[eDebate] 100 Point Scale Thoughts

Matt Struth mstruth
Tue Sep 22 16:35:23 CDT 2009

First of all, GSU was a great first coaching/judging experience for me so
thanks to tournament and tab staff for that.

Since the tournament I've been looking at the points and thinking about the
100 point scale and how it is evolving. Mostly, I wanted to revive
discussion of why we use the 100 point scale to make sure that it doesn't
fall prey to the same problems it was designed to avoid, and personally I
want to make sure that I don't hurt peoples' points relative to the
community by being in a minority view on 'point inflation' (if there is a
point inflation trend I wouldn't want to buck it and unfairly punish people
who get me as a judge). At GSU I did not feel 100% comfortable assigning
points- after talking to a couple of people and looking over the results, I
feel much more comfortable now, but I would feel even better if there was a
larger discussion in the community about this.

I want to caution that I am a novice when it comes to this type of analysis,
and am certainly no 'numbers game.' I also have not examined / compared
point distribution in depth, but here are some things I looked at/for:

-Point inflation- is it happening to the 100 point scale and if so what is
the impact? I looked at the points from GSU 09 and Wake 08 and found
that(just by comparatively spot-checking several of the top 20
speakers at each)
there seems to be a general trend of point inflation (number 1 speaker at
GSU is higher than number 1 at Wake, and so-on). This seems especially
striking since its the first tournament for most people- I would expect
points to be higher at Wake than GSU.

-Half points - Ross originally posted that he created the 100 point scale
instead of a 50 point variant in order to eliminate half points. The 07 Wake
100 point instructions also say to avoid half points. I didn't compare
against other tournaments, but GSU did have 1/2 points being awarded. At
future 100 point tournaments, should be award half points or should we avoid

-Point differentiation / compression- at GSU, the ballot specified 87 as an
average, but do we want 87 to be the average? Separate from the issue of
inflation, if the point of the RKS scale is to create an opportunity to
differentiate among speakers, it seems like 87 is not the best average. If
87 is the average than half of the field should fall below and half above-
this means there are 86 units to differentiate the bottom half of the field
(even if most aren't used) and only only 12 units to differentiate the top
half of the field. This doesn't make sense to me, and creates the same
conundrum where we ended up giving four very differently skilled debaters
28s. Maybe the average should be 80, instead of 87? I think the point is
most people agree there is a general ever-existent trend toward inflation
and compression. I think our job should be to do what we can to make it take
longer, partly by continuing to talk about why we use the 100 point scale.
Hopefully this will ensure that we aren't using a 1,000 point scale in 2012.

LU Debate

Links I looked at for anyone else interested in this:
GSU 09 results sheet-
GSU 09 top speakers-
Wake 08 results sheet-
Wake 08 top speakers-
Wake Shirley information packet w/ 100 point directions and graph-
Wake 07 point distribution graph-

Original 100 point explanation (which I looked up mostly for my benefit, but
thought others might want to see again too):
Most debaters at our tournament are in the range between the high 70?s and
low 90?s.
For the more verbally inclined: Think of grades. 90% and above is an A.
80-90 is a B. Assume you are a very kind professor who will give mostly A's
B's and does not want to buck the grade inflation trend (it is unfair to do
so since it punishes students relative to their peers
merely for having you as the prof., not for the quality of their work).
We have a national tournament with a limited field, so most of the students
will be A and B students.
I suspect there are more B students than there are A students (bell curves
being what they are). You might usefully think of
the A students as the ones that debate well enough that they are likely in
the top third of the field.
It should be no source of shame to a student to get a B. A B+ might be
saying you are close to getting there.

For those who like to think in other terms, maybe this will help (just a
rough guide):
95-100 ? No doubt top notch, hard to be much better.
90-95 ? Really good, highly effective.
85-90: Powerful but not extraordinary. Workmanlike break round style.
80-85: Good stuff, but missing what it takes to break into the top
national level.
75-80: Decent. More than one area needs improvement.
70-75: Struggling. Probably bravely and nobly, but struggling nonetheless.
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