 after a Week 14 loss to Dallas, and shortly afterward it was announced that Carson Wentz would be out indefinitely with a fractured vertebrae in his back.

But just like he did last season in his race to being named Super Bowl M.V.P., Foles seamlessly transitioned into the offense in place of Wentz. He threw for 270 yards in a shocking win over the Rams, and threw for 471 yards and four touchdowns in an even more-stunning win over the Texans. On Sunday he was less spectacular but still passed for 221 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Redskins, though he had to exit with a chest injury in the fourth quarter.

During his postgame news conference, Foles indicated that the extent of the injury had yet to be determined, saying that his ribs were sore and that the team would know more soon. In his absence, Sudfeld, Philadelphia’s third-string quarterback, threw the first touchdown pass of his career.

Even with Sunday’s win, which was powered mostly by Philadelphia’s defense and Washington’s general ineptitude, the Eagles needed help to get into the playoffs — and they got it from the Bears, who limited Cousins to just 132 passing yards in a game in which Chicago was locked into the No. 3 seed in the N.F.C. regardless of the result.

Minnesota’s loss was the conclusion to an uneven season for Cousins and the Vikings. After last year’s appearance in the N.F.C. championship game, Minnesota tried to get to the next level by adding Cousins as a high-priced free agent. Instead, a regression by the team’s defense and an inconsistent effort from Cousins and the offense left them out of the playoffs entirely.

With the final spot in the A.F.C. yet to be determined, here are the other playoff seedings.

A.F.C.

1. Kansas City Chiefs, 12-4, A.F.C. West champions

2. New England Patriots, 11-5, A.F.C. East champions

3. Houston Texans, 11-5, A.F.C. South champions

4. Baltimore Ravens, 10-6, A.F.C. North champions

5. Los Angeles Chargers, 12-4, wild card

6. Colts, Titans or Steelers

N.F.C.

1. New Orleans Saints, 13-3, N.F.C. South champions

2. Los Angeles Rams, 12-4, N.F.C. West champions

3. Chicago Bears, 12-4, N.F.C. North champions

4. Dallas Cowboys, 10-6, N.F.C. East champions

5. Seattle Seahawks, 10-6, wild card

6. Philadelphia Eagles, 9-7, wild card

A.F.C.: Colts/Titans/Steelers at Houston; Chargers at Baltimore

N.F.C.: Eagles at Bears; Seahawks at Cowboys

Cowboys Send Giants to Another Late Loss

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Don’t tell Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys that their regular-season finale against the Giants was a meaningless game.

They played it to the end and got momentum for the playoffs.

Prescott threw a 32-yard fourth-down touchdown pass to Cole Beasley on a play that was reversed by video replay and added a winning 2-point conversion pass to Michael Gallup with 1 minute 12 seconds to play as the Cowboys, the N.F.C. East champions, rallied twice in the final 10 minutes to beat the Giants, 36-35, on Sunday.

“You saw it out there the intensity that we played with, the ups and the downs and how we stayed through it,” Prescott said after going 27 of 44 for 387 yards and a season-high four touchdowns, three to tight end Blake Jarwin. “We stayed positive, knowing we were going to give ourselves a chance to come out on the end. It was a great win.”

The win was the seventh in eight games for the Cowboys, and it had them looking forward to next weekend’s wild-card game at home.

Dallas Coach Jason Garrett played down the idea that the game had been meaningless, even though he rested Ezekiel Elliott, the N.F.L.’s leading rusher, and two of his top offensive linemen.

“That might be for people outside our building, talking about the meaningful or meaningless nature of a game,” Garrett said. “They’re all very meaningful to us. It’s opportunity for us to improve as a football team, to finish strong, to have some momentum going into the playoffs.”

For the Giants (5-11), it was another late loss. They lost eight games by 7 points or fewer in Pat Shurmur’s first season, the last two by a total of 2 points.

