In April, we changed the structure of the Judge Program. The Judge Program’s leaders shared the details here. One of the big changes was the addition of certifications for specific tasks. For Level 2 judges, one of the new certifications available is the Level 2 Tester.
Why we created it
This new Level 2 Tester certification helps meet two important program needs:
- We want to make it easier for Level 2 candidates to test.
- We want more ways for Level 2 judges to improve and contribute to the Judge Program other than trying to advance to Level 3.
With the new PPTQ system there’s a greater and more regular need for “local” Level 2s. The term “Level 2 judge” now means, “Competitive REL Judge.” Level 2 candidates should not need to travel long distances to certify. However, when old PTQs went away, fewer local-scale events needed a Level 3 Head Judge. A couple unintended consequences of this change were:
- Many current Level 2 judges felt overworked by intense PPTQ schedules.
- Level 2 candidates had a harder time finding an opportunity to advance with a Level 3 judge to test them.
Level 2 judges are vital to the Judge Program’s long term success. Now, with skills and preparation, a Level 2 can become a Level 2 Tester without investing in the full Level 3 Advancement Process. This allows the Judge Program to grow that critical base of local leaders. It also allows some Level 2 judges to focus on what they care about most without considering all the qualities of a Level 3 judge.
Who it is for
The Level 2 Tester certification is for judges who want to certify other judges for Level 2. Before today, testing a candidate for Level 2 was something only done by Level 3 judges. Every Level 3 judge has the knowledge and understanding required to certify new Level 2 judges. We have always known that there are some Level 2 judges who also have this knowledge and understanding.
This certification is for those judges.
A good candidate for the Level 2 Tester certification mentors others in their region. They know how to give good, meaningful feedback. They are probably already helping mentor Level 1 judges as they grow and advance. They are probably also giving useful feedback to other judges in their level.
Candidates for the Level 2 Tester certification may be area captains. They may be the only Level 2 in a geographically isolated area. But they don’t have to be either of those things. Any qualified Level 2 judge can achieve this certification. The ideal candidate is a judge who is already helping grow candidates to Level 2. Now those judges will be able to test Level 2 candidates all the way through advancement, too.
Who it isn’t for
The Level 2 Tester certification is not for every Level 2 to pursue. The time it takes to certify a Level 2 Tester can add to the already busy schedules of Regional Coordinators and other Level 3 judges. If you pursue this, you should be able to clearly describe why your certification will make a difference.
This isn’t Level 2.5.
Level 2 Tester certification is not required or expected as part of the Level 3 Advancement Process.
Some judges will become Level 2 Testers before pursuing Level 3 or as they pursue Level 3 and others won’t. If you’re a Level 2 judge with no desire to certify other Level 2 judges, please don’t seek this certification.
It doesn’t make you a better judge than other Level 2s; it shouldn’t make you more likely to get accepted to events than other Level 2s; and it shouldn’t help you win friends and influence people. You also don’t need this certification to help teach other judges!
What we expect
A Level 2 Tester is empowered to assess a Level 1 judge’s readiness for Level 2. They should be able to identify a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. They should provide that feedback to the candidate. They should help them grow and achieve the skills necessary for Level 2.
As a final step, the Level 2 Tester should be able to test the candidate. This includes helping the candidate understand their errors on the Level 2 exam. It also includes writing a review to advance them to Level 2. Candidates for the Level 2 Tester certification must prove they have these four crucial skills:
1. Knowledge of rules and policy
The candidate should have strong knowledge of rules and policy. They should be able to explain answers and concepts on a Level 2 test. They should be able to provide feedback on rulings and policy situations. The Level 2 Tester needs to be able to help Level 2 candidates learn from their mistakes on the rules exam. Knowledge of what happens in a scenario is not enough. They must have command of the rules and policy to explain why and how in the correct technical language.
To develop this knowledge, the candidate should study the Comprehensive Rules, MTR, and IPG. Use practice tests such as the Hard Practice exam and Policy Practice. Additionally, candidates can follow and/or participate in education projects through JudgeApps.
We considered requiring a Level 2 Tester candidate to pass the Level 2 or Level 2 Practice exam with a higher score than normal. We also considered using other testing resources like the Level 3 Preliminary exam. Each of these approaches has challenges which outweigh its benefits. With this in mind, the Level 2 Tester certification does not have a special rules exam component. Judges eligible for the Level 2 Tester have already passed the Level 2 exam, and that’s good enough for this purpose.
2. Understanding of the skills required for a baseline Level 2
It’s important for every Level 2 judge to have the skills and experience necessary to head judge a PPTQ. Level 2 judges need to be comfortable judging at Competitive Rules Enforcement Level. Accordingly, Level 2 Tester candidates need to have a good understanding of these skills and knowledge areas. This means they should be able to assess whether a potential Level 2 will be able to head judge a PPTQ immediately after advancing.
It’s also important to understand what is not expected of a new Level 2. Judges are diverse and talented, and requirements have changed over the years. The skills and knowledge we expect of a Level 2 are significant, but we do not expect a newly certified Level 2 to have the same skills and experience as someone who has been a Level 2 for many years.
