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It’s report card time. Read it carefully, Dad—then talk to the teacher.

by Robert Docter – 

In Los Angeles County, when you walk into a restaurant, the law requires it to have a big letter grade posted by the door – A – B – C – or – ‘better-look-elsewhere, cause this joints closed.’ The grades are given on the basis of specific criteria by health inspectors.

Well – we’ve been working on a plan of action for the Western Territory for the past nine months – and it’s time to grade our progress.

New Frontier has commissioned the most intelligent person we could find – Major Carol Seiler – to build a model, establish indicators, and assess our progress toward these priorities for “making the future NOW.” Her work is of exceptional quality and lasting value. The grading part is honest, accurate, objective, straight-forward and expressed in motivational ways.

The most important parts of this model, however, are not the grades. What are really valuable are the outcome indicators – all the writing in the boxes on the fourth page of the insert. For the first time we have an evaluation model that will allow corps programs to be assessed on the basis of outcomes. This is brand new. My only concern is that there are no indicators relative to our social work ministry – including outcomes for social service programs that reflect holistic models of ministry.

But have details of this effort sprinkled down to you? What have you heard in your corps or center about this entire process? Has it been discussed in your corps council? New Frontier has printed considerable. Did you read it? You have some responsibilities in this process, too – and one of them is to be informed.

Is this a conversation I have had with you?”
“How we doing?” I ask.
You stare at me, quizzically and probably, will say: “Wha’dja mean?”
I”ll say – “You know – this matter of putting Commissioner Bond’s six priorities into action.”
Probably, you’ll say: “Oh yeah – I read something about that.”
I’ll say — “Well – how do you think we’re doin’ on doin’ that?”
Probably, you’ll say: “Oh … I don’t know – okay, I guess.”
I’ll say – “Yeah!”

Evaluating what we do in this territory does not require re-inventing the wheel. It is not rocket science. All you really have to understand is a little quantum physics.

In the late nineties we worked on a mission for the new century. It had to do with Army-building – with recognizing who we are in light of where we are going and trying to make some course changes to bring things back into focus. It was driven from the top down through the funding process. When the funding ran out, a lot of the new focus expired. Two things stayed. One was a willingness to risk, and the other was a desire to do a little more than tweak the system.

Nobody evaluated the product.

Next, we all worked on visioning – remember? We had a vision for each corps – for each division – and for the territory in general. We printed it on a very attractive brochure. This was a very good process. Corps members that took the challenge seriously actually talked to each other. They looked at the future. They dreamed some dreams, made some suggestions and wrote things down on paper.

Then, in the June following the visioning process, one-third of those corps got new officers, and a lot of that paper got pushed aside.

Finally, we got this small – almost delicate lady from Canada as our new territorial commander. Not too many people knew her. She was an unknown quantity. She didn’t say much for a couple of months – just looked around – asked a lot of questions – got to know people. She put together our mission and our vision and came up with six priorities. Then, she must have said to herself – “It’s time for action,” and she started talking.

Wow – what happened to that small, delicate lady from Canada? She sounded like a sheriff on Main Street. There were no “ifs, ands or buts” – it was all straight-from-the-shoulder – gleaned from our mission and vision – an identification of priorities – a plan for planning how to stem the arterial hemorrhaging.

She gave the speech a year ago, and shortly thereafter many people’s feet began to feel warmer. Now, we have a one-year report. It provides grades for the Territory and reveals the outcome indicators by which the assessment was made.

I teach at a university. We report to students the grades they earn. We go A-F for undergraduates – and A-C for graduate students. These grades may also have plus or minus attached as well. We provide some students the opportunity to earn an I (Incomplete). Some get U – an unsatisfactory grade, usually based on technical factors like not withdrawing from a class in a timely manner.
Here are this professor’s very subjective grades on the effectiveness of our progress to date.

Intention A
Productivity C
Sense of urgency D

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