This also could have been quarterback Eli Manning’s final start for them after a 15-year career. He has a year left on a four-year contract, but his salary will count against the cap for $23 million next season.

Manning, who is soon to be 38 and is not very mobile, still loves to play, but the Giants have made the playoffs only once since winning the Super Bowl in February 2012.

“The losses hurt, and they are tough to deal with,” said Manning, who went 24 of 41 for 301 yards with two touchdowns. “They are tougher now than in the past because you know your opportunities are running low to make playoffs and championship runs. When you are not doing as well as you want to, it is tough to handle.”

Saquon Barkley capped a record-setting rookie season with a sensational 2-yard touchdown dive with 3:21 to play to put the Giants ahead, 35-28.

However, Prescott engineered a nine-play, 70-yard drive that he ended with an arching pass to Beasley in the back of the end zone. There was no doubt he had caught the ball, and a review showed he had gotten his knee down in bounds.

Speaking of Prescott, Garrett said, “That was as good a play as I’ve ever seen him make, and Beas made a big-time catch at the end of it.” Garrett added that it made no sense to go to overtime with a playoff game next week.

Barkley finished with 109 yards rushing and 142 yards from scrimmage. He ended the season with 91 catches, breaking Reggie Bush’s N.F.L. record (88) for most receptions by a rookie running back. Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick, also finished with 2,028 yards from scrimmage, joining the Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (2,212 yards in 1983) and Edgerrin James (2,139 in 1999) as the only rookies with at least 2,000 yards from scrimmage in N.F.L. history.

Prescott hit Jarwin on scoring passes of 13, 19 and 39 yards. His 49-yard pass set up Rod Smith’s 1-yard touchdown run.

Manning had touchdown passes of 21 yards to Cody Latimer and 6 to Evan Engram, who also caught a pass for a 2-point conversion. Wayne Gallman added a 2-yard touchdown run, and Aldrick Rosas kicked two field goals.

COWBOYS Guard Xavier Su’-a-Filo started with Zack Martin out and was hurt in the third quarter. Wide receiver Tavon Austin, who has been sidelined since Week 6 with a groin injury, returned to action. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch left the field with a lower-leg injury. He said it was minor.

GIANTS Grant Haley, a backup cornerback, left in the first half with a concussion. Wide receiver-returner Corey Coleman sustained a foot injury in the second half.

Elliott won the N.F.L. rushing title with 1,434 yards. Barkley finished second with 1,307, and Todd Gurley, who like Elliott did not play on Sunday, dropped to third with 1,251 yards. Barkley’s 142 yards from scrimmage allowed him to lead the league. Elliott finished second with 2,001, and Christian McCaffrey of the Panthers was third with 1,965.

Blake Jarwin’s touchdown catches were his first three in the N.F.L. … Giants linebacker Olivier Vernon had two and a half sacks and six quarterback hits. … Dallas cornerback Chidobe Awuzie had an end zone interception on the Giants’ opening drive. Dallas’s DeMarcus Lawrence had a strip sack that his fellow lineman Antwaun Woods recovered. … Giants linebacker B. J. Goodson recovered Amari Cooper’s fumble, which had been caused by defensive lineman Kerry Wynn.

Alabama and Clemson Are Putting a Trademark on the Title Game

DALLAS — After their victories in the College Football Playoff semifinals, in which they dominated the competition, Clemson and Alabama will play for the championship in — hey, wait a minute, haven’t we already written this column?

The answer is yes, we have, and more than once. In fact, next Monday, Jan. 7, will be the third national championship game in four seasons between Alabama and Clemson, with the two having split their previous showdowns. Each has a 14-0 record, and the winner of the Jan. 7 game will become the first program in college football’s top tier to win 15 games in a season since, by some measurements, Penn accomplished the feat late in the 19th century.

Making this matchup even more familiar is the fact that the two programs also met in a playoff semifinal just last season. The Crimson Tide beat the Tigers in that game and then went on to defeat Georgia for the title. And Georgia happens to be the one team that gave Alabama a serious challenge this season — in the Southeastern Conference championship game, which the Tide won, 35-28.

