IHSA Advisory Committee

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IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Deviant Insider » Wed May 05, 2010 10:45 pm

My notes from today's IHSA Advisory Meeting:

All members were there except Matariyeh. The two nonmembers there were Grierson and me.

The seeding process will stay pretty much the same, in person and at the Sectional level. When teams enter their record online, they will be asked whether or not they want to host a Regional, and geography will be the main factor when selecting Regional hosts rather than the top four seeds.

We clarified that there is no penalty for blurting on a bonus.

Moderators are now allowed to prompt more than once on a question as long as all answers given so far are correct, relevant, and incomplete.

Players are now allowed to initiate appeals. Coaches are still in charge of making sure that only one person makes the appeal.

Stipulations are not limiting. In other words, if the question asks for a two word answer but the student gives a correct three word answer, then the answer is correct.

The distribution wording of Science B, Math C, Social Studies C, and Language Arts B is that questions can be drawn from categories such as, but not limited to, ... The ... are the subcategories listed in the pdf I forwarded earlier put together by Grierson. Fine Arts is 2/2 Visual Arts, at least 1/1 Art History and at most 1/1 Art Theory and Technique, and 2/2 Music, at least 1/1 Classical Music/Opera and at most 1/1 can be drawn from categories such as, but not limited to, ... Miscellaneous is back to its old self, 2/2 drawn from four out of ten categories. Drivers Ed is still with us.

Only major categories will be announced before questions, not subcategories.

4-5 Math is computational, at most 1 Science is computational, no other questions are computational, and multi-clue is at the discretion of the writer.

Players need to have technology put away. Only coaches, school officials, and subs can sit at the coaches tables at State, but coaches can confer with people not sitting at the table.

Regionals will be on Pulaski Day.

Nothing was done regarding question quality, since the Advisory Committee does not have much control over that issue. If you have any suggestions for improving question quality, you can still contact McGraw, and you should cc anybody you know of who works on the questions.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by jonah » Wed May 05, 2010 10:50 pm

Westwon wrote:The distribution wording of Science B, Math C, Social Studies C, and Language Arts B is that questions can be drawn from categories such as, but not limited to, ... The ... are the subcategories listed in the pdf I forwarded earlier put together by Grierson. Fine Arts is 2/2 Visual Arts, at least 1/1 Art History and at most 1/1 Art Theory and Technique, and 2/2 Music, at least 1/1 Classical Music/Opera and at most 1/1 can be drawn from categories such as, but not limited to, ... Miscellaneous is back to its old self, 2/2 drawn from four out of ten categories. Drivers Ed is still with us.
The ... are as follows, where * denotes a new category:
  • Science B: astronomy, earth science, health sciences, environmental science*, archaeology/paleontology*
  • Math C: number theory, probability, statistics, combinatorics, topology*, set theory*
  • Social Studies C: psychology, sociology, religion, economics, philosophy, political science
  • Language Arts B: grammar/usage, spelling, speech, vocabulary
  • Fine Arts: jazz, musical theatre, music theory, composers of the modern era*, performers in the rock & roll hall of fame*
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed May 05, 2010 10:56 pm

jonah wrote:[*]Fine Arts: ...performers in the rock & roll hall of fame*[/list]
what
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Boeing X-20, Please! » Wed May 05, 2010 10:58 pm

jonah wrote: performers in the rock & roll hall of fame*
Yesssssssssssssssss. I can't believe Grierson passed this.

EDIT: The best part about it is that it's not just Rock and Roll is in the FA distribution, it's that it's the most random subcategory ever that's limited to only like 150 groups.
Last edited by Boeing X-20, Please! on Wed May 05, 2010 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Alejandro » Wed May 05, 2010 11:02 pm

jonah wrote: [*]Math C: ... topology* ...
What kind of topics are being covered in topology? Topology is not normally covered in high school, even at advanced levels.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by jonah » Wed May 05, 2010 11:03 pm

Alejandro wrote:
jonah wrote:[*]Math C: ... topology* ...
What kind of topics are being covered in topology? Topology is not normally covered in high school, even at advanced levels.
We have no idea, but I can guarantee it will be a disaster.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Deviant Insider » Wed May 05, 2010 11:14 pm

