The recommended/decided ranks are used in a variety of ways. The decided rank is 1/2 rank higher than the recommended.From what I understand, the ATA has about the same number of belts as most other schools, which seems to be between ten and twelve these days (including white, ildan and dan bo). I know that the ATA has recommended and decided versions of each belt.
Are there two separate tests (one for recommended and one for decided), each with associated testing fees? Or does it work differently?
For example, it is the "norm" in our school to promote a full rank at a time from White Belt up to Purple Belt. At that point, the students slow down and promote a half-rank at a time because the material is more difficult and more things are covered.
However, let's say that I have a student do an absolute "walk-on-water" testing. It is possible to promote that student a rank and a half, let's say from Orange Belt Rec. to Yellow Belt Dec. At the same time, we might have a student who has put forth effort but isn't quite ready to promote. We can bump him a half rank to Orange Belt Dec. and he spends another cycle on the material.
The testing fees are paid per test, not by the outcome of the test. There is no difference in the testing fees paid until the First Degree Rec. and Second Degree Rec. tests, which are lower than the Dec. tests.