MBA Research
Not-for-profit, research-based support for all Business Administration educators: entrepreneurship, finance, hospitality, management/administration, and marketing.
Donate

All of MBA Research research data, along with the Consortium’s entire range of services, are available to all Career-Tech student organizations (CTSO) serving Business Administration students.  That said, DECA has been the most proactive of the three most recognized CTSOs in its efforts to align with the national Business Administration curriculum standards and to utilize the Consortium’s R&D capabilities.

DECA’s competitive events programs are anchored by the national standards and are designed to take advantage of the MBA Research curriculum framework that recognizes the common Business Administration core standards, plus various degrees of specialization in entrepreneurship, finance, hospitality, management, and marketing. 

Most DECA competitive events utilize a variety of assessment techniques that include traditional multiple-choice exams as well as various role plays and examples of student work.   All exams used by DECA are developed by MBA Research and licensed for use by DECA.  District and state-level exams are available as hard copy through DECA, Inc. or may be administered online using services provided directly by MBA Research.  

MBA Research instructional tools, particularly LAP modules and the MBA Learning Center (online), provide strong support for students preparing to compete in DECA competitive events.  Both tools, plus various MBA Research assessments, are 100% anchored by the national Business Administration standards.  

MBA staff have served in various consulting roles with DECA for many years.  Most notably, our CEO has served in a continuing role as an advisor to DECA’s competitive events initiatives.  Conversely, DECA’s Executive Director has made similar contributions to the MBA Research programs, most recently as a member of the task force developing the MBA Research National High School Business Administration Accreditation program.

NOTE:  All DECA advisors in member states are eligible for member pricing on all products and services.

Jim Gleason, Ph.D.

Compete with whom? For what?
One of the best things about DECA’s competitive events program is that we really don’t have to answer these questions. Since the events are increasingly aligned with the real world, we can legitimately claim that we’re preparing students to compete in DECA, and to compete in the real world—for a job, or a promotion, for a place in college, or for operating their own business in a very competitive environment.

Better yet, all five keys work to help students compete in many different venues!

1. Curriculum alignment: Yes, we all know that when you close the door, you teach what you want. Sometimes the decision is based on what we like or what we know best. Often, our students influence curriculum decisions. But, the bottom line is that the more closely our individual programs of study are aligned with the national standards, the better prepared our students will be.

Why? Because the standards were built through industry research. They reflect what business leaders believe is important. DECA’s events are based on these same standards. Bottom line: When you align your curriculum with the same learning outcomes expected by business and by DECA, your students win in both settings.

Tip: The national standards are available free to all marketing and business teachers. Visit the Curriculum & Teaching section of our web site.

2. In-depth instruction: With short attention spans getting shorter by the day, it’s always tempting to “keep moving.” By changing the topic of instruction every few hours (or minutes), we can sometimes keep kids from drifting too far. But the trade-off is that our students leave our classes with only cursory ideas of critical learning outcomes. They enjoy the class, but leave without the key skills that will soon be critical to their successes.

Teachers who find ways to keep students interested as they push for depth of instruction and actual student performance are almost always rewarded with more successful students. Years ago we proved the value of in-depth instruction through a series of “model programs” in some 40 high schools. It works!

Tip: We created our LAP modules specifically to help you reach a depth of instruction that will pay off for students. But remember, for maximum value, it’s not enough to “cover the LAP.” You really do need to demand that your students master the material.

3.  Regular assessment:  Frequent testing (any kind that addresses the curriculum) accomplishes several things. First, testing suggests that you’re serious about expecting learning to occur. It clearly says to students that they will be accountable for the content. Second, testing encourages students to focus on the material that matters most. And, third, it reduces the pressure of big, infrequent exams.

Again, we learned with our model programs that weekly testing—coupled with specific policies that required students to pass all tests to earn a passing grade—resulted in greatly improved performance. Even if the weekly quiz is only 5 or 10 items, it leads to more positive learning outcomes.

Tip: A critical consideration in developing a test or quiz is to be certain that the questions are congruent with the curriculum. In other words, be sure that your test items really address the content and the specific performance indicator it represents. We provide two fully congruent exams in each LAP, and we provide access to many other test items that are anchored by research-based indicators. Our DECA exams are one of many examples.

