Rules: High School Speech

Full Handbook #

Rules & Policies for High School Speech #

  1. Categories offered: Expository Speech, Extemporaneous Speech, Farrago, Group Interpretive Reading, Impromptu Speech, Informative/Demonstration Speech, Moments in History Speech, Oratory Speech, Play Acting, Poetry Reading, Prose Reading, Public Address Speech, Radio News Reporting, Solo Acting Humorous, Solo Acting Serious, Special Occasion Speech, and Storytelling.
  2. Contest participation regulations
    1. Submitting registration obligates a school to pay WISDAA dues and contest registration fees whether or not the school actually participates.
    2. All schools are subject to WISDAA Interscholastic Participation Rules, including Eligibility/Participation §2.1, §2.2, and §2.3 pertaining to supervision and youth protection.
    3. In all festivals participants’ school identity shall not be made known to adjudicators until results are announced.  Wearing emblems identifying and representing schools is prohibited. For virtual participation, coaches should avoid identifying their school in submitted videos/video channels.
    4. Member schools may participate with nonmember schools in contests other than those sponsored by the Association, but such participation will not qualify contestants for WISDAA participation certificates.
    5. Electronic/digital recording is prohibited at any WISDAA event. This does not apply to videos of entry presentations submitted by coaches for adjudication in virtual contests.
    6. Entries may participate at a different same-level festival from the rest of their school, however, the following requirements apply:
      1. Individual virtual participation requests will be granted without any permission required.
      2. When requesting a different in-person contest, the head coach must request permission of the district chair and inquire with the different festival manager/host if they have space.
      3. Upon receiving permission, in SpeechWire the coach must request a different festival for the entry(ies).
      4. Whether the coach is requesting for the whole team, or for individual entry(ies), the coach is required to accompany students — or another school district employee or vetted school district volunteer may go in the coach’s place. Contestants will NOT be allowed to perform without a school official present. Parents are not allowed to fulfill this role unless they have gone through a background check and been vetted by the school as a recognized volunteer.
      5. The coach must provide the required number of adjudicators for that different contest, or pay the uncovered adjudicator fee, unless expressly waived by that contest.
      6. An entry may perform at only one contest for each level (subdistrict, district, State).
    7. For any virtual entries, the coach must attest that they have followed their school’s policies regarding video recording students (i.e., obtained parental permission/release forms). Coaches are responsible for checking each video link; incorrect links, wrong sharing settings, or inaudible videos will be considered “no shows” and will not advance to the next contest level.
  3. Contest levels:  The progressive levels of festivals shall be subdistrict, district and State.
    1. Subdistrict and district festivals shall consist of three rounds of participation. All students must participate in three rounds unless permission has been granted by the district chair/host in an emergency situation.
    2. Festival managers determine registration fees and adjudicator honoraria.
    3. Subdistricts: districts are subdivided into smaller groupings for the first contest level; arrangement shall consider geographic location of schools, but all schools comprising a subdistrict must be within the same district. District chairs shall inform schools which Subdistrict they are in. In conducting a subdistrict, the host shall make all the necessary arrangements and divide the cost among the participating schools.
    4. Schools/students are expected to attend contests in their assigned region. Contest managers are under no obligation to make special arrangements for schools unable to attend; however, district chairs and the State Office may grant permission to attend a different region whose manager has availability.
    5. Coaches may designate individual entries to participate in the State Office-run virtual contest at any level.
    6. The State Festival shall be one round of participation for each entry; registration fees are: $10 per individual entry, $12 per two-person Demonstration entry, and $15 per Play Acting/Group Interpretative Reading entry.
  4. Registration: Entries must be registered online beginning with subdistrict to be eligible to advance; festival managers have the right to require entering schools to honor reasonable entry deadlines.
    1. An entry is defined as an individual student, except for two-person Informative/Demonstration Speech entries, and groups of 2-5 students in Group Interpretive Reading and Play Acting.
    2. Entry Limits:  Each school may submit any number of entries. Any in-person contest may limit a school to a maximum of 30 and no more than four (4) in-person entries per any category; in those cases additional entries above and beyond these limitations may participate virtually.
    3. Double-entry: Any student may enter in up to two different categories; however, a school is responsible for providing adjudicators based on total entries at each contest in which it has students (as per §5.3), including double-entries. In-person contests may limit participation by any student to one category, in which case, the student may participate in a second category virtually. At the State Festival, a student participating in more than one entry must be registered in an alternative time slot (which could be virtual).
    4. In the event member(s) of a Play Acting group, Group Interpretative Reading ensemble, and/or one of the two Demonstration speakers is/are unable to appear at a Festival, any other eligible student(s) may be substituted.
    5. At the State Festival, for double entered contestants and other extenuating circumstances, entries from a school may perform during a different time slot than the rest of the school, however, supervision requirements (including a minimum of two responsible adults) cross-referenced in §2.2 apply to each time slot in which a school has entries.
