Merit badge Items reported Complete by Scout, show up in Leader Approval report

When the scout marks an item completed on a Merit Badge it shows up on the Needs Approval Report for the Leader, regardless of whether the requirements and the badge were counselor approved.

Shoudn’t the process be

  1. Scout Marks Requirement Complete
  2. MBC Marks Requirement “Counselor Approved”
  3. MBC Marks Merits Badge as “Counselor Approved” once all requirements have been satisfied.

The Merit Badge should show up for leader approval after the MBC has approved.

Am I missing something here. We would like to do mass approvals for a large Troop. This would require the leader to review each scout to make sure that their Merit Badges were Counselor Approved before approving it.

This is as intended as not every unit or MBC uses SB

Any thoughts on How to control accidental approval of merit badges that are not yet complete? The Needs Approval Report does not allow filtering by Requirements and Merit Badges.

Any ideas are welcome. We have a huge troop and need to be tracking merit badges more efficiently while maintaining the integrity of the process.

Many troops won’t leader approve individual requirements. They’ll just approve the whole MB when the scout brings them the completed blue card?

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Since a lot of folks are remote these days we are trying to figure out how to do this electronically. For now we will ask the leader to not bulk approve. He will have to go through them individually. Woudl be cumbersome for him

We’ve been doing it electronically, too. I believe the scout reaches out to the SM when they are completely done with the MB, and the SM either approves it then or asks the advancement chair to approve it on his behalf.

Yep. That is what we are planning to do. My challenge is that we have 90 Scouts in our troop. So the leader often does bulk approvals of requirements entered by the Advancement chair. Now that we are doing Merit Badges in ScoutBook as well, when he does a bulk approval, requirements nit approved by the MBC also get approved :frowning:

Will have do them individually i guess.

This is one of the drawbacks of the “Approve All” button. While it makes my life easier many times, it only seems to take one major foul up for me to start contemplating a request to have it removed.

One option is to ask the scout to upload a scan of the blue card as a Comment on the individual requirement. At least that way, it allows the leader to verify whether or not it was signed-off, even if it doesn’t solve the “bulk approval” issue. If it’s not signed on an actual blue card, they could upload a copy of the relevant email as an image.

Another approach might be to request that the scouts not mark requirements as “complete”, but rather add a comment that indicates it was completed and reviewed with the counselor, and as of which date. They could track it for their own purposes either on a blue card, or on a print of the blank blue card from Scoutbook.

Are there a lot of MBCs – working with your scouts – who are not using Scoutbook? I’ve been relatively successful getting the MBCs to try out using Scoutbook, even the somewhat more techno-phobic ones. They generally don’t like it as much, nor use it as efficiently, as the physical blue cards. However, they do see advantages over trying to track everything through various emails. Some of the ones who don’t use Scoutbook are signing a physical blue card, then emailing photos of it to the scouts whenever requirements are reviewed/approved over Zoom. That seems like a lot of extra steps to me, but I’m also fairly comfortable with Scoutbook.

Thank you Charley… I see that you have felt the pain :slight_smile:

We are just starting to use ScoutBook for MBs. Haven’t seen much pushback on system use. Will see what the future holds. There may be some techno-phobes who may resist, in which case we will figure out some upload of a picture of the blue card type process.

We have Advancements and Merit Badges delegated between the Advancement Chair and a Merit Badge Coordinator so it should be easy enough to check merit badge counselor approval on each merit badge before approving. I just have to now tell the Scout Master that he may have to stop using his favorite Approve All

But…but…but…it’s a BIG RED BUTTON! How can I not push it? It’s just begging to be pushed. :rofl:

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It was my favorite Button for years as CubMaster!!

If anyone is taking ScoutBook product enhancement ideas I have 1

  1. Allow filters on Need Approval report page. So you can filter by activity type Rank Advancement vs Merit Badge vs Awards.

Anyone know if there is a Page for feature requests. I know one guy who’d upvote this. Thanks in advance Charley.

We have a mixed bag regarding the MBCs who are active in our Troop. Of the six committee members/ASMs that are also MBCs, probably two of us are really comfortable working in Scoutbook, and the others can use Scoutbook, but generally prefer physical blue cards.

Yeah, we have a mixed bag, too, @SteveCagigas.

I’ve started connecting even the ones who aren’t comfortable in Scoutbook, so that at least the adult leaders reviewing things know who to contact in case there’s some lack of clarity about completions. It’s a less-than-perfect system, but I have no expectation of perfection. That would just be silly. :wink:

Created a new feature request.

Not sure if this forum allows voting but comment on it to let the powers that be know :slight_smile:

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Same here. I told our Scouts to send me pictures of their blue cards after meeting with their MBCs. I can attach the pic as evidence for this signatures and mark the requirements off as completed.