4.  Emotional intelligence: Although the topic covers a lot of ground, it’s critical to your students’ successes. You may need to teach the basics, or you may simply need to reinforce basic EI concepts and skills each day in class. As students learn to behave as adults when among adults, they dramatically improve their competitiveness. Kids are kids, but it’s part of our responsibility to help them learn to interact with the business community. We already do it quite well, but with all the focus on testing, it’s easy to lose some of what we do with these soft skills.

Tip: Design projects and activities that require students to interact with the adult business community. Help them build interpersonal skills based on the expectations of those who write the check. Fortunately, these are the same people who are likely to be across the table during DECA competitive events. Visit our online store sorted by the emotional intelligence category to locate helpful resources to support your teaching.

5.  Practice under pressure: All the false bravado of teen behavior aside, most of your students enter competitive situations in a high state of stress. Proving to adults that you actually know something is a tough assignment at age 16 or 17. (It’s tough enough 20 years later!) Even though you don’t know the specific details of the interview or the role play, students who’ve been through the drill will always do better on the actual day of reckoning.

Tip: Begin by having them role play with you or someone they’re comfortable with. Advance to interacting with individual students, then to demonstrations in front of the entire class. As they mature and begin to understand your expectations, move to interactions with school personnel: other teachers, counselors, and administrators. Finally, get them into the business community for more practice. They’ll still be nervous on the day of competition, but they’ll be far more confident than most of the students with whom they’ll be competing. (You may find some of our rubrics useful for evaluating student performance. Available in our store or free to member states in State's Connection.)

6.  Bonus key:  Get yourself prepared to help your students. Be sure you understand the national standards, spend time in the business community, keep abreast of changes in marketing education and DECA. You teach a dynamic, ever-changing curriculum. And, you teach in a field that is undergoing radical change. Be sure you know what’s up.

Tip: Get connected via our free online newsletter. Register for Perspectives: Marketing Education. And, be sure to plan now to join us for this year’s Conclave. Your colleagues are second to none when it comes to hosting an exciting, fun, demanding professional development conference.

Outcomes:
Use these six keys and plan to travel! Come say hello during DECA’s International Career Development Conference this spring.

Who’s Jim?
Jim Gleason is President/CEO of MBA Research. He’s a former high school marketing teacher where he advised a very active DECA chapter. His students’ successes in DECA, including many state and national awards, were driven in large part by the five keys above.

Are you thinking about going to online testing?

Comprehensive exams based on the nationally validated Business Administration standards are available in two formats. The online exams are offered through MBAResearch. Paper versions of the competitive-events exam are available through National DECA. Although both versions use identical specifications (blueprints), the actual questions vary. The online exams delivered by MBAResearch use a sophisticated software package called WebXam, which is designed for high-stakes testing.

The online assessment system offers several significant advantages:

  • Maximum Security: The only complete copies of any online exam exist only in the servers used to create and deliver them. No individual outside of our offices has access to the exams at any time. Computers used by test takers access only one item at a time. That item is overwritten by the next item each time a student submits an answer. Assuming that the state or province’s testing process requires a proctor, a very high level of security is maintained.
  • Immediate Reporting: Assessment data are instantly available to all authorized administrators. Standardized reports are provided in the form of spreadsheets. In addition, data may be directly downloaded into existing data systems or into customized spreadsheet or database structures. Our technical support staff members are happy to facilitate the process.
  • Use of Data: In this age of accountability (Perkins, etc.), assessment data are a particularly important aspect of adding value to your DECA activities. Use of our online assessment system allows us to provide specific information about student success, strengths and weaknesses of student learning, insight into curriculum alignment (by school, district/region, or state/province), and other information that will over time help us provide hard, quantifiable data invaluable to documenting learning outcomes associated with the DECA competitive events program.
  • Ability to Monitor Trends: In 2011, the MBAResearch online assessment center started using benchmark scores that will be comparable from year-to-year. Therefore, we will be able to document trends as advisors and students work to better align curricula with the national standards. Both overall trends and those associated with specific standards (e.g., economics, selling, or promotion) will be available in future years.
  • Operational Flexibility and Efficiency: Secure online testing provides specific advantages for the administration and operation of the overall competitive events program. Since testing can be completed at any time in any location, many states separate the testing from the conference itself. This opens time that may be used for leadership-development activities, frees advisors from test proctoring during the conference, eliminates all aspects of the on-site testing process (scoring, tabulating, etc.), and reduces concerns about security. Several states have (or are considering) reducing the length of their conference, thereby saving on hotel costs and reducing out-of-class time. There are, of course, no issues or costs associated with duplication and security of hard-copy exams.
  • You control the process: Each state/province can decide how to control access to the online system. You determine the testing windows, as well as who registers and activates student accounts. You also determine how to save test results and set the rules for proctors. You can use proctoring procedures similar to those we use for A*S*K exams, or you can design your own.


