1st and 2nd Year National Championships at Woodward Academy

2018 — Atlanta, GA/US

Judging Guidelines

We hope to make this a special educational experience for your debaters. Since only less experienced debaters will be competing at this tournament, it will be possible for your most experienced junior and senior varsity debaters to judge at the tournament. To judge at the tournament, each judge (varsity debaters and coaches alike) will be required to post his/her judge philosophy to Tabroom. Junior and senior debaters who are entered as judges should have a minimum of one full year of varsity debate experience (minimum of 30 varsity rounds) and should be very familiar with the resolutions (either having debated or judged during the season). Only debaters in their fourth year of debate may judge in Second Year divisions.  Experienced debaters in their third year may judge in First Year only.  Adult judges must have similar experience. Judges are obligated to stay one round beyond their school’s elimination from the tournament.

One judge is required for every two Policy entries. One judge is required for every three LD entries. You may not enter judges who are only able to judge First Year divisions to cover judging commitments in Second Year divisions.

You must specifically request hired judging through Tabroom. We will fulfill hired judge requests in the order that they are received. We have a limited number of hired judges available, so please make your requests early. Once we have accepted a hired judge request, the hired judge fee is non-refundable, even if you drop the team.

We politely request that adult coaches make themselves available for at least some judging — even if only a round or two. We will happily let you select which round(s). Thank you for helping us provide students with exceptional judging befitting a national championship.


Student Judge Policies

Students attending the tournament as either participants or judges must be the responsibility of the debate coach at the school the student attends. If you wish to hire another school's student to judge, you must contact the coach of that school to make sure that they are willing and able to be responsible for the student for the duration of the event. The coach of the school that the student attends must email us to let us know that they know that their student has been hired by another school and are willing to take responsibility for their own student. Coaches hiring student judges from other schools have an affirmative obligation to ensure that this requirement is fulfilled. If we become aware of violations of this requirement, we will immediately withdraw that school's entries from the tournament.

Our policy is that judges may be used in both divisions to maximize the flexibility of the pool and therefore ensure that coaches receive sufficient rounds off to enjoy our hospitality. Whenever possible, we will adjust judging commitments so that student judges are used exhaustively while adult judges are used strategically to provide excellent judging in the most competitive rounds. This is not always possible given the constraints we are operating under but we will do our best.

We consider all student judges to have "full commitments" for the purposes of ballot assignment both because we assume that all student-judges would like to judge as many debates as possible and because we do not want to be responsible for unsupervised high school students on our campus. If student-judges are not available for a particular round because they have another obligation off-campus, please let us know. Whenever a student-judge is on our campus, however, they must be available to judge.

Awards will be presented at this year’s awards ceremony to honor the best student-judges in Policy and Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Recipients will be determined by our tab room staff based on the following criteria: responsibility (starting rounds on-time, protecting classroom spaces, professional conduct, etc.), ballot writing (appropriate balance of completeness and brevity, balance of positive comments and constructive criticism, etc.), and feedback from others. Students and coaches are encouraged to highlight the good work of student-judges to our tab staff either in-person or on Twitter (@woodwarddebate). Positive feedback from students about judges that voted against them will be especially persuasive. Recipients will receive a framed certificate and will be recognized at our awards ceremony.


Division Assignments

If requested, judges can be assigned only to a particular division. There are two common reasons that coaches make this request:

1. A particular judge is best suited to adjudicate first year debates and would feel more comfortable in that pool.

2. A school has entries in only one division and would like their judge(s) to exclusively judge in that division.

Both of these requests are eminently reasonable and will be accepted in all cases.

Sometimes we also receive requests from judges that they not be used in the first year division because they believe themselves to be "too good" for those rounds. We don't react well to these requests. Because our goal is to provide outstanding judging to the students competing in both of our divisions, we do not feel that a ballot assignment in the first year division is any less important than a ballot assignment in the second year division. Those that believe themselves to be "too good" to judge in the first year division are actually, in our minds, "not good enough".


Constraints & Conflicts

With many student-judges in the pool, it is particularly important that judges be appropriately constrained from adjudicating debates in which they have a conflict of interest. We request that coaches communicate the importance of this to their judges—and especially their student-judges—in advance of the tournament so that we can minimize the number of changes required after the release of pairings.

We will leave it up to coaches to determine what constitutes a conflict but it is best to err on the side of caution and add constraints for students with whom a judge has a personal relationship. In the past, we have often also received complaints after a pairing is released in the second year division from teams who are being judged by a student-judge that they have previously debated (and therefore may feel cannot impartially adjudicate the round). If coaches foresee this happening, please enter the appropriate constraints before the tournament so that we do not need to make last-minute changes.


Judge Responsibilities

Judges should assign one and only one win and one and only one loss in each debate such that one team is assigned a win and the other is assigned a loss. Each debater should be assigned speaker points on a .1 scale with no ties between debaters. Students should also be ranked 1-4 with 1 being best.  We will provide a recommended speaker points scale. The judge that is assigned to judge a particular debate by the tabroom must judge that debate.


Judges are asked to provide written feedback on their Tabroom ballots. At minimum, we expect that judges will provide a basic written summary of their reason for decision. Especially in the first year divisions, we also expect that judges will provide additional comments aimed at helping students to improve. Judges in all divisions are expected to disclose their decision and provide oral comments to the debaters after submitting their electronic ballot on Tabroom. Please do not wait to finish written comments before submitting the electronic ballot; written comments can be added later via the judges' Tabroom dashboard.