Advancement Coordinator for a boy troop and a girl troop. Both units are meeting in person (with strict COVID guidelines). Small # of people at meetings. Small population (~17,000) town in a small population (~36,000) county with a large area(~1100 sq mi). Been the Advancement person since before IA 1, SB and IA 2. In the early days I recognized e-mails from the MBCs, especially for a “group effort”. A lot of the local MBCs use a spreadsheet (electronic &/or hardcopy) to keep track of the individual youth’s requirement completions. When the youth has completed the MB the MBC usually fills out a Blue Card or if a batch I will accept an e-mail or other written document that the MB’s are done. Then I enter the completions into SB within a few days of the Scout meeting.
Some of the MBC’s especially for the Girl troop use SB to track MB requirements and it appears to work for them.
The largest either troop has been since we started using SB is 34 youth and I have not had a problem with being able to keep up with entry of advancement for either troop.
Boy Troop
The boy troop does not use entry of individual rank requirements for any of the ranks. The scouts handbook is the official record up to BORs at which time the BORs fill out an Advancement Report and give to me for entry into SB.
Girl Troop
In the Girl troop the SM and ASMs sometimes record individual advancement requirements for some ranks into SB but the youths handbook is still the official record up to BORs at which time the BORs fill out an Advancement Report and give to me for entry into SB.
I keep the Advancement Reports for Rank Advancements until time to purchase for CORs then attach to the SB report for turning in to Council and Scout Shop. (Council office is about 1.5 hrs / 90 miles)
I do NOT use the Approve All Red Button since I am keeping up on about a once every week or two and both units are smaller in size.
I have used the “Mark AS Awarded” big button after CORs
Good luck to all of my fellow scouters out there and stay healthy.

Similar situation, I have a scout who saw “100%” on his E-prep merit badge and wanted his badge so he could sew it on for his Life BOR. As advancement chair I looked, and he had a few requirements checked off as complete by his mother (not the MBC), and once anyone has green checked a requirement, it comes off as complete. There should be a way that only the MBC can mark it as complete. I tested this, and as a parent I was able to sign off a requirement on a MB that I’m NOT listed as the MBC for, and the percentage complete went up. I would like that percentage to only go up when an MBC marks it as complete, then all the Unit leader needs to do is approve it after the MBC has marked it as 100% complete.

We have had a few scouts come to me after a COH asking why they didn’t get a certain MB when Scoutbook shows it as 100% complete. Yes, a bit of re-instruction needs to go on with these scouts on the proper procedure for doing a MB, but Scoutbook could help out too.

Elizabeth, just had this discussion internally here as well. “Complete” does not mean Approved or Awarded.

By marking an item complete the scout is just letting the leader or merit badge counselor know that they are ready to be tested for that requirement. The leader should verify and mark the requirement approved. For things that kids get their books signed for, we ask them to input in scout book along with pictures of signed book pages.

Again completed is a little misleading however all that indicates is that the scout is ready. When we see a complete in scoutbook we go in to check for proof or mark it approved when we verify the scouts work.

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The problem is that when the unit mb coordinator (who is the person who signs off as unit leader approved, in our troop) saw “100%” after a COH, she told me I forgot a few MB’s. I informed her that where she saw wasn’t 100% complete and signed off by the MBC, but the scout. It’s caused confusion with both the leaders and scouts recently, since we started relying more on scoutbook and less on physical blue cards. Basically the scout is signing things off as completed by him but not communicating to the MBC, then wondering why he isn’t getting the badge. Clearly the troop needs instruction on how to complete mb’s using scoutbook, and reminding the scouts that they still need to communicate with their MBC’s.

Thanks for the response.

I agree with the arguments that this can largely be addressed by changes to actions by individuals at the unit level. However, this ties back to an issue that I have raised many times in the past, which is partially about nomenclature and partially about functionality.

From a nomenclature perspective, the word “Complete” means something very different from “Ready for Review/Testing”. While I understand the verbal communication via SUAC from BSA-IT of the “intent” being “Ready for Review/Testing”, that’s ret-conning a meaning onto something that is a leftover feature from a Cub Scouting model of advancement (i.e. parent as Akela) which propagated when Scoutbook was expanded to serve troops, long before the BSA purchased it. I don’t say this as a slam on original development decisions. It does, however, appear to more clearly state a software development pathway that is consistent the behavior presently observed. Respectfully, continuing to call a duck a dog does not make it a dog, and is not a solution.

As Scoutbook is structured now, marking something Complete:

  1. Can be done by a parent or a scout who is connected to their account.
  2. Causes it to show up in the Needs Approval report.
  3. Causes the badge, award, rank, etc to appear on the scout’s dashboard as though it has already been earned.