On those minor categories, keep in mind the list is a guideline so that new coaches/players can see what types of questions are in the category. Other than Miscellaneous, it will be worded differently than it has been, so it is possible for some of those minor subcategories to not result in any questions, or for subcategories not listed to get questions.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by jonah » Wed May 05, 2010 11:16 pm

Westwon wrote:it is possible for some of those minor subcategories to not result in any questions
I don't see this happening. The rules have previously allowed for enumerated subcategories not to be represented anywhere in the set, but the editor seems to feel that every subcategory must appear.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Boeing X-20, Please! » Wed May 05, 2010 11:22 pm

Man, now the only way we're going to see a TU on Paul Cezanne is if the Special Guests get inducted.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Dan-Don » Thu May 06, 2010 12:09 am

Utahraptor wrote:
jonah wrote: performers in the rock & roll hall of fame*
Yesssssssssssssssss. I can't believe Grierson passed this.
Just like his prime.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Golran » Thu May 06, 2010 1:07 am

jonah wrote:
Alejandro wrote:
jonah wrote:[*]Math C: ... topology* ...
What kind of topics are being covered in topology? Topology is not normally covered in high school, even at advanced levels.
We have no idea, but I can guarantee it will be a disaster.
Generally the idea of an open or closed set is covered in high school, and that's part of topology, and maybe can ask about the Mobius strip or Klein Bottle, maybe the Poincare conjecture wouldn't be too hard.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by abnormal abdomen » Thu May 06, 2010 1:13 am

Westwon wrote:My notes from today's IHSA Advisory Meeting:

We clarified that there is no penalty for blurting on a bonus.
Otherwise known as The Abid Rule.

So I feel like question quality should PROBABLY be a pretty big deal.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by jonah » Thu May 06, 2010 1:14 am

Golran wrote:
jonah wrote:
Alejandro wrote:
jonah wrote:[*]Math C: ... topology* ...
What kind of topics are being covered in topology? Topology is not normally covered in high school, even at advanced levels.
We have no idea, but I can guarantee it will be a disaster.
Generally the idea of an open or closed set is covered in high school, and that's part of topology, and maybe can ask about the Mobius strip or Klein Bottle, maybe the Poincare conjecture wouldn't be too hard.
In my experience*, open and closed sets aren't discussed in general—just the concept of open and closed intervals, without the generalization. I wrote a tossup on closure for NTV, using clues about both algebraic and topological closure, but I don't think that would be advisable for a tournament with as broad an audience as IHSA; and besides, it wouldn't've been workable at all without the algebraic closure clues, which the IHSA editor (if she has any idea about the difference, which I doubt) would not allow due to a belief in strict demarcation of categories.

The Möbius strip: yes, at Sectionals or State. The Klein bottle and Poincaré conjecture: maybe as a hard bonus part at State, but that's still pushing it.

Even if all five of those ideas were eminently workable, a category that can only sustain five decent answers should not exist. Furthermore, due to the prevalence of computation in Illinois Scholastic Bowl, I bet someone is going to attempt to write computational topology questions. Gift-wrapping algorithm in thirty seconds, anyone?

*Excluding the Calc III class I took in high school, which is not something that the vast majority of high schools offer.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by jonah » Thu May 06, 2010 1:31 am

Your Cup of Robust Tea wrote:So I feel like question quality should PROBABLY be a pretty big deal.
Agreed. But Reinstein is right in that there is little that the AdCo can do about that. The AdCo is thus in the position of having to make rules about things that should be at the editor's discretion, but when that editor has been granted such discretion, she has exercised very poor judgment. Even choosing the editor is not up to the AdCo—it is a decision McGraw makes unilaterally.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Thu May 06, 2010 8:46 am

jonah wrote:
Golran wrote:
jonah wrote:
Alejandro wrote:
jonah wrote:[*]Math C: ... topology* ...
What kind of topics are being covered in topology? Topology is not normally covered in high school, even at advanced levels.
We have no idea, but I can guarantee it will be a disaster.
Generally the idea of an open or closed set is covered in high school, and that's part of topology, and maybe can ask about the Mobius strip or Klein Bottle, maybe the Poincare conjecture wouldn't be too hard.
In my experience*, open and closed sets aren't discussed in general—just the concept of open and closed intervals, without the generalization. I wrote a tossup on closure for NTV, using clues about both algebraic and topological closure, but I don't think that would be advisable for a tournament with as broad an audience as IHSA; and besides, it wouldn't've been workable at all without the algebraic closure clues, which the IHSA editor (if she has any idea about the difference, which I doubt) would not allow due to a belief in strict demarcation of categories.