All three of these programs are young across the field, meaning they are already amply stocked for the next couple of seasons. In addition, the Alabama and Georgia quarterbacks are sophomores, and Clemson’s is a freshman. And would you like to guess which teams have claimed three of the top five recruiting classes going into February’s national signing day?

They say the N.F.L. is socialism for owners and capitalism for the players, as the owners split much of their revenue while the money that the players make is correlated with their on-field value. As for college football, these days it resembles more of an oligarchy, with only a few teams seemingly in position to win national championships. (As for the players, who are not compensated beyond scholarships and related costs, feel free to supply your own analogy.)

Interested parties, of course, may deny the yawning disparity between the top few programs in college football (into which, on good days, you could also throw Oklahoma and Ohio State) and everyone else.

“We gave up four big plays that we characteristically don’t give up,” Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly said after his team’s 30-3 loss to Clemson at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday. He maintained that the Irish were “capable of moving the football and doing the things necessary to beat this football team.” Actually, maybe not.

Asked why Clemson’s three recent semifinal victories in the playoffs had been so lopsided — the combined score is Clemson 98, Oklahoma/Ohio State/Notre Dame 20 — Tigers Coach Dabo Swinney tried to aw-shucks the question away. “I don’t know,” he responded. “We got our butts beat last year.” (Well, yeah, you played Alabama in that semifinal.)

Indeed, the ultimate competition in college football now seems to be a round robin among three programs who fit within a fairly small geographic radius.

There are several reasons for this. There is, for one thing, a fertile crescent of recruiting that stretches roughly from the Houston area through the Deep South and down Florida’s boot. In college football — as in so many other things — personnel are destiny; that Alabama, Clemson and Georgia are close to this bumper crop of players gives them a distinct advantage. It is no coincidence that 12 of the last 13 national titles were won by teams from the Southeast, and if you throw in Central Florida’s claimed national title last season, it is 13 out of 14.

And recruiting matters perhaps more than ever because of several trends: better high school football, which produces more game-ready freshmen; better college development, which enables more underclassmen to enter the N.F.L.; liberalized transfer rules, which accelerate churn. Colleges are reloading bigger proportions of their rosters every year.

Of the handful of coaches who are best at grabbing the elite players out of high school, no one does it better than Alabama’s Nick Saban. Remember, this is not the N.F.L., where teams are allotted equal numbers of draft picks. In college football, teams can sign 20 or 30 new players every year, and no rule limits them from taking a big chunk of the top group. Alabama has had the highest-ranked recruiting class, according to 247Sports’s composite figures, for nearly every year going back to 2011. The one exception was last year, when the highest rank went to Georgia.

Other teams can break through. Ohio State won the 2014 season national championship. Oklahoma has made the past three semifinals, and it gave Alabama a hard time in the second half of Saturday’s game. Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan could sneak into a playoff and show us that we were underrating the Big Ten. Stanford, which zags in recruiting where everyone else zigs by insisting on high academic standards, is perhaps another Andrew Luck away from big-time contention. Southern California could find its next Pete Carroll.

But for now, the winner of the fourth straight Alabama-Clemson game (counting that semifinal) will be the national champion for the fourth straight year.

As for which of the two will be victorious this time, it is worth remembering that Alabama’s biggest question mark was the health of sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who had to have ankle surgery after an injury in the SEC title game against Georgia. On Saturday, however, he set worriers at statistical ease, going 24 for 27 with 318 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Then again, Tagovailoa’s eye-popping numbers came against one of college football’s weakest defenses. When Tagovailoa has met opposition of Clemson’s caliber, the results have been mixed: 166 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the second half and overtime of last season’s national-title game against Georgia; 164 yards, a touchdown and an interception versus Mississippi State’s top-ranked unit last month. (He fared worse against Georgia this month but was injured for most of the game.)

