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Your problems with JTE


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I am curious.¬† I see people here complain about JTE, but it is rarely about specific things.¬† What are your complaints about the program?¬† ¬†Is it the targets themselves? Is gold too easy or too hard? Are you still bitter it isn't silver at the top ūüėČ?¬†

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There are JTE points for having patrols and having PLC meeting, but no points for patrols doing anything as patrols, for patrol leaders making any decisions, for the leaders - Scouts - being elected,

Because brutal honesty is so unseemly these days.

My sole complaint is that it is an attempt to measure quality in an objective manner by using quantifiable metrics. Excellence is a term of quality not quantity, so using numerical metrics can only, b

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My sole complaint is that it is an attempt to measure quality in an objective manner by using quantifiable metrics. Excellence is a term of quality not quantity, so using numerical metrics can only, by definition, objectively state quantity. Quality is much much more subjective and can only be expressed as descriptors, not numbers.

It is unfortunate that in recent decades subjective analysis using qualitative data has been relegated to such an inferior position as its cousin, objective analysis using quantitative data. Subjective analysis is not merely "one's opinion" as it is often referred in an attempt to dismiss it. Not everything that matters is measureable.

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It's the targets.  

In short - JTE in is present form is too quantitative.  Recruit N new scouts, send Y scouts to summer camp.  It almost entirely ignore methods like Scout led & patrol method.  This in turn creates a perception that adult led troops that are focused on numbers and metrics are more important than the quality of the program in those troops.

This all creates a perception of what a quality troop is that runs contrary to why most people became volunteers.  Most of us didn't become volunteers to worry about growth charts and retention rates.  We became volunteers to focus on delivering outstanding programs to youth.  That relatively little in JTE reinforces that (save retention rate and camping rate), it's become somewhat of a joke to many.  Very few units use JTE in a meaningful way.  Most gold troops achieve gold because they are great troops already.

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23 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

It's the targets.  

In short - JTE in is present form is too quantitative.  Recruit N new scouts, send Y scouts to summer camp.  It almost entirely ignore methods like Scout led & patrol method.  This in turn creates a perception that adult led troops that are focused on numbers and metrics are more important than the quality of the program in those troops.

This all creates a perception of what a quality troop is that runs contrary to why most people became volunteers.  Most of us didn't become volunteers to worry about growth charts and retention rates.  We became volunteers to focus on delivering outstanding programs to youth.  That relatively little in JTE reinforces that (save retention rate and camping rate), it's become somewhat of a joke to many.  Very few units use JTE in a meaningful way.  Most gold troops achieve gold because they are great troops already.

That's the idea! Again, I don't think already great troops are the target for JTE.  I think that the idea with the numbers is to put a measurable (because it is supposed to be consistent) score on good practices.  

Here is how I think these goals are supposed to be read:

1. Planning and Budget: Good troops will make a plan, involve the youth, and have an active committee to support that plan.
2. Building Scouting: Good troops will grow. 
3. Retention:  Scouts will stay in a good troop (and age out).
4. Webelos-to-Scout: Good troops will provide the next step for graduating cub scouts (I'll admit, I think the specific goals are off here).
5.  Advancement: A good scout program provides most of its scouts the opportunity (which they will take) to advance each year.  
6. Short-term camping: A Good scout program camps frequently
7. Long term camping: Long term camping provides a great opportunity for scouts and they should be encouraged to participate.
8. Service projects: A Good troop serves its community
9. Patrol Method: A good troop has patrols, leadership that is trained, and an active PLC
10:  Leadership and family engagement:  Good troops involve those outside the minimum required adults. (I actually don't agree with the numbers here either). 
11: Trained leadership: Troop leadership should be trained and seeking higher training. 

 

I don't know how you assess "scout led" objectively.  The problem with non-objective measures is who assess them.  There is no way to be consistent with subjective things across the nation.  

How would you change JTE to help it assess the things you think it falls short on?

