A Student’s Guide to Understanding Performance Indicators

DECA competition season has arrived!  Within a few weeks you will compete against your neighboring DECA chapters at a local competition.  In February or March you will then compete at your state or provincial conference.  Finally, in May you will compete at the International Career Development Conference in Atlanta, Ga.

With competition just around the corner your teacher and DECA advisor has probably told you to, “study DECA’s performance indicators.”  This simple statement probably left you with wanting answers to several questions.

What in the world is a performance indicator? 

A performance indicator is used to measure and evaluate knowledge of a specific skill. In a singing competition, the judge would use performance indicators such as: pitch, range and song choice to evaluate the competitor. In a DECA competition, the judge uses both general and specific business and marketing skills as performance indicators to evaluate the competitor. For example, “Describe the uses of grades and standards in marketing.”

How do the DECA judges use performance indicators?

Each competitive event has five to seven performance indicators listed on the front page of the event and on the evaluation sheet. After the judge has listened to your presentation or role-play, the judge will evaluate how well you incorporated your knowledge of the five to seven performance indicators into your presentation. The majority of your score is made up of your knowledge of the performance indicators.

How does my DECA advisor use performance indicators?

Your DECA advisor has a full listing of all performance indicators broken down by career cluster. The performance indicators are validated by industry professionals and are both current and appropriate for each career field. Your advisor uses the performance indicators as teaching tools in the classroom, teaching both general and specific marketing skills throughout the school year.

How can I use performance indicators?

You can use the performance indicator listed for your competitive event to help you study for the written exam and prepare yourself for your role-play or presentation. Each individual role-play or team decision making event scenario has one dominant instructional area that is the focus of the role-play scenario. That means that the majority of the performance indicators will be taken from that dominant instructional area. It is a good idea to review all of the instructional areas located in your career cluster. Review each performance indicator before competition. If you feel uncertain about any of them, ask your advisor to help you. A confident knowledge will make you a better competitor and increase your chances of success!

Find a complete list of performance indicators online.

How do individual series events performance indicators differ from team decision-making events performance indicators?

The individual series events have five performance indicators. At least three of the performance indicators will be from one instructional area. At least one of the performance indicators will be from the list of PATHWAY indicators that match your event. A listing of the pathway indicators that match each event are listed in the table of contents.

The team decision making events have seven performance indicators. At least four of the performance indicators will be from one instructional area. There are no PATHWAY indicators in team decision making events. 

So, now what? 

When you have decided which event you will be competing in, use the link provided to find the performance indicators associated with that event. Print out the entire list if you are able and go through each performance indicator to make sure you understand the skill it is asking and can articulate it. Make notes next to the performance indicators you are unfamiliar with and ask your advisor to help you. Familiarizing yourself with the performance indicators will give you confidence as you compete and impress the judges. 

Many successful DECA competitors use the DECA acronym to help them address each performance indicator during competition:

Define, Explain, Connect, Above

  • Define what the performance indicator means
  • Explain why it’s important or relevant to the situation
  • Connect to a solution
  • Above and beyond: make yourself stand out?

Good luck!

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