I remember the frustration of easy, obscure, or “illegal” tests from when I was a competitor.When I read your ES guidelines I was really impressed and expected tests to be really well written. My only conclusion could be that many ES's did not read the guidelines or did not care. Frankly, I do not know how that could be improved. Perhaps you could request tests from your ES's several more weeks in advance and review them (or have Solon students take them) privately and provide feedback before the competition? As it says in the national ES manual, students will know the rules better than most ES's. Since your students don't compete officially, I personally would welcome them helping create a better experience as long as you could trust them not to talk to their friends on other teams.I appreciate the feedback. I assure you this information was communicated with our supervisors. Additionally, the rules are clear that invitationals should follow the regional level rules.For future reference, you gotta do a better job making sure ESes know that regional rules are being used. Three of my five events had questions/used rules for states/nationals (including the event that lead me to ask about it in the first place).
To give you an idea of how seriously I take event quality at our tournament, consider this set of customized Event Supervisor Guidelines that we issued to all of our supervisors and that has been posted on our tournament website since December.
At the end of the day, the nature of invitationals is that tests will only be as good as the participating teams are able/willing to provide. Different teams bring different levels of experience at running events. Our hope is always that each puts forward the highest quality event possible.
I don't mean to start a test rating discussion, but the Chem lab test was a good example. While it was clear and well written, needed constants were not always provided (Hfusion h20); the first question was neither similar to one in an introductory high school course nor on physical properties or thermodynamics (On an industrial process for producing H2SO4); there was a large section strictly on balancing (which could probably be argued to be included under section c, but is certainly not a large focus that it was on the test); and there were several questions on spontaneity and gibbs free energy, a state only topic. It was a very interesting test: it was clear that the author knew a lot about chemistry, just not the rules.
I’m sure some supervisors reviewed the guidelines more closely than others. I know that many supervisors made an effort to follow them as we received volunteer or material requests directly in response to the guidelines. I’d also reiterate that some schools have experienced coaches and a large alumni base who are more able to provide really great tests.
With respect to reviewing all of the tests (either by students or alumni), I have definitely considered it. It’s not standard practice for most invitationals (except MIT) because of the significant effort it requires. This is my first year officially serving as a coach and I frankly didn’t have the bandwidth to add that this year. However, it is something I would like to do in future years.