For Coaches and Teachers, For Hosts and Facilitators

How Does USAT Ordinalized Scoring Work?

During a Meet, teams compete in three different events, but some of these events have multiple parts and different scoring methods. Mind Sprint challenges, for instance, each have their own way of keeping score, but are counted as a single event. P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box uses the same basic rubric for each Meet. Oral Face-Off! always contains the same number of questions and they are each worth one point. However, written Face-Off! can vary from Meet to Meet. This all could become very complicated to score!

Face-Off!, Mind Sprints, and P.A.R.T.Y. in Box are each worth 100 points of the total 300 points  each team could receive each Meet. In order to give each of the three events the same weight, we use a method called ordinalized scoring. The good news is that when you use the scoring spreadsheet we provide, all the math is done for you to eliminate the guesswork. But as the new season begins, we thought it would be a good idea to explain how it works.

Calculating Raw Scores

The raw score is fairly straightforward. This is the total number of points teams earn in each event according to its rubric. In oral Face-Off!, this is the number of times a team answered correctly, then multiplied by 5 automatically the scoring spreadsheet. This makes the highest possible raw score 200 points, but this would mean one team buzzed in and got every single question right. This is highly unlikely, but technically possible. Only the oral Face-Off! score is multiplied by 5.

In written Face-Off!, there are 15 questions and the point value for each question is listed at the beginning of the question itself. Usually, they are worth a range of 1-6 points, depending on the complexity of the question. We do our best to make sure the expectations for how to score a question are clear in the questions itself. If a question asks the teams to list three rhyming words, for instance, the score will be out of 3 points (3 pts.). Correct spelling is always required in order to earn full points for an answer. There is no way to award a partial point, only whole numbers. There is no way to award “extra credit,” though any answers that strike a facilitator as particularly creative are eligible for a Mary Ann Berdan award. Written Face-Off! scores are not multiplied by 5, but are then added to the oral round raw score to get the total Face-Off! raw score.

If you are a facilitator for either oral or written Face-Off!, make sure to look over the questions before the round begins so you can consult with the Host/Facilitator if you have questions. It is possible for multiple teams to earn the full points on oral Face-Off! if they are in different Tris, and any team can earn the full points available on the written round.

In P.A.R.T.Y. in a Box, we use the same base scoring rubric for each Meet. The minimum number of points awarded in each area is either 2 or 5, depending on the rubric. (For more information on why we don’t give zeroes, see this post [add link].) The highest total score possible in this event is 117 points. It is possible for more than one team to earn all of the points.

In the instruction sheet of each Mind Sprint challenge, there is a designated Scoring section. It is usually the last section, but in some cases the information would need to be concealed from students and it could appear earlier in the instructions. Mind Sprint Score Sheets are designed in a way to make it easy for you to score each challenge, but because the scoring will be different for each one, the rubrics will not always be laid out the same way. Usually, we provide a space for you to make hash marks as the challenge is occurring so you can count up the total points either after each team or at the end of the Meet.

Some teams may have much higher scores than others, especially in brainstorming and quick-answer challenges. Other times, you may see a challenge such as a graphing worksheet where the majority of teams earn all of the available points. Mind Sprint challenges vary the most from Meet to Meet, and even within a Meet. However, we do try to balance the types of challenges across the season to offer variety and fun for the teams. If you are facilitating a Mind Sprint challenge, be sure to look over both the instructions and the scoring rubric before the teams arrive so you can ask the Host/Facilitator any questions before the Meet begins.

In all cases, if penalties need to be assessed, the penalty comes off the raw score. In a future post, we’ll discuss penalties in greater depth, but this one simple rule is important to stress. A 5-point penalty can have a much greater impact on an ordinalized score than on a raw score.

Ordinalizing Scores

Ordinalizing scores allows us to give teams a ranking according to their scores. From here on out, only their rank relative to other teams is what matters.

Once the raw scores are tallied, they go into the scoring spreadsheet (ATSCORE97). Each raw score is converted to a new number starting with 100 for the top score and decreasing by 10 points for each subsequent score down to 20 points for the lowest raw score. Meets with fewer than nine teams will not use all of the numbers between 100 and 20.

All teams with the same highest raw score get an ordinalized score of 100, there is no tie-breaker at this stage. For example, if three teams all get the same high score, they each receive 100 as their ordinalized score. In this case, the team(s) with the second-highest raw score get an ordinalized score of 70.

Sometimes, we receive comments that this practice is not fair, and the second-highest scoring team(s) should always receive an ordinalized score of 90 no matter how many teams tie for the highest raw score. However, skipping over the ordinalized scores in between 100 and the appropriate lower tier is more representative of what actually occurred. If three teams tied for first place, there are three teams occupying the first, second, and third place tiers already. But none of them are being penalized for getting the same score as two other teams. To award the team(s) with the second-highest score (which can also be viewed as the fourth-highest scoring team) an ordinalized score of 90 would not reflect the number of teams who outscored them in that event. The team(s) with the second-highest score is still outranked by three other teams, and a score of 70 reflects that accurately.

Calculating Final Scores

Once each event’s ordinalized score is established, the final score for the whole Meet is calculated. To do this, the three ordinalized scores are added together. For example, a team could receive 60 for Face-Off!, 70 for P.A.R.T.Y. and 90 for Mind Sprints, and their total final score would be 220. The highest possible ordinalized score any team could receive is 300, meaning that they had the highest rank in each of the individual events. Because it is possible for teams to share the top 100 ordinal rank, it is also technically possible there could be a tie for first place.

At this point, teams are given their final rank for ease and understanding. First place (based on their total ordinalized scores) receives the rank of 100, second place 90, and so on.

Next time, we’ll discuss what to do in the case of a tie. But for now, we hope this post has helped to clarify how our ordinal scoring system works.

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