Qualitative Assessment Project Update

After a successful pilot project in the spring of 2012, the CDL this season launched the first qualitative assessment of urban debaters’ learning, connecting urban debate more closely to academic learning objectives. The Qualitative Assessment Project (QAP) assesses students’ performance against the Debater Development Benchmarks. These benchmarks identify specific skills and knowledge debaters should acquire in each year and at each level of debate.

The CDC has been using the Debater Development Benchmarks to design its professional development for coaches and its student trainings. Coaches have been and continue to be encouraged to use the Debater Development Benchmarks to guide their teaching and coaching.

Four Varsity debaters from each CDL school were assessed in the early season (T1 or T2), based on either the Year Two QAP Rubric or the Year Three/Four QAP Rubric. Those same Varsity debaters will be assessed in the late season (T5 or T6 — most will be assessed at T6), and their growth and learning as debaters over the course of the season will be documented.

Additionally, four first-year debaters from each school will be assessed in the late season (T5 or T6 — again, most will be assessed at T6), based on the Year One QAP Rubric.

The CDC will ask each school to identify which four first-year debaters it wants us to assess. It might be the case that some first-year debaters have had more instruction and coaching than others, who perhaps joined the CDL later or who haven’t been as dedicated as others. Relatedly, we have almost two months until T6 — a great opportunity to work with your students on the benchmarks, to build up their debate education in this stretch-run of the season.

Here are the average assessment ratings for Varsity debaters by school from the early-season assessments.

SY2013 Qualitative Assessment Project Early-Season Rating Averages (by School) of Varsity Debaters

This week the CDC will be sending each school’s coaches the specific early-season assessments of their Varsity debaters, along with average performance ratings on each relevant benchmark.

The “average student attainment percentage” is percentage of “6 or higher” ratings the students from that school received on their assessments. The threshold for “attainment” of a debater development benchmark is 6.

Assessments are being done by trained cohorts of QAP Evaluators. One cohort is made up of highly experienced CDL coaches, and one cohort (to be highly active at T5 and T6) a cohort of former National Circuit debaters, now in graduate or undergraduate school at Northwestern University, and undertaking rigorous QAP training.

QAP assessment is, as you know, entirely separate from and unconnected to the competitive outcome of a debate round. Judges are really asking only one question as they respond to a debate round — who is winning (and why?)? Qualitative assessment is much more akin to educational evaluation of performed learning on the full range of essential components that make up competitive academic debate.

Let us know if you have any questions at any time on this important and innovative project.

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