The Möbius strip: yes, at Sectionals or State. The Klein bottle and Poincaré conjecture: maybe as a hard bonus part at State, but that's still pushing it.

Even if all five of those ideas were eminently workable, a category that can only sustain five decent answers should not exist. Furthermore, due to the prevalence of computation in Illinois Scholastic Bowl, I bet someone is going to attempt to write computational topology questions. Gift-wrapping algorithm in thirty seconds, anyone?

*Excluding the Calc III class I took in high school, which is not something that the vast majority of high schools offer.
To be completely honest, I never even covered it in college while earning a math degree. It's a ridiculously corner case topic that could easily be replaced or removed.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Boeing X-20, Please! » Thu May 06, 2010 10:56 am

Jonah wrote:The Möbius strip: .... yes Sectionals... The Klein bottle ....maybe hard bonus part at State, but that's still pushing it.
If you know what a Möbius Strip is you should probably know what a Klein Bottle is.

More importantly,
Even choosing the editor is not up to the AdCo—it is a decision McGraw makes unilaterally
So, will anybody notable 'run' for this when whoever the current editor may be finally relinquishes her position, or who is the suspect for who McGraw will appoint?
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Charbroil » Thu May 06, 2010 11:56 am

Utahraptor wrote:
Jonah wrote:The Möbius strip: .... yes Sectionals... The Klein bottle ....maybe hard bonus part at State, but that's still pushing it.
If you know what a Möbius Strip is you should probably know what a Klein Bottle is.
I mean, I know what a Möbius Strip is and don't know what a Klein bottle is--I think the former is famous enough in popular culture that it's going to be reasonable well known, as opposed to the latter.

Also, even if people know what a Möbius Strip is, are they sufficiently well understood by most high schoolers for them to answer any early clues about it? If not, I'd say that this is still a bad answer choice.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by jdeliverer » Thu May 06, 2010 1:07 pm

Charbroil wrote:
Utahraptor wrote:
Jonah wrote:The Möbius strip: .... yes Sectionals... The Klein bottle ....maybe hard bonus part at State, but that's still pushing it.
If you know what a Möbius Strip is you should probably know what a Klein Bottle is.
I mean, I know what a Möbius Strip is and don't know what a Klein bottle is--I think the former is famous enough in popular culture that it's going to be reasonable well known, as opposed to the latter.

Also, even if people know what a Möbius Strip is, are they sufficiently well understood by most high schoolers for them to answer any early clues about it? If not, I'd say that this is still a bad answer choice.
I agree that the Möbius strip for whatever reason has had much more exposure in popular culture. I think anyone who has done any research on or has taken a class involving Möbius strips will get early clues, while people who have only heard of it in passing will get it on the later clues. That seems pretty acceptable for a tossup.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Charbroil » Thu May 06, 2010 1:29 pm

Generic Illinois Poster #892 wrote:I agree that the Möbius strip for whatever reason has had much more exposure in popular culture. I think anyone who has done any research on or has taken a class involving Möbius strips will get early clues, while people who have only heard of it in passing will get it on the later clues. That seems pretty acceptable for a tossup.
Are there many high schoolers who do this? I'm not saying a Möbius strip isn't an acceptable answer at any level, but I fail to see how it's reasonable at the high school level.

Also, to generalize this issue, isn't this true for many of the IHSA's more unfortunate answer choices?
Last edited by Charbroil on Fri May 07, 2010 1:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Geringer » Thu May 06, 2010 2:43 pm

I don't think anyone has pointed out yet that getting rid of announced sub-categories is a huge step in the right direction. I mean, almost every problem with announced categories pertains to ridiculously specific sub-categories, and taking this step eliminates a lot of those problems, I think.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Dan-Don » Thu May 06, 2010 3:22 pm

Utahraptor wrote:
Jonah wrote:The Möbius strip: .... yes Sectionals... The Klein bottle ....maybe hard bonus part at State, but that's still pushing it.
If you know what a Möbius Strip is you should probably know what a Klein Bottle is.
Even I know what those are. ITT I master the IHSA math canon.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by CometCoach72 » Thu May 06, 2010 10:09 pm

KHAAAAN please wrote:I don't think anyone has pointed out yet that getting rid of announced sub-categories is a huge step in the right direction.

