Educational Partners: DECA + MBA Research

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.

Our Partnership With DECA

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.

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 Learning Center, 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 Executive Vice President 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.

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

About DECA

DECA Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit student organization with over 163,000 members in all 50 United States, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and Germany. The United States Congress, the United States Department of Education and state, district and international departments of education authorize DECA’s programs.

Mission: DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.

With a 75-year history, DECA has impacted the lives of more than ten million students, educators, school administrators and business professionals since it was founded in 1946. Their strong connection with the organization has resonated into a brand that people identify as a remarkable experience in the preparation of emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. DECA’s programs and activities have constantly evolved as they use the latest technology and apply cutting edge educational research. Their core focus has remained consistent and is captured in their mission.

In the Classroom: Pairing MBA Research Support and DECA

Did you know that MBA Research creates DECA’s written exams? Here are 3 tips for DECA success!

1. Focus on Performance Indicators

1. Focus on Performance Indicators

MBA Research’s performance indicators are the basis for DECA tests, role plays, case studies, and School Based Enterprise certifications

  • All MBA Research products help students to master Performance Indicators.
  • Integrate MBA Research resources into your classroom to prepare students for success.
  • Performance Indicators are informed and validated by the business community.
2. Use the MBA Research Learning Center

2. Use the MBA Research Learning Center

Mobile- and user-friendly, the MBA Research Learning Center puts the information students (and teachers!) need right at their fingertips.

The Learning Center contains:

  • 300+ instructional modules (LAPs), each based on a Performance Indicator
  • Interactive activities, engaging readings, ready-to-use presentations, discussion guides, and more
  • Built-in assessment center
  • Activities for role-play practice
3. Build confidence by using MBA Research assessments

3. Build confidence by using MBA Research assessments in your classroom

MBA Research writes the DECA exams. Use our assessments to help students get familiar with test item style as they master content.

We offer:

  • Instructional Area Exams
  • End-of-Course Exams
  • End-of-Program Exams
  • Rubrics
  • Test Item Bank in the Learning Center (create your own practice tests!)
  • Digital Badges available for all assessments!
    • Great for résumés and LinkedIn pages
    • Exciting for students to earn

Visit here for additional information.

As someone who works closely with both DECA and MBA Research, I’ve seen first-hand that MBA Research works hard to promote DECA values and support DECA initiatives.

- Lori Hairston, Washington DECA Executive Director

DECA Test Specifications

DECA currently uses seven 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.

MBA Research does not provide the role plays that DECA uses. 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.

Visit this page for the complete document of DECA Test Specifications and general information.

General Information

  • All exams are 100-item, multiple-choice. True/False and combination items (e.g., A & B are correct) are 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.
  • Item selection is based on the National Business Administration Standards. With the exceptions of the Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management exams and the district and state level exams for the “Principles” events, most exams are based on performance indicators at or below the specialist level. The Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management exams draw from all six 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. Note: Actual counts may vary slightly from those in the charts on the following pages.
  • 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 test item bank exceeds 30,000.)

DECA Competencies

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.

Checklist for Success

Use our latest “Checklist for Success” DECA insert for resources on how to prepare for DECA competition and get students to the stage!

Download DECA Checklist for Success


More Advice for Competition Preparation

“Five Keys to Preparing Students To Compete” by Jim Gleason, Ph.D.

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.

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 lesson modules (LAPs) 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 our newsletter. And, be sure to plan now to join us for this year’s MBA Conclave. Your colleagues are second to none when it comes to hosting an exciting, fun, demanding professional development conference.

Jim Gleason is the former 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.

DECA Community Service Project Workbook

As part of either the Community Awareness Project or the Community Giving Project, DECA students will plan, organize, and implement their own project to serve the community. This workbook guides students throughout that process, from establishing project committees to developing the final presentation and report.

Download DECA Community Service Workbook

State Advisors: Online Testing

Are you thinking about transitioning to online testing? MBA Research offers comprehensive exams based on the nationally validated Business Administration standards in two formats.

The online exams are available through our website. Paper versions of the competitive events exam are available through National DECA. Although both versions use identical specifications (blueprints), the actual questions vary. Our online exams use a sophisticated software package called WebXam, which is designed for high-stakes testing.

Benefits of Online Testing

The online assessment system offers several significant advantages:

  • Maximum Security. The only complete copies of any online exam exist 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. Given 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. Over time, this information will help us provide hard, quantifiable data that is invaluable to documenting learning outcomes associated with the DECA competitive events program.
  • Ability To Monitor Trends. In 2011, the MBA Research online assessment center started using benchmark scores that are comparable from year to year. Now we can 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 can 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 are (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.
  • Control Over 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

Reach Out Today

For further information on our administration of DECA, contact MBA Research today.