Meanwhile, Clemson’s quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, has not faced a defense remotely similar to Alabama’s — unless you count going against his own team’s starters in practice. Further, the Tigers’ blowout semifinal victory masked a weaker second half, in which the offense scored just 7 points and went 3 for 8 on third downs.

In other words, the Clemson-Alabama national championship game should be close. Just like the two before it. And the one that may follow this one in the next year or two.

Jets’ Season Ends With a Rout and Questions About Todd Bowles’s Future

No one preached patience more than Todd Bowles did. The Jets’ coach was unflappable in good times and in bad, and he consistently reiterated that his team should focus on building toward the future rather than get caught up in game-to-game results.

But whatever the future holds for the Jets and their rookie quarterback Sam Darnold, it appears that it will not involve Bowles. Multiple reports indicated that the Jets entered their season finale on Sunday planning to fire Bowles regardless of what happened in the game, and a 38-3 loss to the New England Patriots is unlikely to alter those plans.

A subdued Bowles did not try to make any excuses for the loss, or for the poor season, at his postgame news conference. He said he would meet with team executives, just as he does every week, but did not speculate on his future.

“I don’t talk about my job,” he said. “That’s been consistent since I’ve been here.”

The actual result of Sunday’s game was not surprising: After all, a rookie quarterback has never beaten Bill Belichick’s Patriots in Foxborough. But the blowout did allow the Patriots to clinch a first-round bye early in the day, and they could still earn home-field advantage throughout the A.F.C. playoffs depending on results later in the day.

For the Jets, it was just another learning experience in four years of them. Darnold had shown improvement in recent weeks, but he had a day to forget on Sunday, looking especially inept on a strip-sack fumble that was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter. Darnold completed 16 of 28 passes for 167 yards and was thoroughly outplayed by Tom Brady, who at 41 years old finished his 19th regular season by completing 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns.

In what qualified as the most notable highlight of the game, Brady completed the 6,000th pass of his career, joining Drew Brees, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to reach that milestone.

Darnold did not get much help from the Jets’ running game, which generated just 76 yards beyond a 28-yard run by Darnold in the first half, or from its defense, which did not get a turnover and gave up an average of 6 yards per play to the Patriots.

For Bowles, who still has two years left on his contract, the loss dropped his career record with the team to 24-40, making it hard to remember the promising start he had back in 2015.

Bowles came to the Jets with the unenviable task of trying to clean up after the Rex Ryan era. He inherited a team that had gone 4-12 the previous season, and had his first training camp marred by one of his players breaking the jaw of his presumptive starting quarterback, Geno Smith.

Bowles switched to Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, and the team surprised many by winning its first two games, an accomplishment Bowles summed up at the time by saying, “This just tells us we can be 2-14 right now.”

The Jets wrapped up that season with a 10-6 record, but Bowles’s efforts to tamp down expectations proved prescient, as things proceeded to bottom out with consecutive 5-11 seasons before this year’s 4-12 effort.

On Sunday, Bowles argued that the team should be evaluated on more than just its record.

“I wouldn’t say we didn’t show progress,” he said. “We didn’t win games to show progress, but there’s a lot of guys and a lot of people that showed progress in their own right.”

Bowles arrived with a reputation for improving shoddy defenses, but the Jets’ ranking in yards allowed per game fell from 4th in 2015 to 11th in 2016, to 25th in 2017 and was down to 26th coming into Sunday’s game.

That is not to say, however, that there is no promise for the future. Darnold, despite Sunday’s poor effort, has looked like a potential franchise quarterback, and several pieces are in place for the team to blossom with the right leadership. Now the Jets players and fans will just have to wait to see who that leader might be when next season opens.

Premier League Is Left Flat-Footed as New Leader Suddenly Backs Out

The English Premier League, soccer’s leading domestic competition, has been forced to reopen its search for a new leader after announcing that Susanna Dinnage, who was picked to replace the longtime executive chairman Richard Scudamore, had a change of heart.

