MCBA Score Norming (A Follow-up)

After seeing scores from the second weekend of MCBA competition, we’re taking another look at the new-for-2014 scoring system. (This post is not as long as last Sunday’s; I do have a longer one in reserve if anybody should want to read it…)


What we have come to realize, looking at this new scoring system, is that nothing is going to change. MCBA is still scoring bands on the same system; judging is not impacted by the new scoring system (I suspect the judges are not even aware of the changes, to be honest). All of the changes come mathematically after the judges are done. It’s kind of like grading on a curve, if you will.

What the new formula [“(raw score/2)+50”] does is raise competition scores without making any fundamental changes to the scoring system. This will result in higher scores at Finals than we’ve seen in the past, and is resulting than higher scores this season than we’ve seen in the past.

It also appears that this new system is going to prevent us (any curious spectators) from seeing scoring recap sheets. I suspect this reason is because the MCBA does not want us to see the mathematics in place, but if you want to know a band’s raw score before “norming,” all you have to do is take the band’s announced score, subtract 50, and then multiply by 2.

I’ve taken the liberty of looking at this Weekend’s MCBA competitions, and doing this math for you. What you can see when looking at the chart is that nothing is changing. Placements would not have been affected if we were still on the old system.

Grant 2014 Place “Raw” Place
4 – Orchard View 75.675 3 51.35 3
4 – Newaygo 80.350 2 60.70 2
4 – Godwin Heights 81.825 1 63.65 1
4 – Grant 79.375 EXH 58.75 EXH
3 – Sparta 77.875 1 55.75 1
2 – Reeths-Puffer 87.225 1 74.45 1
2 – Jenison 86.150 2 72.30 2
4 – South Lake 79.275 1 58.55 1
4 – Columbia Central 78.950 2 57.90 2
4 – Atherton 77.425 3 54.85 3
3 – Thurston 83.250 1 66.50 1
3 – Lamphere 80.425 2 60.85 2
3 – Hazel Park 80.250 3 60.50 3
1 – Troy Athens 85.175 1 70.35 1
2 – Harrison 84.650 1 69.30 1
2 – Carman Ainsworth 81.325 2 62.65 2
Lakeland 83.800 EXH 67.60 EXH
Milford 80.700 EXH 61.40 EXH


I must admit that I am glad to see dialogues between band directors and their students and parents regarding these changes. It is going to take time for all of us to adjust.

I personally miss the old system — I’ve found that typing three decimal places is awkward (for now). I also personally miss seeing recap sheets. I love the data they provide, and I find it very informative to see how individual judges scored individual bands. I hope that someday MCBA will allow us to see recap sheets again.

[Semi-related interjection: I really want to thank the directors and staff who sent me copies of recap sheets this weekend. I loved looking at them, foreheads and all!]

But, to this new system, I now say “Welcome.” I needed an adjustment period [I’m still adjusting; it’ll probably take all season…]. Had the MCBA been more transparent about this change, it would not have come as such a surprise. I am excited for the potentially higher scores at State — there has never been a reason we haven’t seen the top bands scoring nearer to the high-90s.

Could the MCBA have done this differently? Yes; they could have taken the time to rework the rubrics and change the judging criteria. The new formula was definitely the easier way to change the system, and after several years of fiasco-scoring with random decimals, I can understand why they chose a mathematical formula over a system restructure.

So, let’s try to ignore the scoring system [as much as possible] and wish every MCBA band the best of luck this fall. Always do your best and give your all. We appreciate all of your hard work and love this activity as much as you do, divided in half, plus 50.

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