Rules: Middle Level Speech

Full Handbook #

Rules & Policies for Middle Level Speech #

  1. Categories offered: Expository Speech, Extemporaneous Speech, Informative/Demonstration Speech, Moments in History Speech, News Reporting, Non-Original Oratory, Persuasive Speech, Play Acting, Poetry Reading, Prose Reading, Readers Theatre, Solo Acting, Special Occasion Speech, Storytelling, and Pro-Con Speeches (pilot).
  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. Festivals are open to the public, but subject to individual host school/institution visitor policies; adjudicators may remind spectators to be respectful, and may only ask people to leave when they are being disruptive.
    7. Any entry may be changed from in-person to virtual or vice versa at any point during the season, but may perform at each contest level (Level 1, Level 2) only once.
    8. 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 Level 1 and Level 2.
    1. Festivals shall consist of three rounds of participation. All students must participate in three rounds unless permission has been granted by the State Office in an emergency situation.
    2. Festival sites are determined by coaches who volunteer to host, and who complete the official form on the WISDAA website.
    3. Festival managers determine registration fees and adjudicator honoraria.
    4. Coaches may designate individual entries or an entire middle level team to participate in the State Office-run virtual contest at any level
  4. Registration: Entries must be registered online via SpeechWire beginning with Level 1 to be eligible to advance; festival managers have the right to require entering schools to honor reasonable entry deadlines.
    1. The State Office will dispatch entries to the contests selected by the registering coach. Coaches may request any of their entries to participate virtually, as long as they provide a ratio of adjudicators to students entering each contest independent of the other (e.g., if a school has 2 entries participating at an in-person festival and 2 entries participating virtually, it must provide an adjudicator for each).
    2. An entry is defined as an individual student, except for two-person Demonstration Speech entries, 1- 3 students in News Reporting, or groups of 2-7 students in Play Acting and Readers Theatre.
    3. In the event member(s) of a group entry as defined in §4.2 are unable to appear at a Festival, any other eligible student(s) may be substituted.
    4. In the WISDAA Level 1 and Level 2 festivals, a student may not “double enter,” or represent their school in more than one category during the same year, with the exception of substitution as part of §4.3.
    5. 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. Changing or revision of material is permitted for the next level and required in News Reporting.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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. High school students or groups may not reuse material they performed in Middle Level events.
    5. 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; 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/visual material: In general, the use of costumes, props, makeup, music, lighting and mechanical sound effects is prohibited; obvious exceptions are those categories in which the use of chair(s), stools, desk, table, reading or speaker’s stand is expressly permitted. In no category is a host school responsible for providing any equipment for participants.
    4. Time Limits: Each category has a maximum time. Although there are no minimum time limits, presentations that are unduly short may be regarded as insufficient responses to the burden of the category and may affect the overall evaluation.
      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.
    5. Prompters: While prompters may distract from overall effectiveness of presentations, they are not prohibited by rule at the middle level.
    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: Using the list of Extemporaneous questions, the coach will arrange three (3) times (one for each round) to meet with each contestant (in-person, via videoconference, or via message), will share five questions, of which the contestant will select one – and may not duplicate any question for any given contest. Each contestant presentation should be recorded and finalized with the coach within 45 minutes of receiving material (to allow time for technical considerations).
  7. Adjudicators, ratings, and advancement
    1. SpeechWire is provided free of charge for all Level 1 and 2 festivals to use for scheduling and tabulation; the State Office will communicate to hosts on how to access their contests. At minimum, all Level 1 and 2 festivals are required to report results via SpeechWire.
    2. One adjudicator for each section (room) is to be used for all levels of participation.
    3. At WISDAA middle level Speech contests, adjudicators are encouraged to obtain and hold WISDAA certification.
    4. Level 1 and 2 festivals require participating schools to supply a ratio of 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 Level 1 and 2 entries in the Virtual Level 1 festival – it must supply an adjudicator for each of those contests).
    5. Adjudicators will select ratings for each evaluation criterion as a frame of reference for contestants and their coaches, where 1=minimal, 2=emerging, 3=developing, 4=proficient, and 5=mastery. These will not be totaled/added.
    6. Adjudicators will award each entry an overall rating of “Merit” or “Excellence” for their performance.
    7. The master 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.
    8. All contestants participating in a Level 1 contest are eligible to participate in a Level 2 contest. There is no rating requirement to advance.
  8. Awards: Students will earn the following awards at the respective contests, with each student in a group entry earning a ribbon:
    1. Level 1: at least two ratings of Excellence – Yellow ribbon; otherwise, a Green ribbon
    2. Level 2: at least two ratings of Excellence – Blue ribbon; otherwise, a Red ribbon
  9. Concerns/protests
    1. The state office shall appoint a referee committee to review complaints or appeals submitted after contests.
    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
      1. 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 Level 1 or 2 festivals: coaches may complete the “Adjudicator Concern Form” on the website Middle Level > 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 §7.1.
        3. Complaints must be received within five calendar days of the last round/time slot of any contest.
      2. Remediating ineffective adjudication: coaches may complete the form referenced in §, selecting “remediation of poor adjudication” as their requested action.
      3. 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.
      4. 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 01/02/2024
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