This is only a step in the right direction because it gives the IHSA an out that did not exist in 2010. There were a minimum of two rounds in the State Series where the distribution was not as advertised in the Terms & Conditions with respect to the sub-categories; this will fix that for next year (in a coach's eyes).
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by jonah » Thu May 06, 2010 10:38 pm

CometCoach72 wrote:
KHAAAAN please wrote:I don't think anyone has pointed out yet that getting rid of announced sub-categories is a huge step in the right direction.
This is only a step in the right direction because it gives the IHSA an out that did not exist in 2010. There were a minimum of two rounds in the State Series where the distribution was not as advertised in the Terms & Conditions with respect to the sub-categories; this will fix that for next year (in a coach's eyes).
I have to disagree with you there, Jay. While I suppose this can be used as a band-aid for ignoring the subdistributions, more importantly it solves a lot of transparency issues. Jeff is right; this is a big improvement.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Dan-Don » Fri May 07, 2010 12:05 am

jonah wrote:
CometCoach72 wrote:
KHAAAAN please wrote:I don't think anyone has pointed out yet that getting rid of announced sub-categories is a huge step in the right direction.
This is only a step in the right direction because it gives the IHSA an out that did not exist in 2010. There were a minimum of two rounds in the State Series where the distribution was not as advertised in the Terms & Conditions with respect to the sub-categories; this will fix that for next year (in a coach's eyes).
I have to disagree with you there, Jay. While I suppose this can be used as a band-aid for ignoring the subdistributions, more importantly it solves a lot of transparency issues. Jeff is right; this is a big improvement.
Yeah but I'm guessing the IHSA did this to cover their butts in the event of misdistributed rounds. Transparency isn't really an issue to them. They probably just think that Siva knew a lot about Zenger.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Deviant Insider » Fri May 07, 2010 6:48 am

I believe the proposal originally came from Jonah, and I was at the table when it was approved by coaches. It is not an IHSA conspiracy.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by CometCoach72 » Sat May 08, 2010 11:28 am

I really don't think that the issues related to the sub-categories affected the outcome of any particular match, however, I can see where a coach would want to cry foul if his/her team lost a close match because there were one too many art questions and one too few music questions. Please do not misunderstand me, the proposal is a good idea, because it does offer more flexibility to the team of writers and the editor. Regardless of where the proposal originated, it does a good thing and fixes a problem. I'm simply pointing out the fact that it gives the writers and editor some flexibility that past practice did not. With what I have heard about the writing process, how can this possibly be bad?
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by mrgsmath » Sat May 08, 2010 6:34 pm

I am curious about the change to regional hosts. I can see the advantages to Class AA schools, since some of the road trips were murder, and a majority of such schools are capable of staffing and running a quality meet of 4 rooms. But I see a problem with Class A, where some small schools simply can't host a quality dual meet much less a Regional but will still put in to host one for budget reasons.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by CometCoach72 » Sun May 09, 2010 12:24 am

The only thing that I worry about at any regional, regardless of class, is moderator quality. I'd put in to host a regional only because I know that the moderators I put in key positions will keep the matches moving (as much as possible) and do a good job of administering the rules. We have played 8 IHSA regional matches in my 3 years as coach, and I think that only one of those matches had a moderator that did a halfway decent job. Given the events of this particular year, I would hope that others would sincerely want good matches.

I think that Coach Grant raises a valid concern; it would be nice to know that your Regional or Sectional host won't trip over themselves.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Dominator » Sun May 09, 2010 8:57 am

CometCoach72 wrote:The only thing that I worry about at any regional, regardless of class, is moderator quality. I'd put in to host a regional only because I know that the moderators I put in key positions will keep the matches moving (as much as possible) and do a good job of administering the rules.
I can see how this new rule will make some regionals a lot better and some a lot worse. On the one hand, I can volunteer to host a regional if I feel I can put together a good one. On the other hand, geography could force a regional host into the middle of a quizbowl desert. What's probably the best thing to do with the current rule is pound the pavement and encourage the four schools in each sectional most able to run a good regional volunteer early to do so.