Dinnage, a senior executive at Discovery Communications, would have instantly become one of the most powerful women in sports had she taken charge of the Premier League. In a short statement released late Sunday, the league gave no reason for Dinnage’s decision.

A nominations committee that had spent months looking for a successor to replace Scudamore, who is leaving at the end of the year after almost two decades, has reconvened and is already talking to candidates, the league said.

The sudden messiness surrounding the search is embarrassing for an organization that prides itself on getting its business done with little fuss. Scudamore and a small team of close advisers built a business that left major rivals in the shade by leveraging English soccer’s global popularity to build a brand known the world over and to generate television revenues — now worth more than 3 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) per season — that have far outstripped rival leagues.

Still, planning for the future hasn’t been easy. Even before Dinnage announced she was reversing course, the league faced a public and media backlash after executives from its 20 clubs agreed to give Scudamore 5 million pounds ($6.4 million) as part of an exit package.

Dinnage, who recently led Animal Planet, one of Discovery’s biggest channels, was a surprising pick when her appointment was announced in November. She had no previous experience in the sports industry but had been described by Bruce Buck, the Chelsea chairman who led the league’s nominations committee, as the “outstanding choice, given her track record in managing complex businesses through transformation and digital disruption.”

Dinnage would have become a rare female voice in men’s soccer, where women in leadership positions continue to be the exception rather than the rule. Instead, Dinnage is expected to stay with Discovery.

The only other female leader of a top-tier soccer league is Nathalie Boy de la Tour, the president of France’s Ligue de Football Professionnel. FIFA, soccer’s governing body, appointed the former United Nations official Fatma Samoura as its secretary general in 2016.

Whoever does take the E.P.L. job in the end will be confronting the challenge of maintaining the league’s collectivist approach at a time when the biggest and most popular soccer teams in Europe are looking to grab a greater slice of the revenues. In November, for example, leaked documents obtained by a consortium of European news media groups showed that some of the continent’s top clubs, including Premier League giants like Manchester United and Liverpool, had been involved in discussions about a possible breakaway competition.

Scudamore’s successor will also have to find ways of of keeping the Premier League prospering if the country follows through on plans to exit the European Union. British soccer leaders, like those from many other industries, have expressed great concern about the impact of Brexit on their operations, with particular wories about player recruitment and television rights sales.

Career Horoscope 2019: When Will My Zodiac Sign Get A Raise?

Can Students Get Out Of ED?

Early Decision (ED) notifications will be released within the next few days, and many students might start to double guess their binding decision.

There are about 450 colleges that have an early decision application, which allows students to submit their material before the regular deadline. Usually, the early deadline will be in the fall or early winter and can have many different advantages. Applying ED can help your top college know that you are serious about attending. Early decision is binding; if you are accepted, you are committed to attending that college.

There are advantages to applying ED. According to U.S. News data, the average ED acceptance rate at the top 20 national liberal arts colleges was 38.8% for the 2016-2017 academic year, versus an 18.8% average general acceptance rate. One of the most competitive colleges in the nation, Duke, admitted 21% of the students that applied ED in 2018, compared to just 6.4% of its regular decision applicants. Students who want to get into highly competitive colleges might find that it is worthwhile to apply early decision.

The rules can be intense for a high college student. Some students will doubt their decision, even when they receive their acceptance letter for ED. As most colleges release their early decision in December, you won’t be able to compare financial offers from other colleges. Because the decision is binding, if you find your perfect college later in your senior year, you might have regrets about getting accepted into your ED college. So what can you do if you change your mind?

What Are The Rules Of ED?

