GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

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GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby Fred Johnson » Wed Oct 12, 2011 4:20 pm

Okay. I'm sort of plugging back in after being on vacation with my bride and then returning to a funeral for a friend of the family. While killing time in the airport, I saw a link to the GTA published and I started reading it. I have not read the whole document yet. I will do that over the next few days. Now I generally like what I've read, but I have many questions. It may be that I've yet to finish reading it or there is a significant change of direction.

In the old version (don't have it with me), there was a statement about troops not being allowed define an attendance percentage for being defined as active. I can still find the reference on the BSA web site. BSA says: "The Scout is not required to attend any certain percentage of activities or outings." http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/GuideforMeritBadgeCounselors/RankAdvanceFAQ.aspx

From what I've read in the new GTA, there is a clear change of tone that this is now okay. Troops can now define an expected attendance percentage. I ask because I've seen it come up in two different troops during committee meetings. Leaders had trouble with scout attendance and wanted to address it by defining an attendance percentage for advancement. BOR's would then review attendance records to see if the scout qualifies for the unit defined advancement percentage.

QUESTION - Can troops now with BSA blessing define expected attendance percentages?

QUESTION - Can you confirm that it's a question of being active during the qualifying time period, such as six months after earning star for life rank? A scout could have satisfactory attendance for six months, then fall away for a year or two. On return, the scout would not need to re-qualify for those attendance percentages. He could go right to his SMC/BOR if the other requirements are completed.

Since it is at the troop discretion, I think our troop will not change. Our troop's approach has been that it's very difficult to complete advancement requirements without being active. Even though we can now add unit expectations, why do it? It only causes scouts to fail. In our troop, if the scout has completed the other advancement requirements ... and is registered and not dismissed from the troop, then the scout is active.

For other troops, it seems that this makes it very advisable for smart leaders and parents to promote quick advancement as scouts may not be able to meet attendance percentages later. A good example is my 17 year old son. He's got 180+ nights of camping with the troop, but has done little in his troop in the last eight months. He doesn't have much else going on. He's just a bit burnt out right now. He's been a life scout for over two years and is suffering high school senior-itis. Luckily, he's a life scout and has his time in. But if he was a star scout, he might (depending on the specific troop) need to re-qualify for "active" even though he has 180+ camping nights.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby Quailman » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:07 pm

Look at the other caveats in that section. A unit must consider whatever other ways the scout is developing emotionally, spritually and physically in his outside endeavors. If he's just burned out and not doing anything else, then yeah, I guess he'd have to start showing up again.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby smtroop168 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:26 pm

Fred Johnson wrote:QUESTION - Can troops now with BSA blessing define expected attendance percentages?

Yes. But the term is "reasonable expectations"

QUESTION - Can you confirm that it's a question of being active during the qualifying time period, such as six months after earning star for life rank? A scout could have satisfactory attendance for six months, then fall away for a year or two. On return, the scout would not need to re-qualify for those attendance percentages. He could go right to his SMC/BOR if the other requirements are completed.

That is also correct. Although "falling away for a year or two is cause for a SMC

Since it is at the troop discretion, I think our troop will not change. Our troop's approach has been that it's very difficult to complete advancement requirements without being active. What's wrong with that? Even though we can now add unit expectations, why do it? It only causes scouts to fail. I don't agree. In our troop, if the scout has completed the other advancement requirements ... and is registered and not dismissed from the troop, then the scout is active.

For other troops, it seems that this makes it very advisable for smart leaders and parents to promote quick advancement as scouts may not be able to meet attendance percentages later. A good example is my 17 year old son. He's got 180+ nights of camping with the troop, but has done little in his troop in the last eight months. He doesn't have much else going on. He's just a bit burnt out right now. He's been a life scout for over two years and is suffering high school senior-itis. Luckily, he's a life scout and has his time in. But if he was a star scout, he might (depending on the specific troop) need to re-qualify for "active" even though he has 180+ camping nights.



This is all about setting "reasonable expectations". This was written because of the number of units who were setting "unreasonable expectations" and driving kids away.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby Fred Johnson » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:09 pm

smtroop168 wrote:This is all about setting "reasonable expectations". This was written because of the number of units who were setting "unreasonable expectations" and driving kids away.


I like the focus on reasonable expectations and I am very encouraged to learn the concern was to address units/leaders who set "unreasonable expectations" and drive kids away. But what is reasonable when it's a unit by unit decision applied to reviewing very different scouts?

Is it like college now? A Eagle Rank is worth four times more from Harvard Troop 123 than from Metro University Troop 321? For our unit, we have no attendance percentage and probably won't change that. For other units, it's 50% of meetings and 50% of camping. For others 67%. Others 75%. Others 75% but attendance is credited only if you are fully uniformed. Others require a written note for absences.