Given this new method of regional host selection, is there any way regional hosts could find out that they are hosting before the sectional meeting? For example, if four schools volunteer when they submit their records, could it just be decided then that those four host? That would give schools more time to plan, which would definitely be beneficial.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Deviant Insider » Sun May 09, 2010 10:29 am

You are all raising valid concerns, regarding both not giving the subcategory and the selection of regional hosts. In both cases, it was a matter of balancing the pros and cons.

Keep in mind that with regional hosts, though the top four seeds are more likely to get good moderators than other schools, there is no guarantee that the top four seeds will get good moderators or that the unseeded teams will not get good moderators--I know this from personal experience.

Geography is a problem. It is common for the top seeds in a Sectional to be close together, since larger schools, better-funded schools, and schools in strong conferences tend to be near each other. Because of this, many unseeded teams were traveling an hour each way to get to their Regional. Some ADs were complaining--if you have three hosts in the Northwest corner of the Sectional and one in the middle, then the unseeded teams in the middle complain that they have to go to one of the Northwest schools so that the Southeast teams can go to the host in the middle. (They don't see it that way--they just see themselves going to a Regional that is far away.)

You will volunteer to host a Regional when you submit your record. The goal is to announce the hosts before the seeding meeting.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Boeing X-20, Please! » Sun May 09, 2010 9:39 pm

So this is a question mainly to the coaches I don't know on at least a semi-good basis (e.g. Mr. Prince, Mr. Grant, and Mr. Winter): Does the inclusion of what many would consider to be 'trash' (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Performers subcategory) in the fine arts distribution make you lose any respect for IHSA, and if so how would you quantify the respect lost?
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by CometCoach72 » Sun May 09, 2010 11:19 pm

Utahraptor wrote:So this is a question mainly to the coaches I don't know on at least a semi-good basis (e.g. Mr. Prince, Mr. Grant, and Mr. Winter): Does the inclusion of what many would consider to be 'trash' (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Performers subcategory) in the fine arts distribution make you lose any respect for IHSA, and if so how would you quantify the respect lost?
Secretary Winkler - I really don't think that my level of respect for the IHSA has changed. Most of the changes that the Advisory Committee made for 2010-2011 are appropriate responses to come clear shortcomings that happened in the 2010 tournament. Regarding your specific question about the distribution, I'm disappointed that the Advisory Committee chose to go in this direction. But, I guess if we want to play in Peoria next year, we'll have to brush up on our Jackson Browne, Leonard Cohen, and The Pretenders.

Please send Coach Riley my best wishes.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by mrgsmath » Mon May 10, 2010 1:26 pm

Secretary of Bobcats wrote:So this is a question mainly to the coaches I don't know on at least a semi-good basis (e.g. Mr. Prince, Mr. Grant, and Mr. Winter): Does the inclusion of what many would consider to be 'trash' (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Performers subcategory) in the fine arts distribution make you lose any respect for IHSA, and if so how would you quantify the respect lost?
I would not even consider the issue of "respect" to be relevant in this context. If your asking if I am disappointed, the answer is yes, and to a fairly high extent. I fail to see the justification for diluting a subject area that is poorly represented already, and to do so for no real reason, other than perhaps to include a few people who have a passion for Rock and Roll.

Loss of respect would imply that they have crossed some "moral" boundry that I would find unacceptable and in this regard they haven't. In fact one could make the arguement that this "trash" has a better chance of making someone money on a future game show than will Chopin and as such may serve a greater good if only forthat person.

In general, I am not a big fan of expanding Sub-categories for the purpose of inclusion of more participants, since such actions tend to make them lazy. "Since no one is answering the Bach questions, rather than have them study more let's ask them stuff they already know." In general this is a problem I have with people who demand a certain level of TU conversions. If the question is fair it shouldm't matter if no one gets it right, that result should direct you to areas of weakness and lead you to work harder.

In my opinion, expansion should be to broaden the areas of study when everyone is answering the questions in the present Sub-Categories. and all categories should be truly reflective of areas we consider culturally important to know.

