Criteria Reference System Receives Major Makeover

Eric Kitchenmen, Adjudication Coordinator for USBands, has been hard at work with a team of fellow adjudicators, updating the Criteria Reference System, known colloquially as the back of the sheets. To honor their hard work on this project, the USBands Team thought Eric could speak to these changes best.

Why was the decision made to update the sheets? Who contributed to it?

"One of the most frequent complaints we were receiving from directors and adjudicators was about the back of the sheets. The complaints were predominately due to the vagueness of the current sheet. To address this we had a focus group of several adjudicators who commented on their caption of expertise. The result of their input is this new sheet which will assist both adjudicators and ensemble directors in understanding their scores, rankings and ratings. We wanted to create a stronger tool for the adjudicators to see very clearly the criteria for the corresponding scores. Adjudicators will be able to dig deeper when evaluating ensembles."

What do these changes mean for directors?

"A better understanding of the scoring system and clearer communication. We wanted a clear explanation of the scores so directors could see why their ensemble received a particular score and what they need to focus on to improve their score. The new sheet also creates a common language for the critique process, making commentary from an adjudicator easier to follow.” 

So, will groups be able to better understand A Class vs Open Class?

"Yes, the differences are clearer: “A Class” refers to ensembles with basic to intermediate skills while “Open Class” describes ensembles with intermediate to advance skills. We will have six sheets split across the two classes for assessing: individual music, ensemble music, visual, overall effect, color guard, and percussion. With this level of detail, directors will know the expectations to be successful in their class. We now have listed details to be used as points of comparison instead of having only one word like always, sometimes, often, etc."

Do you expect to make more changes to the sheets?

"This is a work in progress. Any additional changes will be a collective effort from band directors and adjudicators. Moving forward the Advisory Board will also have oversight over the criteria."

USBands is excited to begin the immediate use of the new Criteria Reference System sheets. The completion of this project is the achievement of another milestone in USBands’ three-year strategic plan.

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