Or is reasonable such that the exact same attendance from one scout is acceptable and from another not acceptable? Maybe one scout passes the attendance percentages and is in football, baseball, track and academic all-stars. Another scout just barely misses the numbers and just fights at to keep up with homework.

My apologies for my nit-picking questions. I very much like the new GTA ... or at least how much I've read. I love the appendix with FAQs. I like the common sense approach. I just need to learn more and I am a bit concerned that "reasonable" to one person is not reasonable to another.
Last edited by Fred Johnson on Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby smtroop168 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:32 pm

This is up to the unit committee and chartered organization to decide. Now that Star and Life BOR rejections are appealable to the council level, it would behoove the councils to get their arms around this asap.

If you look closely at the top of pg 21, units cannot set expectations related to advancement for anything other than level of activity
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby razor_strop » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:04 pm

As long as I'm committee chair and my COR doesn't change, our unit will continue to use the old "active" standard as we consider it reasonable and gives the advantage to the Scout, not the adults setting up additional rules. However, even under the old 'black & white' standard of 'active' units frequently violated the rules; I'm concerned that the current policy gives a green light for units to ignore the 'reasonable expectations' wording just like they ignored the old standards, and now a Scout doesn't have the back up of BSA policy to fight unreasonable issues.

At the end of the day, my sphere of influence is very small. I'll do my best to ensure the troop is there to support the Scout, and not the other way around.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby smtroop168 » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:12 pm

razor_strop wrote:As long as I'm committee chair and my COR doesn't change, our unit will continue to use the old "active" standard as we consider it reasonable and gives the advantage to the Scout, not the adults setting up additional rules. However, even under the old 'black & white' standard of 'active' units frequently violated the rules; I'm concerned that the current policy gives a green light for units to ignore the 'reasonable expectations' wording just like they ignored the old standards, and now a Scout doesn't have the back up of BSA policy to fight unreasonable issues.

At the end of the day, my sphere of influence is very small. I'll do my best to ensure the troop is there to support the Scout, and not the other way around.


Unfortunately if members of units who ignore the rules are okay with that and don't take any action, there is not much this book or any other is going to fix.

I think (I hope) you meant The Scout does have the back up of BSA policy. As painful as it might be but a couple of Star/Life BOR appeals to councils will get the unit under the spotlight on their lack of reason. Also SE need to have some backbone to remove leaders who continue to follow their own rules.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby Fred Johnson » Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:49 pm

smtroop168 wrote:As painful as it might be but a couple of Star/Life BOR appeals to councils will get the unit under the spotlight on their lack of reason.

Painful is the right word. I hope I'd be right minded to take such a correction well. But a unit that needs correction probably won't receive it well. Essentially, a scout who appeals over their own unit is burning a bridge with their unit leadership. That's why it works for Eagle. The scout can be essentially done. For Star/Life, it might result in finding another troop.

smtroop168 wrote:Also SE need to have some backbone to remove leaders who continue to follow their own rules.

Yeah, right. We've just reached the point where you can't re-charter leaders unless the leaders are youth protection trained. But leaders are still not required to be trained in their leadership position. Also, many of our leaders are former military or religious teachers. There's two groups that I could see having very different interpretations of "reasonable".

I just can't see an SE removing a SM for using their own interpretation of "reasonable."

....

Again my apologies if I seem harsh. I very much like the new GTA.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby smtroop168 » Thu Oct 13, 2011 1:07 pm

Fred Johnson wrote:
smtroop168 wrote:As painful as it might be but a couple of Star/Life BOR appeals to councils will get the unit under the spotlight on their lack of reason.

Painful is the right word. I hope I'd be right minded to take such a correction well. But a unit that needs correction probably won't receive it well. Essentially, a scout who appeals over their own unit is burning a bridge with their unit leadership. That's why it works for Eagle. The scout can be essentially done. For Star/Life, it might result in finding another troop.

smtroop168 wrote:Also SE need to have some backbone to remove leaders who continue to follow their own rules.

Yeah, right. We've just reached the point where you can't re-charter leaders unless the leaders are youth protection trained. But leaders are still not required to be trained in their leadership position. Also, many of our leaders are former military or religious teachers. There's two groups that I could see having very different interpretations of "reasonable".

I just can't see an SE removing a SM for using their own interpretation of "reasonable."

....

Again my apologies if I seem harsh. I very much like the new GTA.



It okay...see my first sentence: "Unfortunately if members of units who ignore the rules are okay with that and don't take any action, there is not much this book or any other is going to fix." The GTA allows those who wish to stand up for their kids to do so through a formal process.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby FrankJ » Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:55 pm

The GTA also talks about SeaScouts in the active section. The written requirement for Quartermaster (the eagle equivalent rank) is:

a. Attend at least 75 percent of your ship’s meetings and special activities for 18 months.


