Scorer Instructions for Congress

Writing Ballots

Speakers: Use a single paper ballot for up to three speeches by the same speaker. Start a new ballot for the student’s fourth speech. For electronic ballots, enter each speech separately.

Please do NOT write ballots for questions or motions. Please do NOT skip spaces on the ballot, even if a speaker didn’t speak on a particular topic.

Evaluate each speech on its own merit using the judging criteria below and award a score from 1 to 6. Higher scores are better. You should write as many comments as possible while the student is speaking to identify what was done well and how s/he can improve. Scores of 1 or 2 must be justified with comments on the ballot.

Presiding Officer: Complete the separate Presiding Officer ballot in your judge folder. Use the 1 to 6 scale on the ballot regardless of the length of the session. Higher scores are better. You should write as many comments as possible during the session to identify what was done well and how the PO can improve. Scores of 1 or 2 must be justified with comments on the ballot.

Point Scale for ballots

5Above Average
3Below Average
2Poor (explain w/ comments)
1Inappropriate (justify to Tab)

Judging Criteria for Speakers

  • Delivery: Is the speech clear? Is it persuasive? Does the speaker demonstrate poise?
  • Originality of Thought: Does the speaker demonstrate that s/he has listened to others in the debate? Does s/he respond to issues raised in the debate? Does the speech advance debate?
  • Organization and Coherence: Does the speech ramble, or does it develop? Is the speech easy to follow? Are the speaker’s purpose and focus clear?
  • Evidence and Logical Basis: How many sources are referenced? Are the sources credible? Does the speaker use logic in the development of arguments?

Judging Criteria for Presiding Officers

  • Has the PO called on speakers in a manner that was fair and consistent?
  • Has the PO used procedure correctly, and in a way that makes the chamber run smoothly?
  • Has the PO kept control of the chamber, but without becoming autocratic or tyrannical?
  • Has the PO conducted herself/himself with decorum and dignity?

Additional Scoring Guidance

  • Since the purpose of Student Congress is to advance debate on the policies presented through legislation, speeches from the floor should do so rather than rehash previously delivered arguments. A quality speech may be presented even if it does not run three minutes.
  • DO NOT evaluate speakers on their use of parliamentary procedure in scoring their speeches. If a student is out of order, the Presiding Officer and/or the Parliamentarian will correct the problem. You should, however, take appropriate use of procedure into account when making your rankings.
  • Do not give speakers low points solely because they raise controversial issues or points you believe to be false. Each speaker is entitled to her/his position and should be scored based on how well s/he communicates and supports that position.

Ranking Legislators

At the end of the session, select and rank (from 1 to 8, where 1 is best) the students who, in your opinion, contributed the most to the session. List these students (name and code) in rank order on your Master Ballot (ranking form). Although speaking and presiding should weigh most heavily in your decisions, we are looking for your overall impression of the students’ performance and contributions. Please do NOT simply rank the students who scored the most points!

The Presiding Officer (PO) is eligible to be ranked and MUST be considered. The PO gave up the opportunity to speak in order to lead the session, and her/his effective leadership is a contribution to the session that is at least as significant as effective speaking. If you do not rank the PO, you will be required to initial the appropriate space on your Master Ballot, and you should explain your decision on the PO’s ballot.

Please submit your completed ballots within 15 minutes of the end of the session.

Good luck! Enjoy the session!