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Author Topic: Speaker Points, Packets, and Ballots: The Lost Year  (Read 4025 times)
Ryan Galloway
Full Member
Posts: 121

« on: February 08, 2010, 10:05:16 PM »


Our experimentation with speaker point scales and the lack of printed packets is coming at a cost.  As a coach, I feel like this was a lost year of valuable information and dialogue with my students about their progress.  Our rush to innovation is coming at the expense of valuable coaching information.  I suggest either working on fixing problems or slowing down our rush to experimentation until we connect the dots on providing coaches information they are used to.  I feel speaker point innovation, delayed or the lack of packets, and the lack of the giving out of written ballots (at ADA tournaments) is depriving coaches of useful information to help their students.  More needs to be done to keep coaches in the loop on the progress of their students.

First:  speaker point innovation.  I won't rehash much that I haven't said before.  Right now, I view speaker point innovation schemes as a failure.  The information I have received for my younger teams in particular has not moved beyond the instability pointed out in the past.  We simply have failed as a community to agree upon a "solution" to a problem I feel has been increasingly exaggerated (speaker point conflation at the top of the bracket).  The primary goal for tournament directors with regard to speaker points should be to agree upon one scale, publish it, and move the community toward a singular norm. 

We live in a world of point incoherence, and those with experience on moves in speaker point scales have told me that when speaker point systems moved in the past (away from box checking, toward 1/2 speaker points, etc), that the new norms took several years to come into being.  We are losing information in the mean-time about how to help our students.  I have lost a valuable tool to identify debates where my students might have been struggling, meaning I know less about what kind of arguments to help them on (do they need to work more on theory, k's, counterplans, etc.)  In the past, low points in a counterplan theory round meant to work with them on that skill.  Now, a means to assess that has been lost.

In addition, pairing decisions about who is roughly at the same level as another student is lost because we simply don't have a fixed scale.  The rush to innovation is having a negative downside.  Hopefully, there will be moves quickly to establish new norms.  In the meanwhile, students this year were hurt by the wild instability in points from round to round, judge to judge, and tournament to tournament.  I question the value of the experiment.

Second:  the lack of or delayed packets.  Some tournaments never release information in a packet form, and we are left to research what speaker points my students got days or even over a week later.  Having a packet of information available for the van ride home or the minute you get back to campus is valuable for student-coach dialogue.  It helps the coach learn what students may have struggled with in an individual debate.  This year has caused my students and me to reach the point of apathy with regard to speaker point information.  We wait for days for it to come online, and then when we get it, the information is fairly meaningless because the numbers don't make sense (see above).  The dialogue between the students and the coaches about rounds is diminished in the process.  A fair amount of my coaching springs from being able to discuss individual performance in an individual round with my students.  This has been lost.

Third:  an argument specific to ADA tournaments--not receiving the ballots.  At Richmond and Vandy, I diligently followed ADA rules and wrote page length ballots for speakers.  No one ever received these ballots.  The rush to "paperless" meant they were never distributed.  All of the advice I gave (and supposedly others did as well), according to the "must provide written comments on the ballot at ADA tournaments" is gone.  The ADA should either ban the rule (it is meaningless in the status quo) or provide a rule change solution to require tournaments to provide superior methods of providing the commentary that once was on the ADA ballots.

Some will say:  online system solves.  The last two tournaments with an on-line system I couldn't get online at the tournament, had to enter the ballot at the ballot table.  No ability to give the on-line comments.  The technology (at least for some coaches) hasn't caught up with the system.  Feedback to students is getting lost in the process.

Many of the new changes we have implemented are great.  Online ordinal judge preference systems, real-time results at tournaments, online pairing releases, are meaningful and useful.  However, we are also losing other information in the process.  Steps should be taken to either make sure we get that information back or make efforts to slow down our pace of change so more meaningful information can be provided to our students.

I don't want next year to be another lost year of information for my students.

Jr. Member
Posts: 73

« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2010, 12:19:54 PM »

I especially agree with the lack of packet thing.  Is it that hard to post a results packet to this message board after a tournament finishes?

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