HS Speech Adjudicator Guidelines

Before You Adjudicate: #

  • Familiarize yourself with specific rules and evaluation criteria of categories you will evaluate.
  • Make sure you’re not adjudicating any students you know personally; report problems to officials.
  • Position yourself so your view and hearing for evaluation are unobstructed.

Common Issues: #

  • Accessibility requests – Incorporate accommodations/modifications as noted on the ballot, without drawing undue attention. Evaluate each contestant on their own merits. Prompting is not allowed except when noted/requested.
  • Time limits – In all categories except Radio News Reporting, a 15-second grace period will be allowed, after which one point will be deducted from that evaluation.  Although there are no minimum time limits, adjudicators may lower scores for unduly short presentations in speech content development or characterization criteria.
  • Disqualification – If you believe a student is violating rules, please listen to the entire presentation and evaluate the best you can, then report the matter to contest officials, who will investigate and render a decision. Never announce disqualification, except Demonstration Speech, RULE 4, where illicit items may endanger safety.
  • Source Citation – Speeches should be well researched with sources cited orally (no printed list of works cited required). Please note that personal experience is a valid source, but should be identified as such.
  • Implicit Bias – We are all influenced by implicit bias, or stereotypes that unconsciously affect our decisions. When adjudicating, our implicit biases negatively impact students who are traditionally marginalized and disenfranchised. Before writing comments or rating, reflect on any biases that may impact your decision-making process.
  • Video (virtual contests) – Video quality may be impacted by lighting, internet, access to equipment, and other constraints. Your ratings and comments should focus only on the presentation itself and questions in evaluation criteria. Please watch videos continuously without pausing, rewinding/rewatching, so you are evaluating the work as if you were watching the presentation live, in person.
  • Face masks – do not take presence nor absence of masks into account in your evaluation (in-person or videos) as you do not know circumstances by which students may need to be masked.
  • Double-entry – at subdistrict and district festivals with double-entries, please allow students to leave/arrive between presentations; students are advised to sign in at their second room; adjudicators should remain in the room until all signed-in double-entered contestants present. To keep the round moving, you may go out of order and allow present students to perform before others arrive.

Ratings & Comments #

Whenever you select a rating less than 5, describe how contestants did not meet your expectations. When deducting more than one point, describe several items for improvement, or explain magnitude of a single issue. If something applies under multiple evaluation items (e.g., soft volume impacted both audibility as well as emotional intensity called for), explain how your concern specifically relates to each area (to avoid “double jeopardy”).

Points Definition
1 Missing elements, refer to evaluation criteria
2 Needs many improvements
3 Developing, needs additional coaching/practice
4 Meets expectations, needs polish
5 Mastery, exceeds expectations

Calculate total points, record at the bottom of the evaluation sheet; print name and sign. Strive to find areas for improvement for the subdistrict or district level, so contestants are incentivized to grow. Note scores required to advance: 16 at subdistrict; 21 at district. See this table for awards at State:

Points Award Medal
5-19 Achievement (Copper)
20-22 Finalist (Bronze)
23-24 All State (Silver)
25 Critic’s Choice (Gold)

Written Comments: Make specific written comments apply to criteria for evaluation – leave no area blank. Any rating less than five should have justification for reduction in score, citing specific examples of what a student did or said. Be honest, positive, supportive and helpful with suggestions for improvement.

Oral Evaluation: At the end of each round, you may give a brief, generalized oral evaluation. Avoid individualized evaluations, making sure you are evaluating the entire section and not just one individual.

Return of Forms:

  • At the conclusion of each section, record points from signed student evaluation sheets on the ballot provided, making sure points on the ballot are the same as those on the evaluation sheet.
  • Sign the ballot and return it, along with the student evaluation sheet (unless otherwise instructed by the festival host) to the festival headquarters.
  • At the State Speech Festival, when using paper forms, hand the individual evaluation sheets back to each entry before leaving the room and return the white “master” ballot copy to the info desk at your site.
Updated on 04/23/2024
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