Attn: Rich Douglas

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by 4Q, Dec 27, 2003.

  1. 4Q

    4Q New Member

    Hey Rich,

    Please mosey over to Air Force Link and look in the "letters" section. There's an interesting conversation about linking education more closely to enlisted promotions. I know you and I have similar views on this and I'd be interested in reading more of your thoughts. More importantly, I think the Air Force audience at that website could benefit from your perspective.


    4Q out
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    What "Air Force link" are you referring to?

    The purpose of promotion testing programs is to create results similar to what promotion boards (made up of senior officials judging one's fitness for promotion) would derive if they were able to consider tens of thousands of records. They can't. But when promotions are delegated to lower-level commanders, considerable bias is introduced to the process. (Blacks, women, and other minorities used to be largely frozen out of the higher enlisted ranks due to this, which was a driving force in changing the system in the 1960's.) What to do?

    The Air Force developed the Weighted Airman's Promotion System to provide a more objective approach, allowing enlisted members to compete with their peers around the world. Points are given for time in service, time in grade, certain decorations, performance evaluation scores, as well as the results of two examinations (one on general knowledge about the Air Force and other, related subjects, and one on technical knowledge related to each specialty career field). Points are awarded to each category, then summed. That becomes the person's "WAPS" score. The Air Force then decides how many people it needs to promote to the new grade, determines the percentage of candidates promoted that will give them the required number, then promotes that percentage from each career field.

    So, what about education? Besides the intrinsic values (more education likely correlates to higher test scores and better job performance), enlisted members completing college courses and degrees can receive mention about these accomplishments in their performance evaluations, which can influence their ratings upwards. But there is no quid pro quo for education, where one would receive specific points for attaining specific educational accomplishments--it is reflected (or assumed to be) in the performance ratings.

    One problem with this is performance evaluation inflation. The systems--unless operated with quotas on how many people can receive the highest ratings--tend to rate everyone highly unless otherwise indicated. It would be as if you took a class and everyone got an "A" except one screw-up who got a "C." The inability to discriminate between top performers and good ones deeply flaws the system--and obscures any impact earning a higher education would have.

    What to do? Well, one of two things. We could say that the skills and knowledges developed in a program of higher education should reflect in improved performance and, therefore, should be accomodated that way--keeping the system the way it is. After all, we're not rewarding educational accomplishment with the promotional system--we're trying to promote the most qualified people to the next grade, regardless of the source of their qualifications. But....

    One could also acknowledge that there are specific skills and knowledges one wants to see in one's leadership--things gained through a college education. To do that, the system could make certain education levels mandatory (or nearly so) for promotion to certainl levels. In fact, it already does that. One needs a bachelor's degree to become an officer. A master's is nearly necessary (in the Air Force) for promotion to major. In the senior enlisted ranks, the top two grades meet a modified promotion board, which has shown historically to have a strong bias to those candidates who've completed associate degrees through the Community College of the Air Force. Those with bachelor's degrees and higher are even more successful.

    I'd like to see NCO's promoted through the middle ranks based upon their demonstrated leadership and technical skills, but I'd like to see mandatory educational levels for the senior grades (including Master Sergeant--E-7).

    (NB: I graduated from college as a 20-year-old Senior Airman and made Staff Sergeant a few months later, then accepted a slot in Officer Training School the next year. I retired under the Voluntary Early Retirement Program as a Captain at 36 in 1996. I spent most of my career in Education and Training, and had quite a bit of experience with the system as a commander in several units.)
  3. 4Q

    4Q New Member

    The Air Force's main website is known as "Air Force Link". I assumed you might've already been familiar with it. Here is the address:
  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Thanks. I'm not at all familiar with it. When I retired I dropped all the old stuff and got on with my new career. I tossed the uniforms, put away the plaques, and dropped my club membership. These days I get a salute when I drive on base and a paycheck every month. It's all good. :)
  5. tcnixon

    tcnixon Active Member

    I realized the other day that if I had stayed in the Navy, I could have retired two years ago.

    Now, if I could have just gotten past the stupidity that abounded, I might have stayed in. :rolleyes:

    Tom Nixon
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I got past the stupidity by becoming an officer. That made me part of the stupidity, which was much more tolerable. ;)

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