    6. Accessibility requests: when registering entries, the coach should note accommodations and other requests required by any contestants as per their school’s protocols for doing so. Those will be reviewed by the state office, with specific instructions shared with each contest level. It is the coach’s affirmative responsibility to specify this information when registering entries; contest officials will ensure information is kept confidential.
  5. Material
    1. Source material: Coaches must have a copy (photocopy) of all entries’ original source literary material, from which cuttings were made, readily available for inspection upon request of adjudicators, festival staff and/or referee committee.
    2. Quality literary material:  In some categories (Farrago and Solo Acting), the selection of material is a criterion for evaluation.  Where required, quality material is defined as that which “gives insight into human values, motivations, relationships, problems and understandings and is not characterized by sentimentality, violence for its own sake, unmotivated endings or stereotyped characterizations.” It is recommended that such material be sought for all interpretive categories, even if there is no specific evaluation item related to selection of material.
    3. Changing or revision of material is permitted for the next level.
    4. Copyright, permission, and royalty: Each member school whose participants use copyrighted material is responsible for obtaining permission from the publisher to use that material. When a royalty play or cutting from a royalty play is used, the school using such material is responsible for permission to cut, and payment or obtaining a waiver of royalty.
    5. School and community standards:coaches are responsible for ensuring their students represent their school and community standards in use of subject matter, language, and use of gesture.
    6. Reuse of material in different seasons:  A student or group may not use the same selection or original speech more than one year in any WISDAA event, whether it be in the same or another category.  In Play Acting or Group Interpretive Reading a school may not use the same cutting or script in two successive years, nor may it use a cutting or scene from its production in the Theatre Festival held during the same school year.  Students or groups may not reuse material they performed in Middle Level events.
    7. Generative artificial intelligence (AI)
      1. Speech categories: contestants are prohibited from quoting or paraphrasing text directly from generative AI sources. Generative AI should not be cited as a source. The exception is that a student delivering a speech about the topic of AI may quote AI to illustrate their points about AI, and cite that source, accordingly. Overall, while generative AI may be used to guide students to articles – including for Extemporaneous Speech – ideas, and sources, the original source of any quoted or paraphrased evidence must be available if requested.
      2. Performance of literature categories: where published material is required, students are prohibited from performing material created by generative AI sources. Overall, generative AI should not be used as a source of material; while generative AI may be used to guide students to articles, ideas, and material, the original source of any material that is performed must be available if requested. Students in all categories are prohibited from using generative AI to write introductions and transitions.
  6. Presentation
    1. Manner of delivery: The traditional modes of delivery in oral presentations are: impromptu (wholly spontaneous), extemporaneous (limited preparation and notes), memorized or manuscript. In certain categories manner in which a presentation – or portion of a presentation – is to be delivered is required by rule. If the manner of presentation is not required, the choice is up to the student. In any case, manner of delivery may enter into evaluation. If manner of delivery is required, the student may be evaluated on how well s/he executes the required manner. If delivery mode is student’s choice, the choice itself as well as quality of its execution may enter into evaluation.
    2. Notes/speaking/reading stand: For some categories, usage of notes is permitted.  When allowed, the student may use one or both sides of one 4”x6” paper note card to deliver speeches or a paper manuscript to recite literary material; in those cases, contestants may provide and utilize their own speaker/reading stand. The manner in which notes are used may enter into the overall evaluation.
    3. Use of staging and audio/visual material: the use of costumes, props, makeup, music, lighting and mechanical sound effects is prohibited in WISDAA categories. Obvious exceptions are those categories in which the use of chair(s), stools, desk, table, reading or speaker’s stand is expressly permitted, or for a speech where a visual aid may be an object. In no category is a host school responsible for providing any equipment for participants. See allowance for vocal music in §6.4.3.
    4. Time limits: Each category has a maximum time. Although there are no minimum time limits, unduly short presentations may be evaluated as insufficient responses to the burden of the category.
      1. Adjudicators shall time the entirety of each presentation (including introductions in performance of literature categories), except for a statement of which prescribed topic has been selected for Special Occasion or Storytelling.
      2. In all categories except Radio News Reporting, a 15-second grace period will be allowed after which one point will be deducted from the total.
      3. In performance of literature categories, vocal music, if used, must be incidental and no more than thirty (30) seconds total, after which there will be a one-point deduction.
    5. Prompters are not allowed in any category at any level of participation.
    6. Virtual provisions
      1. Videos of group/pair entries: video files uploaded for adjudication may be: (i). Recording of videoconference, with students in different locations, no post-production editing other than to piece together separate video files, or to correct audio/video sync or bandwidth issues. Simultaneous speaking does not work well in video conferences; or (ii). Captured in-person video capture, single-take, no post-production editing.
      2. Extemporaneous, Impromptu, Radio: the State Office will provide materials to coaches a 7-10 days before the video submission deadline. The coach will arrange three (3) times (one for each round) with each contestant (in-person, via videoconference, or via message) to share five questions, of which the contestant will select one. Each contestant presentation should be recorded and finalized with the coach within 45 minutes of receiving material (to allow time for technical considerations).
