Speech: ML Rules Changes

2023-2024 #

The changes below represent alignment to the high school level changes made for this year, for consistency.

  1. Demonstration Speech renamed to “Informative/Demonstration Speech” with a broadened allowance for the 1-2 student(s) to explore and develop an informative speech to offer new information and/or fresh perspectives; aligns with other states’ category of Informative.
  2. Informative Speech renamed to “Expository Speech,” remains 4 minutes, but removes the allowance for visual aid to better reflect a narrow, simpler focus to simplify for less-experienced students; aligns with other states’ category of Expository.
  3. Pro/Con (pilot): inspired by the high school category Public Address “Pro-Con” option being offered this year, a student can develop two speeches of about 4 minutes apiece that present contrasting viewpoints/positions on one of the listed topics. Since many popular debate categories utilize opening/constructive speeches that are about 4 minutes, this is a perfect place for students to get a taste of debate!

2022-2023 #

No rules nor evaluations changes were made, other than annually changing category topics, formatting of overarching rules in the handbook, and incorporation of the harassment/discrimination policy in the handbook. Please see the 2021-22 tab for changes to scoring/awards made during the previous school year.

2021-2022 #

  1. All schools are required to register online, using SpeechWire, to enter official WHSFA Level 1 and 2 contests. The State Office will dispatch entries to the contests selected by the registering coach. Coaches may request virtual for any of their students, 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). SpeechWire will be provided free of charge for all Level 1 and 2 festivals; the State Office will communicate to hosts on how to access their contests.
  2. All Level 1 contestants will advance to Level 2, irrespective of ratings.
  3. Each of the five evaluation criteria on evaluation sheets will have standards-based ratings of: minimal, emerging, developing, proficient, and mastery.
  4. Evaluation sheets will change from the arbitrary As and Bs to an overall rating of excellence and merit. These will not be tied to the evaluation standards, but will be an overall recommendation by the adjudicator and will determine which award a student earns.
  5. For Level 1 festivals, certificates will be replaced by yellow and green ribbons, which will correspond with the overall rating of excellence (yellow) and merit (green). Level 2 will continue using blue and red, respectively.
  6. Moments in History: revised rule to stipulate that costumes may serve as a visual aid, but may not be worn. This is to discourage cultural appropriation, and to be consistent with rules in all other categories.
  7. Rules to Follow for each category were streamlined and arranged in a consistent manner; some rules were removed from individual category rules if they apply universally — such as those dealing with content and repetition of material or substitution of group members, since they’re covered in Middle Level Speech Rules & Policies. We conducted extensive review of grammar/sentence structure, along with delineating what should be part of category descriptions (top of the page) versus rules. Accordingly, evaluation criteria were reviewed, and made consistent across types of categories. Please review each category carefully to understand rules and evaluation criteria.

2020-2021 #

Special dispensations for the 2021 virtual season:

  1. Level 1 and 2 will be statewide contests (not regional), with prerecorded video submissions to be asynchronously adjudicated during windows of dates.
  2. For virtual participation, coaches should avoid identifying their school in submitted videos/video channels.
  3. Group entries may be recordings of videoconference (such as Zoom) or recorded in-person with students socially distanced, not touching, and wearing masks. Limiting groups to 2-3 students is encouraged.
  4. Only one adjudicator qualifying score (instead of two) is required to move from Level 1 to 2. Two A-level scores will still be required to earn a blue ribbon at Level 2. All Level 1 participants will receive a sticker.
  5. There will be no overall team entry limits.
  6. A synchronous Debate Festival will be offered as a separate contest for any interested schools; students may enter this as well as their normal Speech category.
  7. At a later date (early December), WHSFA will announce additional, specific guidelines for video submission, as well as penalties for violations of rules as provided for this virtual season.

2019-2020 #

No rules changes were made for this season. Please review changes for the past two school years, just to refresh your memory! Full rules can be found in the Middle Level Handbook.

2018-2019 #

  1. Specified all WHSFA events are open to the public. Interscholastic contests are open to spectators; central to the educational objective of fostering public speaking involves audiences.
  2. A general meeting with adjudicators is required before all Level 1 and 2 festivals.
  3. Clarified that note cards or paper notes may be used, but are subject to evaluation.
  4. Changed Four-Minute Speech to Informative Speech and Eight-Minute to Persuasive Speech.
  5. Added allowance for visual supporting materials in Informative and Persuasive Speech, and added evaluation question for all speeches allowing visual aids that the speaker actively used them well to illustrate.
  6. Play Acting and Readers Theatre changed to a 10-minute time limit.
  7. Specify rule with costuming for Group Interpretive Reading and Play Acting: “merely dressing alike or coordinated outfits is not considered costuming” (see photo, above and to the right)
  8. Substitution rules (p. 5, #3) clarified (allows for any eligible student to substitute for an absent group member).

2017-2018 #

  1. Coach note: Middle level advisors who also coach high school should use the same email address in SpeechWire when registering for contests. Include middle and high school students on the Team roster, in Your account (denote middle level students with high school graduation years).
  2. Festival hosts/managers:
    1. SpeechWire is free for taking online registration, scheduling rounds, and for tabulating results for WHSFA Level 1 and Level 2 contests; apply through the state office.
    2. All schools participating in Level 1 or 2 contests must be current in WHSFA dues before the office will reimburse contest expenses. We will provide hosts/managers with a list of membership status.
    3. The post-festival participation/reimbursement form must be completed online, <– click link, or within SpeechWire.
Updated on 01/02/2024
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