The IHSA is a fine organization that has done a great deal for the schools that it serves, while I may differ with the decisions they make, more often than not, I respect the hardwork and dedication of the people involved. As a coach my job is to prepare my team for whatever competitions we enter be it IHSA, Masonic, or NAQT style play, and play under the conditions each has set in place. I do not force my players into any style of play and expose them to all that are available and trust them to make the choice to prepare for them, and I help them accordingly.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon May 10, 2010 2:23 pm

mrgsmath wrote:In general, I am not a big fan of expanding Sub-categories for the purpose of inclusion of more participants, since such actions tend to make them lazy. "Since no one is answering the Bach questions, rather than have them study more let's ask them stuff they already know." In general this is a problem I have with people who demand a certain level of TU conversions. If the question is fair it shouldm't matter if no one gets it right, that result should direct you to areas of weakness and lead you to work harder.
I pretty much agree with you on the italicized bit, but I'd like to point out a different reason to demand certain levels of question conversion (and it can be both TUs and bonuses) -- enjoyment. If I want to test knowledge of Anton Bruckner, I can't really expect many music non-experts to be able to convert ANSWER: Bruckner, but using Bruckner clues in a tossup on ANSWER: symphony, or making Bruckner a hard part of a bonus, gives the opportunity to show Bruckner knowledge without making the entire question a 0 point experience this time around for everyone else. His presence in the leadin, middle clues, or 3rd part of a bonus directs you to learn about him, as we want.

There's a larger issue here - whenever I've moderated for coaches who only play good quizbowl kicking and screaming, one of the first complaints I hear is "the questions are too long when all you have to do is wait until the end," followed immediately by a command to the team to consistently wait until the end of the tossup to answer, an instruction that always leads to a loss of focus and listening on the early clues. Such coaches actively prevent their teams from improving because they neutralize the primary medium for improvement. We're going to need a paradigm shift in coaching - away from binary lists and towards depth of study, sure, but most importantly towards treating each tossup as a learning experience rather than a mere race.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by CometCoach72 » Mon May 10, 2010 6:21 pm

I would like to echo the comments of Mr. Fischer. If the IHSA and the entire Illinois Scholastic Bowl community ever want to take a step towards better competition, then coaches are going to have to embrace the concept of good pyramidal questions and a match format that does not take forever to decide a champion (I am specifically referring to bonus questions and length of match). The IHSA would do well to consider mACF-style bonus questions and shorter matches.

One comment I would like to add to Mr. Fischer's point is that believe it or not, a pyramidal toss-up can be a great equalizer for a weaker team; if the stronger team buzzes in early and misses, then the weaker team has a better than break-even chance of picking up the 10 points and control of a bonus with a pyramidal question (especially if the giveaway clues are toward the end).
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by mrgsmath » Mon May 10, 2010 6:56 pm

My comment was not intended to suggest that Pyramidal questions are bad, I fully support the concept that depth of knowledge is critical to dedermining the better of two good teams, but my point is rather directed towards the very point that Jay makes. While there should be risk reward to buzzing in early with a wrong answer, the punishment of easy-pickings, that some tossups give on final clues, does not challenge the weaker team. I see no reason for the final clue to be ,"... name this author of Tom Sawyer." regardless of the difficulty of the clues that may preceed it, and I don't see the educational value, nor the enjoyment derived from its conversion.

The balance between challenging a "team" to cover a variety of subjects in depth, versus a question set in which teammates are racing to beat each other to the buzzer, is one worth striving to find. There are plenty of Mark Twain works that should be gotten by a "moderately" well-versed high school literature person, that the obvious ones can be reserved for Junior High matches.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by TheDoctor » Mon May 10, 2010 7:48 pm

mrgsmath wrote:I see no reason for the final clue to be ,"... name this author of Tom Sawyer."
While the giveaway of "Tom Sawyer" may not serve to educate many teams about the works of Mark Twain, it's worth noting that a good question writer strives to ensure that the vast majority of questions in a packet are "gettable." A question whose last clue is Innocents Abroad may educate a less experienced team on the "middling" works of Twain, but it fails to allow anyone to gain the experience of hearing a bonus and gaining even more knowledge from it. Furthermore, there is no reason that Innocents Abroad can not appear in a pyramidal question that ends with Tom Sawyer, allowing both education and bonus conversion to occur for the benefit of both teams. The point of a pyramidal question is not to educate every team all the way through. It is to reward deep knowledge; to educate players who seek deeper knowledge; to enforce knowledge gains by allowing players to associate gained knowledge with familiar knowledge that appears in later, easy clues; AND to allow, wherever possible, for a bonus to be read that will further educate teams.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon May 10, 2010 8:05 pm

