Assessing the Assessors
There are many different thoughts concerning assessors. There are those that believe that the assessors are here to point out what referees do wrong — that thought is far from the actual duties of the assessors.
The assessor's main duty is to help the referee crew improve on their performance. The assessor lets the referees know what they are doing that is good for the game and also give the referees a few pointers on how to improve their performance making the matches they referee more enjoyable — not only for the referees, but also for the players, coaches and the spectators.
There are basically two types of assessments that are conducted by the state association within U.S. Soccer. One is for developmental purposes. The main outcome of this assessment is to help the referees understand what they are doing to help the match, and those things they are doing that they can do to make the match better for all involved. Contrary to belief, there is no pass/fail in a developmental assessment.
The other type of assessment is an upgrade/maintenance assessment. This type of assessment is a more formal assessment than the developmental one. Referees who desire to upgrade to Grade 07 or higher must receive one or more of these formal assessments. Then, to maintain their grade, they must receive a maintenance assessment. Again, the main purpose of the assessment is help the referee improve.
In all cases, the assessment is a private matter, with only three people — the individual referee, the assessor and the State Director of Assessment (SDA) — provided with its details. This is mandated by U.S. Soccer and FIFA.
We do have information that we pass on to local associations when asked to hold what we call an "Assessor Day." The Assessor Day is where North Texas Soccer sends assessors out to the local association to assess games for a day, weekend, or even one of their tournaments. There is a slight fee incurred by the local association, but the cost of the Assessor Day is taken care of by North Texas Soccer.
The Assessor Day features assessors looking at referees for half or whole games and feedback, both written and verbal. Following the Assessor Day, the local association contact receives a summary. The summary includes both an assessment of the positives of the referees' performances, as well as areas in which they can improve. However, this is done overall and NOT on an individual basis.
Also, a recommendation will be given to the local association contact on which referees should be moved up a level, those who should be monitored for performance at their current level, and those who appear comfortable at their current level.
There are other assessments done that should not be considered official assessments, but rather helpful hints from "senior referees." When this is done, it is very important that those "senior referees" are up to speed on referee techniques and U.S. Soccer memorandums. A "senior referee" is usually considered to be one who has refereed for several years (more than just a few) and attends regular training sessions. If those "senior referees" are giving instructions to help improve referees, but are giving the wrong information, they may be doing more harm than good.
I had a teacher/mentor that once told me that the saying, "Practice makes perfect" was wrong. If you practice wrong, you will not be perfect. He suggested it should be changed to, "Practice makes permanent," to become more accurate.
Thank you for all of your help and support in the referee program, as well as in North Texas Soccer.