Here are the general rules and timeline of early decision:

  • Apply early – usually in November – to your top choice university.
  • You can only apply to one college early decision. The rest you can apply under early action and regular admission. Note – restrictive early action is not allowed.
  • When you send in your application, you and your parents have to sign an agreement and notify your counselor who must also sign off on the contract. It states that you will agree to attend the college if accepted and offered an adequate financial package.
  • Decisions are sent usually mid-December. If admitted, you must withdraw all other applications.
  • Inform the college of your acceptance and send a nonrefundable deposit well in advance of the usual May 1 “decision day.”

Is ED Legally Binding?

If you do get accepted into a college you applied ED, you are bound by an honor code to attend. Remember, you, your parents and even your guidance counselor signed a contract that stated if you were accepted into the college, you would enroll. However, while you did sign an agreement, it is not legally binding, and there will be no legal ramifications if you do reject the offer. The college cannot force you to attend or hold you legally responsible for the tuition and fees associated with attending. If you do decide to reject the offer due to financial reasons, you won’t have to pay a deposit or owe the college any money. No ED “rules” or honor code is broken, and you are free to attend another college.

One of the main reasons students reject an ED offer is due to financial reasons. Perhaps you were expecting a more substantial scholarship, and it is just not financially viable to go to that college. In that case, let the university know that due to economic reasons it will be a financial struggle to attend the college. Your parent or guardian does not need to show any proof or documentation of financial need. However, if you are able to show financial need, there is a higher chance the college would increase your financial aid offer to make it viable to attend. Remember, the college accepted you and wants you to enroll. Many students mistakenly think that they cannot negotiate their financial award; they are wrong.

How To Negotiate

If the college doesn’t offer you enough money, you can negotiate. The parents/guardians can explain in a letter that they need more financial aid to make attending possible. It is advisable to also set up a meeting with the college. The parents can demonstrate that they need a more significant financial package to make attendance possible. It is also a good idea to go into the meeting already know how much money is needed.

The college can choose to reject, negotiate or accept the parents’ offer. It is now back up to the parents and students if they want to attend. Remember, if you do still choose to reject based on financial reasons, you aren’t breaking any ED “rules.” Also, if the college does not offer any additional financial aid, they will not withdraw your offer of acceptance. The worst that can happen is they say “no.” You are still accepted into the college and able to attend.

Breaking ED For Other Reasons

Backing out of the early decision offer varies depending on the college. Some colleges are much more lenient and accepting of other reasons, whereas others take it much more seriously. Rod Oto, the associate dean of admissions at Carleton College, said that if a student wants to withdraw from an ED offer, he will first try to follow up with them to discover why. Oto said he might call other colleges the student has applied to or the high college counselor. While it isn’t his intention to get every college to withdraw their offers of admittance, he does want to make sure the student knows that Carleton College is not happy. However, the bottom line is that an early decision offer is just a gentleman’s agreement, and the college can’t force you to do anything.

While it might seem far-fetched that colleges will communicate with each other, it is a very real possibility. In 2016, Katharine Fretwell, dean of admission and financial aid at Amherst College, said that her college and about 30 other colleges, share lists of students admitted through early decision. She said that she is likely also to share names of students who were accepted during ED, but choose not to attend to due to financial aid or other reasons. Currently, the Justice Department is investigating this issue of colleges sharing information.

What Happens If You Apply To Two Colleges ED?

You might think you can beat the system by applying to two colleges early decision, but this would backfire on you. Even though ED isn’t legally binding, you are still bound to an honor code that colleges take very seriously. Your high college counselor – who has to sign off on all early decision applicants – might contact the colleges if they see you applying to more than one college ED. Many of the counselors have spent years building up a relationship with the college and having a student break an ED agreement can do damage to that relationship. In addition, if the college were to find out that the student had applied to another college ED, or even restrictive early action, they could call up the other college, and the student might risk losing both acceptances.

Remember, the early decision agreement is not binding, and you can get out if it. No matter what your reasons for reconsidering your early decision acceptance, you need to make sure you are communicating clearly and honestly with both your counselor, family, and the university. It is important to take the decision to apply ED seriously: you are bound by an honor code, and no rules should be broken.