 

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Things not to like about JTE? Well my pet peeve is high score gets gold instead of silver. :mad:

I guess the other is: everybody gets a trophy.

Instead, lets take a que from Sea Scouts and have a National Flagtroop every month. Heck, we could even have regional, area, council, and district flagtroops.

 

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1 hour ago, mds3d said:

That's the idea! Again, I don't think already great troops are the target for JTE.  I think that the idea with the numbers is to put a measurable (because it is supposed to be consistent) score on good practices.  

Here is how I think these goals are supposed to be read:

1. Planning and Budget: Good troops will make a plan, involve the youth, and have an active committee to support that plan.
2. Building Scouting: Good troops will grow. 
3. Retention:  Scouts will stay in a good troop (and age out).
4. Webelos-to-Scout: Good troops will provide the next step for graduating cub scouts (I'll admit, I think the specific goals are off here).
5.  Advancement: A good scout program provides most of its scouts the opportunity (which they will take) to advance each year.  
6. Short-term camping: A Good scout program camps frequently
7. Long term camping: Long term camping provides a great opportunity for scouts and they should be encouraged to participate.
8. Service projects: A Good troop serves its community
9. Patrol Method: A good troop has patrols, leadership that is trained, and an active PLC
10:  Leadership and family engagement:  Good troops involve those outside the minimum required adults. (I actually don't agree with the numbers here either). 
11: Trained leadership: Troop leadership should be trained and seeking higher training. 

 

I don't know how you assess "scout led" objectively.  The problem with non-objective measures is who assess them.  There is no way to be consistent with subjective things across the nation.  

How would you change JTE to help it assess the things you think it falls short on?

 

If I read through the entire JTE list and extract all the program items, it looks something like:

1. Planning and Budgeting: Have a planning meeting involving youth
2. Building Scouting: no program items
3. Retention: no program items 
4. Webelos-to-Scout: no program items (OK, you have to encourage someone to be a den chief)
5. Advancement: Scouts advance in rank every year.
6. Short-term camping: Hold 9 short term camping trips
7. Long-term camping: Encourage scouts to attend a council summer camp or national HA base
8. Service projects: Add service projects to your program
9. Patrol method: Have patrols, an SPL, hold PLC meetings, send someone to NYLT
10. Leadership & family engagement: Hold 3 COH
11. Trained leadership: no program items
 

So basically, JTE's contribution to the troop program is: have a planning meeting, have Scouts rank up every year, camp 9 times, go to summer camp, have some service projects, have patrols, have PLC meetings, have 3 COH.

The rest are committee things - budgets, recruiting, retention, training, volunteers.  These are important - but they are not program.

JTE needs to improve the program related goals and make them things that count.  It's not a question of how often you camp, it's a question of where yo go, who selects the location, and who plans the event.  Holding PLC meetings is good, but how the PLC leads the troop is even better.

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9 hours ago, ParkMan said:

JTE needs to improve the program related goals and make them things that count.¬† It's not a question of how often you camp, it's a question of where yo go, who selects the location, and who plans the event.¬† Holding PLC meetings is good, but how the PLC leads the troop is even better.ÔĽŅÔĽŅ

Not that I disagree, but there is a tradeoff in making JTE more comprehensive such that it becomes too cumbersome to track. 

I see JTE as at best a way for poorly performing units to get some insights into why they aren't performing well. 

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I guess my issue or heartburn with JTE is that it reaks of corporate culture hamstrung into a youth program.

JTE is really just KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) warmed over and put into a format for units..  In business and in working with contractors and remotes sites you have KPI's.  How long to get stock received, inventory accuracy, turnover, time to get orders out, accidents (technically lack of accidents hopefully) etc etc.  This give the managers objective and consistent measurements to see how the process is working.  Note that these are in fact NOT self reported but typically pulled from the system(s) governing the operations and can assist to make improvements.  The data drives the results reported (KPI's) and then actions are taken as these are reviewed.

