If you’ve been around NCFCA for any length of time, you’ll notice the addition of actual ranks through to 8th place on this year’s speech ballots. The purpose behind the feedback NCFCA competitors receive on ballots continues to be facilitating personal growth in developing communication skills to be used for God’s glory. Competition is the means to refine these skills, but is not the end goal.
To provide some context, judges have always been required to rank students from 1st to 8th place on a judge worksheet. These ranks provide the necessary data to accurately tabulate results. The individual ballot each competitor received at the end of the tournament used one “5th and below” category to indicate any rank below 4th place. This system was an effort to balance the competitive aspect of our mission with the desire to not discourage those who were not ranked in the top half of the room.
For 2021, we will eliminate the “5th and below” designation and allow competitors to see exactly where they placed in the room based on the assessment of that judge. We believe that while a low rank could discourage or frustrate some, including the specific ranks will allow students to see improvements from round to round or from tournament to tournament. Many parents, coaches, and students over the years have expressed that a season full of “5th and below” does not help students identify personal successes. We want the student who receives a 5th or 6th place ballot after a tournament of 7ths and 8ths to be encouraged! A competitor who has never advanced to elimination rounds might be highly motivated by knowing that a judge ranked his speech 5th out of 8 speakers﹘so close to the top half of the room from that judge’s perspective. Or what might a student learn about how to connect with a broad audience if she knows she received ranks of 1st, 2nd…and 8th during a single round?
Parents and coaches should continue to help competitors evaluate and respond to rankings by encouraging them to recognize that growth is multifaceted and that success is not always defined by a final placing. In competition, numerical improvement is just one means of measuring growth. Persevering in spite of difficulties, becoming more comfortable with speaking, growing in a biblical worldview, and developing a meaningful message are examples of valuable progress! Our goal is to provide students the opportunity to assess their development through feedback on the ballots and to motivate them to grow in communicating with integrity and grace.
Look for the 2021 speech ballots to be published in the NCFCA Resource Library this week!