Related Links

Online Assessment Basics and Technical Requirements
Overview of the Online Assessment Process
Available Exams, Pricing, and Fees
FAQs
Glossary of Online Assessment Terms
Contact Information
Contact Request Form
State/provincial administrator checklist
Local/school administrator checklist (Word format)
Local/school administrator checklist (PDF format)

DECA currently uses six different exams for its competitive events. Please keep in mind that each state makes independent decisions regarding specific uses of each exam.  New comprehensive, multiple-choice exams are developed each year and are based on the most recent update of the national standards. 

Role plays used by DECA are not provided by MBA Research.  Questions regarding these aspects of the competitive events should be directed to state advisors. For online testing, contact MBA Research. To order paper/pencil exams, contact National DECA.

Click here for the complete document of DECA Test Specifications 2016-2017 and general information.

General information for 2016-2017

  • All exams are 100-item, multiple-choice.  True/False and combination items (e.g., A & B are correct) are generally not used. 
  • Tests are designed with test discrimination in mind.  The design is intended to encourage a broad range of student scores, minimizing the occurrence of “clusters” of students near the top.  This approach results in lower overall scores, but makes the results more valid and reliable in terms of identifying “winners.”
  • All exams are fully independent of one another.  There will be little or no overlapping use of questions among exams used in competition.  There will be no overlap between sample exams and those used in competition.
  • Item selection is based on the national MBA Research standards. With the exception of the district and state level exams for the “Principles” events for first-year DECA members, exams are based on performance indicators at or below the specialist level (Curriculum Planning Levels).  District and state exams for the “Principles” event are based on the prerequisite and career-sustaining level indicators.
  • Items are prorated across all eligible performance indicators so that each instructional area (e.g., promotion) is represented in proportion to the total of all performance indicators.  For example, if there were a total of 200 indicators in a particular list, and 25 of them were from the promotion area, there would be approximately 12 or 13 promotion items on the exam.
  • For some events, DECA has added performance indicators for use in the participating portion of the event (role plays).  These additional indicators are not used in the exams.
  • Items for district and state-level exams include a mix of new and revised (previously used) items.  All items are reviewed each year, and updated as appropriate.  Although items are pulled from a large test-item bank, some may have appeared in other products, including other exams, LAP modules, or practice activities.  However, although many items for a given performance indicator may sound similar to students, the actual reuse of items in any given year is quite small.  (The item bank exceeds 30,000.)

Performance Indicators (Competencies)

DECA Competitive Events

Performance indicators (competencies) for competitive events are used to define the parameters of the written exam and other activities that are part of the overall competition. These performance indicators are the basis of events for DECA ICDC.

These lists were compiled by MBA Research and represent its efforts to support all DECA competitive events within the overall framework of the Business Administration Curriculum Framework. Individual indicators are based on a review of prior research and on extensive review of available online and print literature--both from industry and education.

NOTE: Test items from the BA core are included in all exams.
Business Administration (BA) Core 
Business Management & Administration Cluster Core      
Finance Cluster Core              
Hospitality and Tourism Cluster Core           
Marketing Cluster Core

Economics and Math Applications exams are available for district/regional and state level testing. Contact customer service ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) for more information.

Economics Applications in Business        
Math Applications in Business