The JTE "scorecard" should record and reflect the subjective measurements of how a troop is functioning.  That is the hard part, it needs to be subjective as Scouts are not cartons going across a dock or an item picked from a bin.  So BSA National took the easy route and quantified it so it was all nice and tidy.

The Short Term camping "goal" is a great example.  Are all outings created equal?  Well that is a great debate.  If the Scouts choose where to go, plan their menus, plan the activities, etc that is an outing.  If the leaders tell the Scouts where they are going and what they will be doing, that is also an outing.  If you camp 2 nights or only 1 night on a weekend, is one outing better than the other?  Car camping or hiking?  Stay on a ship or do a lock-in...are those "outings".

Not sure what the solution may be, but the scorecard and numbers are likely not the best method.

 

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I think JTE is fine, it is helpful to hold units accountable at some level.  And lets be honest, how many units really care about what level they get?

I would like to see it more like Sea Scouts.  We have a National Flagship program that the Ships submit a very comprehensive yearly review of their program (the youth do it , not the adults).  They select a top Ship and a small set of other runner-ups.  JTE is adult run and doesn't have information, National flagship is much more comprehensive.  The youth see where they are doing well and not doing well, so they get the adults to do their jobs.

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My experience with the JTE is that while it can be a good checklist to evaluate the program, it also encourages fudging to reach a passing grade. The challenge is using JTE as educational without ranking the program on a pass/fail scale. The Tour Permit (that isn't used anymore) was a good checklist for guiding units without ranking (judge) the unit. It simply gave a minimal list for traveling and perform scouting activities safely. I have watched unit leaders spend hours trying to justify passing on FTEs.

Barry

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I feel JTE is good for new units, or units with newer inexperienced adults, as a baseline structure of how to get a unit performing.  However, I don't find "standardized tests" as something to repeat year-over-year, so I'm not beholden to it.  Our Crew is Bronze, and we are perfectly fine with that "measurement", and frankly we wouldn't have even cared to have that designation, but the JTE form was required for us to submit before Council would process our charter for next year.

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16 hours ago, mds3d said:

That's the idea! Again, I don't think already great troops are the target for JTE.  I think that the idea with the numbers is to put a measurable (because it is supposed to be consistent) score on good practices.  

Here is how I think these goals are supposed to be read:

1. Planning and Budget: Good troops will make a plan, involve the youth, and have an active committee to support that plan.
2. Building Scouting: Good troops will grow. 
3. Retention:  Scouts will stay in a good troop (and age out).
4. Webelos-to-Scout: Good troops will provide the next step for graduating cub scouts (I'll admit, I think the specific goals are off here).
5.  Advancement: A good scout program provides most of its scouts the opportunity (which they will take) to advance each year.  
6. Short-term camping: A Good scout program camps frequently
7. Long term camping: Long term camping provides a great opportunity for scouts and they should be encouraged to participate.
8. Service projects: A Good troop serves its community
9. Patrol Method: A good troop has patrols, leadership that is trained, and an active PLC
10:  Leadership and family engagement:  Good troops involve those outside the minimum required adults. (I actually don't agree with the numbers here either). 
11: Trained leadership: Troop leadership should be trained and seeking higher training. 

 

I don't know how you assess "scout led" objectively.  The problem with non-objective measures is who assess them.  There is no way to be consistent with subjective things across the nation.  

How would you change JTE to help it assess the things you think it falls short on?

 

You asked the question, and now appear to be defending the JTE instead of taking our analysis into consideration. If I am mischaracterizing your response, I apologize.

To some of your comments: Subjective, non-measureables can be consistent. It requires significantly more time, and effort.  As I mentioned before, using descriptors instead of numbers. Just because something is measureable does not mean a higher number is a reference of quality(excellence).  That is how I would change the JTE. 

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I don't believe its "competitive" enough, my troop which I have expressed on many occasions are extremely lazy however my son's troop is very active and camps monthly along with actually having scheduled PLC meetings that are NOT on the same night as a regular meeting which adds a level of commitment in my eyes.