To master this understanding, candidates may wish to discuss Level 1-Level 2 expectations with a Level 3 or their Regional Coordinator. These discussions can be online for judges in remote areas. There are also many articles on Level 2 expectations for the candidate to read. Candidates should compare the requirements for Level 1 and Level 2, and seek to understand the reasons each requirement exists.
3. Ability to evaluate candidates
The candidate should be able to recognize and evaluate a Level 2 candidate’s diplomacy, teamwork skills, and knowledge of the philosophy of what Level 1 is. It’s important that we maintain a consistent standard for judges at each level. The Judge Program makes a conscious effort to ensure individual judges don’t raise or lower the bar for each level. A Level 2 Tester must be able to assess whether a potential Level 2 judge has the appropriate skills. It’s also important for new Level 2 judges to hold a potential Level 1 candidate to the appropriate standard. This means Level 2 Testers need to be able to make sure that a new Level 2’s standards for Level 1 are correct.
The best way for a Level 2 Tester candidate to achieve this ability is to participate fully in the Level 1 and Level 2 certification experience. The Level 2 Tester candidate should practice evaluating a Level 1 or Level 2 candidate’s skills. Reviews which specifically target the strengths and weakness of Level 1 judges relative to Level 2 are important. They demonstrate that a candidate has this ability. When feasible, Level 2 Tester candidates may learn by observing a Level 2 candidate’s interview process with another Level 2 Tester or Level 3.
4. Proficiency in mentoring and providing constructive feedback to candidates
The Level 2 Tester candidate should be able to help a Level 2 candidate to plan toward Level 2. This includes providing feedback on their required skills both before and after the advancement exam.
To improve in this area, the candidate should give verbal and written feedback at events. It will also be helpful to follow judge projects and blogs related to feedback.
How to certify
The first step to certification is for the candidate to contact their Regional Coordinator. The Regional Coordinator will be able to advise the candidate of any improvements they need to demonstrate before their interview. The Regional Coordinator will also know which Level 3s in their region are able to provide the Level 2 Tester certification.
Candidates must complete the following checklist:
- Is a current Level 2 judge in good standing.
- Has entered two interview reviews, one in the last 12 months, of a judge candidate certifying them as Level 1. The reviews must show examples of constructive feedback based on the outcome of their certification exam and interview. The review must also explain how the judge candidate fulfills the requirements for Level 1.
- Has entered one review in the last 12 months of a Level 1 judge who is seeking advancement to Level 2. The review must explain how the Level 1 judge meets the requirements for Level 2 and/or how the Level 1 judge can improve in order to fulfill those requirements.
- Has entered three other reviews of three different judges in the last 12 months. Reviews must show examples of constructive feedback to the judges reviewed in the areas of tournament operations, rules, and policy at Competitive REL events. These may not be advancement reviews for Level 1 candidates. This also excludes the review recommending a Level 1 judge for Level 2 listed in the requirement above.
- An interview and recommendation from the judge’s Regional Coordinator, or another Level 3 with Regional Coordinator approval. The interview and recommendation must cover the following qualities and knowledge areas:
- Definition and requirements necessary for Level 2
- Evaluation review best practices
- Interview review best practices
- Use of Judge Center and JudgeApps to complete a level advancement process
- Ability to explain this process to another individual.
The interview to satisfy this item may be performed digitally rather than in-person at the Regional Coordinator or designated Level 3’s discretion.
A candidate receives the Level 2 Tester certification when their checklist is complete, and the Regional Coordinator or designated Level 3 interviewer approves. This grants access to the Level 2 test in the Judge Center as well as the ability to change a judge’s level from 1 to 2 in JudgeApps.
You can contact your Regional Coordinator through the Regional Coordinator Contact Form.
Level 2 Tester certification, like other certifications, can expire. A Level 2 Tester must use it at least once per two years by administering a Level 2 exam to a Level 1 judge who is seeking advancement to Level 2 (followed by an appropriate written review, like all advancement exams). At their Regional Coordinator’s discretion, an already certified Level 2 Tester may be asked to demonstrate their maintenance of rules knowledge appropriate to the Level 2 Tester certification by taking a Level 2 practice exam in the Judge Center.
Wrapping this up
A great deal of work and conversation went into the creation of this certification. Initial interest in this project had no fewer than 29 (!) Level 3 judges volunteer their assistance. It’s taken a long time to finalize and publish, but we’re here at last. I’d like to thank the teams of judges who helped us in describing the philosophy behind this certification, drafting its requirements, collecting feedback from Regional Coordinators and likely future Level 2 Testers, ensuring feasibility in DCIX and JudgeApps, and writing this announcement. Many of these judges served in more than one capacity in this process, so they are listed in no particular order:
- Paul Baranay
- Kevin Binswanger
- Sean Catanese
- Adena Chernosky
- Joshua Feingold
- Jara Karaban
- Rob McKenzie
- Fabian Peck
- Sergio Perez
- Carlos Rada
- Brian Schenck
- John Temple
- Justin Turner
- Edwin Zhang
We encourage you to join the discussion on JudgeApps. If you have specific questions, you can reach out to anyone listed above or your Regional Coordinator.