I have a question regarding testings. I was recently a judge at a testing. I having only judged at few testing. A judge who was senor to me to told me to increase the grade I gave student by one level. I'm a very fair and non bias judge who give students get my undivided attention when I am scoring so this did not seem to be a proper thing to do. Also, at testings, and tournaments for that matter, I notice judges on cell phones and looking off into space, not really paying attention to the students being judged. I often wonder how judges even arrive at their grades.
Judging at local testings is very subjective. Judging at national testings is also subjective, but all the judges are highly experienced at judging so there is some continuity in their judgments. Judges at local testings are usually senior students or instructors of the school conducting the testings; sometimes instructors or senior students from regional schools are also included. One difference between local testings and national testings is that at national testings most of the judges do not know the abilities or life circumstances of the students who are testing; they only know what they see standing before them. In an ideal testing, students would only be tested on how well they perform the required skills at the moment; however, in reality, testings are not so simple.
Rank is primarily an indication a students’ class attendance, school participation, and trying to do their best. In general, the longer a student is in training, the higher the rank. School owners need paying students to keep their schools open. If they never promote students, the students will quit and the schools will close. This does not mean that school owners necessarily promote everyone all the time, but this is always a consideration during testing. This aspect of testing is not normally known or understood by students as they progress through the ranks. At a testing, they just see the judges at the head table watching them and except the situation for what it is. Some times, the secondary judges at the table are also unaware of these considerations; usually, only the primary judge, the school owner, is thinking about them.
School owners know, or should know, the personality and life situation of each of their students. They know about the stressful family situations or medical problems of students, about students’ mental or physical limitations, and they have witnessed the efforts the students have put forth in training. Some times a student who comes to class daily and works very hard during training will perform badly at a testing due to being up all night with a sick child. Some times a student who seldom comes to class and, when he or she does come to class, he or she goofs off , and disrupts the class, will perform skillfully at a testing. The school owner may decide that the good student deserves a promotion and that the bad student does not derive a promotion, even though the bad student did well at the testing. Promotion requirements are generally considered the minimum requirements; many other unstated factors are considered for a promotion.
Local testing procedures are pretty much at the discretion of school owners. Some owners just use secondary judges just for show and do not consider their opinions in determining whether to promote students; some give each judge an equal say at whether a student is promoted, but most make their final decision after consideration of the opinions of the judges. Grading and either passing or failing students is a fine line. If you promote everyone, the integrity of the rank system fails and the quality of the students will suffer, but if you do not promote enough of them, they will quit, you will not generate the senior rank you need to help you in the school, and the school may have to close.
When judging a student:
- First compare the student's performance to what a perfect performance should be.
- Then compare it to how well students in past testings have performed.
- Then compare it to how well students at the present testing are performing.
- Then consider how well the student performed considering any mental or physical limitations the student may have.
- And finally, if you are familiar with the student, compare the student's performance to other times you have seen the student perform in testing, tournaments, or in class to evaluate whether the student is performing up to his or her known capabilities.
Discretion is also used at national testings; the national judges consider input from the head instructors of testing students. For example, when the instructor informs the judges that a student has a physical defect that limits his or her abilities, the judges will consider that when making their decisions.
When judging at a testing, you may not agree with the final pass/fail decision, but if you make your best judgment considering everything you know and have learned and presented it to the head judge, then you have done your job. As to something telling you to change your scores, that is not recommended. A senior judge may question your criteria deciding on for the score and recommend you reconsider. If, after consideration, you decide to change the score, that is fine. If you still feel the score was fair and should not be changed, then that too is okay. If you are told to change your scores, then it up to you to decide what you should do. You could change or not change the scores and forget about it, or you could change or not change the scores and inform the head instructor of the situation.
When judges at the official table are not paying attention, they are doing a great disservice to Taekwondo , the school, the students, the parents, and themselves; it shows the judges’ incompetence and disrespect. If the behavior continues, the reputation of the school will suffer and the prestige of the school, its students, and the ranks it bestows will suffer. It is up to the school owner as to what behavior he or she allows or disallows at a judges table. My instructor does not hesitate to chastise any judge immediately when his or her behavior is improper, even if the judge is senior to the instructor. A testing is only as fair and impartial as it appears to its participants. If it appears fair, people may think a testing was fair, even when it was not fair, or they may think a testing was unfair because of the behavior or the judges even when the testing was completely fair and impartial. The bottom line is that the management of a testing is the sole responsibility of the school owner. The school owner controls whether a testing was fair or unfair, competent or incompetent, or respectful or disrespectful.