Each of these has the potential to generate issues at anything other than the Cub Scouting level. The first can be okay, and is the correct behavior for Cub Scout advancement (assuming a parent not a scout marks it), since it is consistent with the advancement methods defined by the BSA for Cub Scouting. The parent or registered adult leader indicates that the cub scout has completed the requirement/rank/award by satisfying the standard of “Do Your Best” and marks the work Complete. This is entirely congruent with the parent signing-off the requirement/rank/award in the cub scout’s handbook. At that time, the rank badge or award appears on the scout’s profile. This is proper because the standard for earning the award has been satisfied (parent or adult leader certification that the scout has done his or her best to complete the requirements). Appearance in the Needs Approval report is also proper (although the nomenclature is still problematic), because this informs the leader that the requirement/rank/award needs further action. The Leader Approval step actuates the digital equivalent of notifying the advancement chair so that the badge/award can be purchased or issued from unit stock. Again, problematic nomenclature but consistent with the actual workflow if this were a non-digital process, so lower impact. The Awarded step indicates that the need to disburse the badge/award has been satisfied. In this context, the latter two steps are actually related only to the “logistics” of disbursing the badge/award. They are not integral to the approval of the actual work itself. Thus, each of the three events noted in the list above are “proper” in the pack context. Things at the Webelos level are a bit fuzzier, but I’m going to gloss over that for the moment because the larger issue occurs in the Scouts BSA and Sea SCouting programs (and potentially in the Venturing program since it now has ranks, if I understood what I have read elsewhere correctly). I’m going to talk about the Scouts BSA program process, since I am less familiar with the mechanics of the others.

At the Scouts BSA program level, however, the parent is no longer serving as the review authority with respect to advancement. Therefore, neither the parent nor the scout should be marking advancement “Completed”. Advancement is complete when actually reviewed and approved by the unit leader or their designee in accordance with the requirements set forth in the handbook/requirements “book” and the Guide to Advancement. Thus, the nomenclature is inherently problematic.

Having the requirement/badge/rank/award marked Completed appear on the Needs Approval report is only problematic in terms of how many units are using the report. The Needs Approval report is largely being treated at the troop level in the same manner it was at the pack level: as a necessary logistical step for notifying the advancement chair that merit badges/rank badges/awards need to be sourced and/or disbursed. However, the intended behavior described by BSA-IT is that this is simply notification that the scout is ready for the unit leader or their designee to review and approve work already done. This assertion is not consistent with the text of many requirements, which by definition are not “already done” until (for example) demonstrated and/or discussed. It becomes even more remote with respect to merit badges. There are additional logistical hurdles that exist with merit badges (e.g. counselors and/or programs like summer camps who don’t use Scoutbook), so having them behave in the same manner as ranks and awards is likely the lesser of two evils. This issue can largely be remedied through policy implementation at the unit level.

The behavior of the Scoutbook GUI (Item 3) does not change at the troop level: marking a rank or award Complete causes it to appear in the scout’s dashboard as though approved. This behavior is not consistent with the asserted position that Completed means it is ready for testing, review and approval. It displays as though the rank/badge/award has already been approved by the relevant authority

My suggested remedy for this issue is as follows:

At the Scouts BSA level, change the following properties:

  1. Change the name of the checkbox from “Completed” to “Ready for Review”. This adds 7 characters, and is only slightly longer than “Leader Approved”, so should not cause substantial issues with handling of the string.
  2. Change the logic for displaying the rank badge/award on the scout’s dashboard from being marked Completed to being marked Leader Approved.
    (ALTERNATE: Change the logic to only display on the dashboard once “Leader Approved”.)

I recognize that neither of these is on the BSA’s critical path, but I hope that the developers are taking seriously the impact that this seemingly minor issue generates within units. In particular, I hope that the development work being put into whatever future version of Scoutbook is being developed is already conceived so as to resolve this issue.

It seems like the first proposed change is more than just “Dilbert easy”, since we already have Troop Roster, Troop Forum, Troop Reports, etc as opposed to Pack(i.e. the menu labels are already context sensitive). It seems like changing the name of the tickbox from “Completed” to something else should be strictly superficial and not impact underlying programming logic. There would be no need to change the underlying name of the tickbox state variable from (presumably) completed, or something similar.

I acknowledge that the second proposed change is more involved, since it requires different behavior of the GUI based on the program the scout is involved with. At the pack level, marking the “first tickbox” (aka Completed) would mean that the work is actually completed, and displaying the results is reasonable. At the troop/ship/crew level, the rank/badge/award would not appear until marked Leader Approved. The alternate proposal seems like an easier programming fix, since the developers would be changing the GUI behavior at all program levels, rather than having to make it context sensitive.

I know it seems like a little thing, but we continue to get the same concerns raised by multiple units, and it doesn’t necessarily go away for units who aren’t still complaining about it simply because they created policy about how it’s “supposed” to be used. I still regularly get scouts who ask me why they haven’t received something that is marked Completed and appears on their Scoutbook profile. We frequently have adults who Leader Approve things that have not actually been reviewed yet, thinking that another adult has actually done the review prior to the scout/parent marking something Completed.