So that must be a reasonable standard? If I was arguing for number less than that, I would certainly bring it up as a BSA standard. But then I am a renegade; I don't think you can attach a firm percentage to active.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby Fred Johnson » Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:17 pm

FrankJ wrote:If I was arguing for number less than that, I would certainly bring it up as a BSA standard. But then I am a renegade; I don't think you can attach a firm percentage to active.

Nice catch! I agree. I don't think you can attach a firm percentage to active. It's about the scout challenging himself and growing.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:04 am

If the BSA wanted to attach an exact number to "setting reasonable expectations for attendance and participation" they would have.

Sea Scouts is a specialized program for certain kinds of dedicated young people, so their requirements are different. Boy Scouting is designed for a broader audience. It's ok for Sea Scouts to thin the group with attendance requirements. It's also ok for troops to set expectations, they just have to exercise some responsible flexibility in applying them. If they're shutting out good kids who just happen to have some balance in their lives and do other cool things, then shame on them.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby FrankJ » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:44 am

I hope it was clear that I was not really suggesting 75% (or any other hard number) for the Boy Scouts. :)

From reading the new active requirement though, it's clear that active is suppose to mean something. If the scout does not meet the stated expectation of the troop, the scout needs to provide a convincing explanation that his other activities meets the intention of "active". See mid first column of page 22. It is the tail end of the 3rd alternative.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:02 am

FrankJ wrote:I hope it was clear that I was not really suggesting 75% (or any other hard number) for the Boy Scouts. :)

From reading the new active requirement though, it's clear that active is suppose to mean something. If the scout does not meet the stated expectation of the troop, the scout needs to provide a convincing explanation that his other activities meets the intention of "active". See mid first column of page 22. It is the tail end of the 3rd alternative.


Bingo! it's about the scout taking responsibility for his requirements to be active and properly do his POR not the other way around.

For the Scouting historians (and Scouting Heritage MBCs), the wording from past scout history for both of these fell under the heading of SCOUT PARTICIPATION. The Scout had to "show to the satisfaction of your leaders that you are active in meetings, outdoor activities and service projects of you unit and dependable in your unit obligations"
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby Fred Johnson » Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:03 am

smtroop168 wrote:If the BSA wanted to attach an exact number to "setting reasonable expectations for attendance and participation" they would have.

I'm confused. My original question was does the GTA allow setting unit based attendance percentages. I thought you answered they they could do that as long as it's reasonable. So, naturally the question then becomes what's reasonable. Did I miss something?

FrankJ wrote:I hope it was clear that I was not really suggesting 75% (or any other hard number) for the Boy Scouts. :) ....

You were clear. What I got out of your point is that it's hard to argue 75% is unreasonable when BSA requires it elsewhere.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:15 am

The GTA says :

A unit is allowed of course, to establish expectations acceptable to its chartered organization and unit committee. and

In considering the third test, it is appropriate for units to set reasonable expectations for attendance and
participation.

The word "percentage" is not used but most units will come up with a number they can measure vice we think is reasonable to "show up every now and then or when you want to"
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby FrankJ » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:44 am

It is also easier for the scout and scout parent to understand a number rather than "most". That is where a percentage can be useful.

Much like a typical eagle project will be at least a 100 hours. It not that a 100 hours is required. It is by time your done all requirements that how much time that will typical be in it. It helps to define a scope.

Qualitative metrics define an idea better. Quantitative metrics are easier to understand & write down.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:58 pm

Here's an idea for unit trying to figure out what is reasonable:

Go back through your activity and meeting records and see what the actual attendance percentage was, then you have a point to start your "reasonable" discussion.
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby AquilaNegra2 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:02 pm

FrankJ wrote:The GTA also talks about SeaScouts in the active section. The written requirement for Quartermaster (the eagle equivalent rank) is:
a. Attend at least 75 percent of your ship’s meetings and special activities for 18 months.


So that must be a reasonable standard? If I was arguing for number less than that, I would certainly bring it up as a BSA standard. But then I am a renegade; I don't think you can attach a firm percentage to active.

I guess I'm a renegade, too. Our CC is likely thrilled at the new GTA, and it explains the last letter we received (which includes the 75% number for any POR). I have a 17 y.o., almost-Eagle Scout who is going to have trouble with this. I guess it will only take away Eagle palms, but that's crappy. It appears that it's also going to apply to campouts as far as our troop is concerned. Finding a free weekend in a 17 year old's schedule is like digging for gold. The previous GTA had a specific section detailing that troops should not expect high schoolers to maintain the same attendance. Has this now gone away?
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Re: GTA - Unit defined attendance percentages

Postby smtroop168 » Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:22 pm

AquilaNegra2 wrote: The previous GTA had a specific section detailing that troops should not expect high schoolers to maintain the same attendance. Has this now gone away?


It did? what page?
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