Note that, in a properly constructed question that is played correctly by both teams, no team that is totally unstimulated by the "who wrote Tom Sawyer" clue will hear it--since they'll know earlier clues well enough already to have buzzed.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by mrgsmath » Mon May 10, 2010 10:03 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:Note that, in a properly constructed question that is played correctly by both teams, no team that is totally unstimulated by the "who wrote Tom Sawyer" clue will hear it--since they'll know earlier clues well enough already to have buzzed.
I agree, my point was that the Tom Sawyer clue was not only unnecessary, but unwarranted. To allow a weak team a "freebee" does not encourage them to get stronger but in fact may give them reason to become complacent.
TheDoctor wrote:
mrgsmath wrote:I see no reason for the final clue to be ,"... name this author of Tom Sawyer."
While the giveaway of "Tom Sawyer" may not serve to educate many teams about the works of Mark Twain, it's worth noting that a good question writer strives to ensure that the vast majority of questions in a packet are "gettable." A question whose last clue is Innocents Abroad may educate a less experienced team on the "middling" works of Twain, but it fails to allow anyone to gain the experience of hearing a bonus and gaining even more knowledge from it. Furthermore, there is no reason that Innocents Abroad can not appear in a pyramidal question that ends with Tom Sawyer, allowing both education and bonus conversion to occur for the benefit of both teams. The point of a pyramidal question is not to educate every team all the way through. It is to reward deep knowledge; to educate players who seek deeper knowledge; to enforce knowledge gains by allowing players to associate gained knowledge with familiar knowledge that appears in later, easy clues; AND to allow, wherever possible, for a bonus to be read that will further educate teams.
Justifying tossup clues that are so easy that anyone can get them, just so we can hear the bonuses seems to place the focus on the questions and not on the players. If this is our standard then why not adopt the format that requires that all bonuses be read on an alternating basis between teams without rebound. If you contend that this would remove the reward for getting the tossup, I would counter that the tossup lost its value when the writer made it so easy.

It is not my belief that tossups be made difficult for the sake of difficulty, but that the level of difficulty reflect the level of education. Having final clues that are answered by 80% of Jr. High students is not acceptable for a Varsity round, and if that is what is necessary for bonuses to be heard then we are in big trouble.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Cheynem » Mon May 10, 2010 10:09 pm

It shouldn't encourage teams to get complacent because unless you are playing a team who similarly has to wait until the end of a question (or if the other team negged), you simply won't answer those questions anyway. While I don't expect junior high school students to do as well on a varsity packet as high schoolers, there really is no reason why they should be unfamiliar with a lot of the answers at the end of tossups, in my opinion. Dead tossups are not fun or informative for anyone.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Charbroil » Mon May 10, 2010 10:34 pm

mrgsmath wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:Note that, in a properly constructed question that is played correctly by both teams, no team that is totally unstimulated by the "who wrote Tom Sawyer" clue will hear it--since they'll know earlier clues well enough already to have buzzed.
I agree, my point was that the Tom Sawyer clue was not only unnecessary, but unwarranted. To allow a weak team a "freebee" does not encourage them to get stronger but in fact may give them reason to become complacent.
I mean, aren't you somewhat missing the point of Quiz Bowl as a competitive activity which is meant to be fun? While I don't support diluting the academic nature of Quiz Bowl just to make it more "fun" (especially when it doesn't become more fun), I also don't think you want to make it so that weak teams can't score anything--just like you wouldn't want to change the rules for a sport so that only the top teams could ever score just because sports are supposed to test athletic ability and skill.

Also, even the easiest giveaways sometimes go unanswered--the Aegis Questions blog mentions how tossups on the American Revolution went dead and were complained about despite mentioning Yorktown, etc.; as a result, I don't see any problem with writing tossups and easy bonus parts that are answerable by 90% of teams in order to encourage them to enjoy the game.