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"Scout led" is part of the Patrol Method, not a method in itself. 

Because adults are supposed to lead by influence, not directly, except in matters of safety, judgment is involved.  More or less influence can be had.  Still:  A standard can be taught; hewing to that standard could be taught; hewing to that standard could be recognized; ignoring that standard could be commented upon.  BSA does none of those things except accidentally.

Some adult(s) notice and are influenced by the scattered remnants of Scouting still mentioned randomly by a very few at BSA and by local leadership. 

As noted above, JTM does not encourage actual USE of the Patrol Method.  No points are given for anything happening in the patrol or any leadership by the Patrol Leaders' Council or SPL.

I agree with others that this is  not the result of any thought process leading to deliberate  abandonment of Scouting.  Those in charge simply don't know what Scouting is, as defined by its giants, and dismiss "traditional Scouting" as obsolete, having no idea what it is.

 

What could be done with JTM to cause it to encourage Scouting?

Journey Towards Standard (REVISED)

Category: Use the Patrol Method

 Level 1 - Tenderfoot.

The troop has one or more patrols, and each patrol has an patrol leader elected by the Scouts of the respective patrol.  If the troop has more than one than one patrol, there is a Senior Patrol Leader elected by the Scouts, who appoints Scouts to fill other troop leadership positions, such as Quartermaster, and who leads the troop's activities. The Patrol Leaders Council  meets at least four times a year, chaired by the Senior Patrol Leader, who may vote in its deliberations, and produces written program plans for troop activities.  Each patrol meets separately at least ten time a year. Each patrol has a patrol flag.  Every member of each patrol has a position in that patrol, such as Scribe or Grub Master, duties to be determined by the respective patrol leader.

Level 2 - Second Class

Achieve Level 1, plus, PLC meets a total of at least six times a year and produces written plans for troop activities. The troop conducts leader training for patrol leaders, the Senior Patrol Leader, and appointed troop leaders.  Each patrol has at least six independent  activities each per year (hikes, campouts; service projects).  Most troop meeting time is devoted to activities of the Scouts as patrols: learning, preparing, contests, fun.

Level 3 - First Class.  Achieve Level 2, plus, PLC meets a total of at least ten times a year and produces written plans for troop activities.  The PLC produces an written annual program and the SPL presents that program to the Troop Committee and asks for the Committee's support. Each patrol has at least six additional independent activities (for a total of ten each)(hikes, campouts; service projects).   At least one Scout has attended an advanced training course, such as NYLT,  National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience,  Powder Horn, or The Kodiak Challenge.

 

Each troop attaining Level 3 will receive a flag ribbon for each patrol flag bearing the words, "Scout Patrol," with the year awarded, and a flag ribbon for the troop's flag bearing the words "Scout Troop, with the year awarded.)  Those troops so recognized shall have their unit numbers published in an annual "Patrol Method Honors List."

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As I see it, there are really only a few constituencies that matter: the Scouts, the parents, the volunteers, and the chartered org.  I expect that none of them care about JTE.  So, for a great many Scouters, there's a big question of why even bother?  So you recharter but don't do JTE - so what?

It's a truism that a unit that sets some goals and works at them will improve.  As JTE is a way to help set goals, then it has value.  But, experience has shown that relatively few units really use it to set any goals.  It's written for people who are comfortable bringing some organization and planning to Scouting.  Odds are that those folks are already involved in successful units.  The trick is that it becomes a tool for the struggling units - for those folks I just don't believe it's proscriptive enough to be useful.  

To me, the relevant question becomes - what's the most effective way for the BSA to encourage a struggling unit to set goals and prosper.  I don't think it's a bureaucratic form.  My hunch is that it's the BSA having people who can work collaboratively with the units to set goals and succeed.  Simply passing them a checklist and saying "go succeed" is wishful thinking.

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