      3. Storytelling: Coaches will record a student’s presentation of each of the three stories and submit them in the order the stories are listed for the year.
  7. Adjudicators, ratings, and advancement
    1. One adjudicator for each section (room) is to be used for all levels of participation.
    2. At all WISDAA contests, adjudicators are required to hold currently active (nonexpired) WISDAA certification.
    3. Subdistrict, district, and state festivals require participating schools to supply a ratio of certified adjudicators based on number of entries. When entering multiple contests, such as for individual student scheduling conflicts (including in-person plus virtual), the school must supply adjudicators for each separate contest in which it has entries (e.g., a school has 2 entries at an in-person subdistrict and 2 entries in a virtual subdistrict – it must supply an adjudicator for each of those contests). At the State festival, schools must provide the ratio of adjudicators for each time slot in which it has entries (including virtual).
    4. Adjudicators shall rate each evaluation criterion 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, according to merit, provide written comment, and total the number of points.
    5. The main ballot is considered the adjudicator’s official record; once it has been submitted, no rating on that ballot may be changed except to correct a recording error.
    6. At subdistrict, an entry must earn 16 or more points from at least two of three adjudicators to advance to district. 
    7. At district, a student must earn 21 or more points from two of three adjudicators to advance to State.
  8. Awards
    1. Individual awards shall not be given at the subdistrict level.
    2. At their discretion, district chairs may order individual medals from the state office to give to “State Qualifiers.” No other individual or school awards may be given at the district festival.
    3. Participation certificates may be ordered from the State Office.  Any student who participates in a WISDAA Subdistrict, District or State Festival is eligible to receive a certificate.
    4. State contest
      1. Individual awards (lapel pin “medals”). Based on points earned by the entry: 25 points = Critic’s Choice (gold); 23-24 points = All State (silver); 20-22 points = Finalist (bronze); 5-19 points = Achievement (small bronze).
      2. Cumulative gold: students earning gold at four consecutive State festivals earn a Cumulative Critic’s Choice medallion. This process is automatic, but coaches may submit a claim for students not automatically recognized.
      3. School award (plaque): The 25-highest performing entries, up to one per student participating, receive team points for awards they earn: Gold = 4 points; Silver = 3 points; Bronze = 2 points; Small Bronze = 1 point. No ranking is published; if a school makes it to one of the thresholds below, they are recognized for excellence.
        1. Schools in the top 5% of team points are honored with Excellence in Speech awards.
        2. Schools in the top 6-10% of team points are honored with Distinction in Speech awards.
    5. Schools receiving awards, including certificates or plaques, are responsible for engraving specific information such as names and dates.
  9. Concerns/protests
    1. The state office shall appoint a referee committee to review complaints or appeals submitted after contests, including the State level.
    2. Each contest held should assemble a referee committee consisting of at least three people, with another as alternate. Any possible disqualifications or adjudication concerns shall be referred to this group for resolution.
    3. During a contest, individuals may register protests pertaining to violation of rules, which will be investigated by the referee committee for potential action.
    4. Adjudicator concerns
    5. Protesting adjudicator scores/comments: coaches, on behalf of themselves and/or their students, may protest an adjudicator’s application of a rule or criterion. The referee committee will review the complaint, but will not interpret adjudicators’ written comments, nor reconsider point deductions.
      1. At the contest, the referee committee will review the complaint and render a decision.
      2. After subdistrict or district: coaches may complete the “Adjudicator Concern Form” on the website Speech Contests page, including scan(s) of evaluation sheet(s) in question; this will be reviewed by the State Office, and if valid, referred to the committee enumerated in §8.1.
      3. Complaints must be received within five calendar days of the last round/time slot of any contest.
      4. For the State contest, decisions of the committee are final and cannot be appealed to the executive director or Board of Control since this committee is already an appeal of adjudication.
    6. Remediating ineffective adjudication: coaches may complete the form referenced in §, selecting “remediation of poor adjudication” as their requested action.
    7. In all cases where a referee committee and/or State Office find adjudication has been ineffective, the office will send written feedback to the adjudicator explaining the concern, and the concern will be documented in the adjudicator’s certification record. Each contest shall be considered as one incident. Once a third incident is received for a particular adjudicator, certification will be revoked until such time the adjudicator completes the Initial certification training process. Serious infractions involving discrimination and/or violation of law will result in permanent suspension of all WISDAA adjudicator certifications.
    8. For concerns determined to be invalid, the state office will share written feedback with the complainant, explaining why it is not a valid concern.
  10. Harassment & Discrimination: The Wisconsin Interscholastic Speech & Dramatic Arts Association is committed to fostering safe and supportive learning environments for all student participants and adults at our interscholastic events. This requires mutual respect on the part of all people present. Accordingly, WISDAA prohibits all forms of harassment and discrimination by and to any person, whether written or oral, based on race, color, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by any applicable federal, state, or local law. Individuals found to have violated this policy will be subject to a full range of sanctions, up to and including removal from the festival premises.
Updated on 01/10/2024
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