9th Graders in Division B

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Re: 9th Graders in Division B

Post by kate! »

(Omitting everything else for brevity)
drcubbin wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 10:36 am Silver, I am not seeking anyone to "suffer", since in suburban/rural areas it is much easier for a 9th grader to travel to their upcoming high school than to come back to your middle school in a city environment. And remember, I am just talking... suggesting.
And I am a little skeptical that 9th graders would return and not provide any advantage. It's just a discussion folks.
Just a quick question, why are we so focused on the fact that 9th graders have an advantage over 6th graders and not on the fact that 12th graders have an advantage over 9th graders? No matter what grade students are in, older kids will always have an advantage due to the courses they're taking and other factors. That's why A) there's already a system in place that solves this problem by letting students choose what's convenient for them (if they even have a choice--as someone who went to a 7-9 middle school, 9th graders were not allowed to go to the high school and compete on their team) or what's usually their only option. And B) that's why coaches or captains choose the students that are best suited for certain events... why would someone put a 7th grader who hasn't taken biology on Disease Detectives over a 9th grader that has? We also can't make blanket statements. Every team is different and every school is different, and the whole point of 9th graders being allowed to be in either division is to make things easier for everyone. My point is, there's always some team or some group of students that have an advantage over others. That's why coaches and captains and the people in charge of everything make it easier for teams to personalize their experience and make themselves the best team possible. Taking away the option for 9th graders to compete in div B is pointless. There's a reason the rule is already in place.
Last edited by kate! on April 23rd, 2021, 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 9th Graders in Division B

Post by knightmoves »

I think the discussion is centered on High School students who return to compete for their Middle School's SO team, rather than 9th grade students of a 7-9 school. Having ex-students compete for your team doesn't look quite the same as having current students compete.

And yes, of course 9th graders have an advantage, other things being equal: they've had an extra year of study, know more math, and so on, than they did when they were in 8th grade. I don't think anyone is claiming otherwise. But I also know 5th graders who've competed on B teams, because they're at a 5-8 school. They obviously start at a disadvantage, but having extra years in school isn't equally useful for all events. Some of the ID events, for example, or the build events, don't overlap much with school courses, whereas a Density Lab or a Chem Lab kid doesn't need to study beyond their normal school curriculum, if they're an older kid at their school.
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Re: 9th Graders in Division B

Post by aakoala »

knightmoves wrote: April 23rd, 2021, 2:17 pm I think the discussion is centered on High School students who return to compete for their Middle School's SO team, rather than 9th grade students of a 7-9 school. Having ex-students compete for your team doesn't look quite the same as having current students compete.
Yes! This is what I was concerned about. Having students actually RETURN to the school to compete for Division B seems a bit controversial or unfair, but I totally agree with having 9th graders in 7-9 schools compete for Division B. (I must admit, I was not aware that 7-9 schools were a thing, but I profusely apologize if I offended anyone)
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Re: 9th Graders in Division B

Post by EastStroudsburg13 »

aakoala wrote: April 22nd, 2021, 6:54 amHowever, I believe that 9th graders that attend their highschool with 10th, 11th, and 12th graders should compete with their school (Division C). It just doesn't feel ethical.
That's a fair opinion to have. Unfortunately, it isn't really feasible for NSO to legislate it out officially, because then you have to go forth and verify what grades each school serves. And that also doesn't consider students whose high school doesn't have a middle school team, but whose middle school does. There's a lot of possible edge cases to consider, and it's impossible to address all of them. Ultimately, NSO is erring on the side of simplicity and accessibility, while also providing some limitations, and it's probably the closest compromise we're going to get (beyond quibbling over what exact number the threshold should be).
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Re: 9th Graders in Division B

Post by SOcoachB »

As the person who started this thread, I want to thank everyone for the good points being made from different perspectives. It's clearly not an easy issue to resolve.

I think it's clear that, on average, having 9th graders is an advantage for the team. Of course, not every 9th grader is stronger than every younger student. No one is saying that.

I'm just looking at a situation in which one of the traditionally strongest programs in our state pulls 9th graders down from the high school while most others don't. Meanwhile, my best 8th graders have gone off to high school to compete in Division C as 9th graders and often win medals at our state tournament in that division. Others may not be able to make the top squad in the high school, but they clearly would still be strong Division B competitors. Yes, the rules give us the option to pull any of those kids back to our middle school team, but it just doesn't feel right and I don't think any of the kids in our middle or high school programs would like it.