Speaking of which, just to note, Coach Grant, technically your argument could be extended to raise the level of Quiz Bowl questions to any level--if high schoolers can't answer DI ICT level questions on important things, they should just get better and learn more. Obviously, I don't think anyone here believes that.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Dan-Don » Mon May 10, 2010 10:49 pm

Cheynem wrote:While I don't expect junior high school students to do as well on a varsity packet as high schoolers, there really is no reason why they should be unfamiliar with a lot of the answers at the end of tossups, in my opinion. Dead tossups are not fun or informative for anyone.
They are a necessary evil though. It's one thing to write the US Literature and Brit Lit for an entire tournament with like 85% conversion by using easy answer space with pyramidal tossups and easy/medium/hard bonuses. But I'll be the first to admit that when I first got into good quizbowl, I was the kid going, "J.M. Coetzee?!? That's so stupid and obscure. I read so much and I've never heard of him! Who the heck reads South African literature?" I just had to man up and learn things that came up in dead tossups. The canon isn't going to adjust itself for bad teams.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Cheynem » Mon May 10, 2010 11:01 pm

Well, let's not get into the "canon" (whatever that is) here. All I'm saying is that there is no point in making questions unnecessarily hard by not giving certain pieces of information.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Dan-Don » Mon May 10, 2010 11:14 pm

Well for the sake of preserving my tarnished reputation, let's agree that there is no exact percentage of tossups in a Varsity set that should be converted. It's certainly higher that what Coach Grant is advocating though.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by mrgsmath » Mon May 10, 2010 11:26 pm

All of this misses my original point. My contention was that having final clues that 80% of the "people in room" can answer, as opposed to 80% of the questions being answerable by prepared teams is diluting the quality of the question set. I hold to my Mark Twain example. Is it not reasonable to expect out of 10 prepared Varsity players, that one of them should get Mark Twain with a final clue of "The Celebrated Leaping Frog...." as opposed to "Tom Sawyer." And that the round where it goes dead is indicative of two teams that need to step up, rather than the questions step down. I am not advocating for hard questions that no one can answer, I am suggesting that questions reflect a quality of education we can reasonably expect from our players.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Dan-Don » Mon May 10, 2010 11:29 pm

mrgsmath wrote:I am suggesting that questions reflect a quality of education we can reasonably expect from our players.
And so this comes back to the great question of whether quizbowl is supposed to be a test of what we learn in school or our own intellectual curiosity.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by mrgsmath » Mon May 10, 2010 11:30 pm

Dan-Don wrote:Well for the sake of preserving my tarnished reputation, let's agree that there is no exact percentage of tossups in a Varsity set that should be converted. It's certainly higher that what Coach Grant is advocating though.
For the record, I never gave a percentage, I am happy with 70-80% conversion, I just think we underestimate the difficulty level at which that can be attained.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Cheynem » Mon May 10, 2010 11:32 pm

Let's look at three teams:

Team A is a really good team. When playing Team B or Team C, they will buzz in on the lead-in descriptions of Celebrated Jumping Frog.
Team B is a medium team. When playing Team C, they will buzz in on the title of "Celebrated Jumping Frog."
Team C is a bad team. The only way they will hear the end of the tossup (hearing Tom Sawyer) is if Team A or B negged or if they are playing another bad Team C. Either way, knowing that Mark Twain wrote Tom Sawyer is a perfectly fine academic fact. It is, I would say, probably better than a number of quizbowl teams could. This isn't like saying "Name this guy whose name sounds like a locomotive," it's asking for knowledge of a real fact, albeit it rewarding deeper knowledge first. There is nothing wrong with a packet in which Team C will rarely answer questions unless being thrust into playing a lot of other Team C's, but can still answer some questions. Team C will definitely know they need to get better, though.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by mrgsmath » Mon May 10, 2010 11:35 pm

Dan-Don wrote:
mrgsmath wrote:I am suggesting that questions reflect a quality of education we can reasonably expect from our players.
And so this comes back to the great question of whether quizbowl is supposed to be a test of what we learn in school or our own intellectual curiosity.
Since all this began with the discussion on IHSA's distribution and inclusion of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I suggest it never left.
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Re: IHSA Advisory Committee

Post by Dan-Don » Mon May 10, 2010 11:38 pm

mrgsmath wrote:
Dan-Don wrote:
mrgsmath wrote:I am suggesting that questions reflect a quality of education we can reasonably expect from our players.
And so this comes back to the great question of whether quizbowl is supposed to be a test of what we learn in school or our own intellectual curiosity.
Since all this began with the discussion on IHSA's distribution and inclusion of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I suggest it never left.
What? No I think we all agree that a Rock n Roll fine arts subdistro is definitely not an answer to that question.

Also
mrgsmath wrote: "The Celebrated Leaping Frog...."
this doesn't exist
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