And it seems that a significant portion of the top teams at Nationals have 9th graders on them. It's hard to know how many, and maybe that's part of the issue.

Here's a thought: what if there just were more transparency? Teams that compete at state and national tournaments already have to submit rosters to verify that they comply with rules. Perhaps state and national organizations could simply publish which Division B teams are using 9th graders and which ones aren't? At least that would help provide more context for interpreting results. Schools may hesitate to pull 9th graders down from high school if everyone else becomes aware that this is what they are doing while other schools are not.
Last edited by SOcoachB on May 10th, 2021, 8:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 9th Graders in Division B

Post by BennyTheJett »

SOcoachB wrote: May 10th, 2021, 8:14 am As the person who started this thread, I want to thank everyone for the good points being made from different perspectives. It's clearly not an easy issue to resolve.

I think it's clear that, on average, having 9th graders is an advantage for the team. Of course, not every 9th grader is stronger than every younger student. No one is saying that.

I'm just looking at a situation in which one of the traditionally strongest programs in our state pulls 9th graders down from the high school while most others don't. Meanwhile, my best 8th graders go off to high school to compete in Division C as 9th graders and often win medals at our state tournament in that division. Others may not be able to make the top squad in the high school, but they clearly would still be strong Division B competitors. Yes, the rules give us the option to pull any of those kids back to our middle school team, but it just doesn't feel right and I don't think any of the kids in our middle or high school programs would like it.

And it seems that a significant portion of the top teams at Nationals have 9th graders on them. It's hard to know how many, and maybe that's part of the issue.

Here's a thought: what if there just were more transparency? Teams that compete at state and national tournaments already have to submit rosters to verify that they comply with rules. Perhaps state and national organizations could simply publish which Division B teams are using 9th graders and which ones aren't? At least that would help provide more context for interpreting results. Schools may hesitate to pull 9th graders down from high school if everyone else becomes aware that this is what they are doing while other schools are not.
While I acknowledge that not every school lets 9th graders compete for their middle school and see the points of it being a competitive advantage, I think this should be up to the schools to decide. I also think that you shouldn't try to "expose" teams that utilize 9th graders, because they haven't done any wrong. It's not right to try to discourage something that's allowed, even if it gives the other schools a competitive advantage. As for transparency sake, state and national SO know which teams run 9th graders and they know how many are on each team. I think that the system now is far from perfect, but I also think that it would be hard to change. The idea is to make scioly more accessible, and this rule can help that.
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Re: 9th Graders in Division B

Post by knightmoves »

BennyTheJett wrote: May 10th, 2021, 8:25 am The idea is to make scioly more accessible, and this rule can help that.
Let me give a shout out here to Illinois's state policy, which is that if your team invites 9th graders back to compete for your division B team, you may not register a JV team. In other words, if you're a small program, and fielding 9th graders lets you compete, you can do that. If you've got enough people for multiple teams, you don't need to invite ex-students back. I think this rule makes sense in Illinois's context (where I don't think there are any middle schools that include 9th grade).

But any rule that helps widen participation is a good one. Let's not forget that most of science olympiad isn't Nationals, and it isn't the sort of teams that go to Nationals. It's schools with small budgets getting kids enthusiastic about science, for whom taking home a couple of medals from a regional tournament is a good result.
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Re: 9th Graders in Division B

Post by SOcoachB »

BennyTheJett wrote: May 10th, 2021, 8:25 am While I acknowledge that not every school lets 9th graders compete for their middle school and see the points of it being a competitive advantage, I think this should be up to the schools to decide. I also think that you shouldn't try to "expose" teams that utilize 9th graders, because they haven't done any wrong. It's not right to try to discourage something that's allowed, even if it gives the other schools a competitive advantage. As for transparency sake, state and national SO know which teams run 9th graders and they know how many are on each team. I think that the system now is far from perfect, but I also think that it would be hard to change. The idea is to make scioly more accessible, and this rule can help that.
Greater transparency does not take away the ability for schools to decide. And, if schools are not doing anything wrong, then there should be no objection to clarity about it. Shouldn't other schools in the same region/state know when competing schools are pulling 9th-graders down from their high school? I don't disagree that it should be up to schools to decide, but I also think they should have full information when making that decision.

I agree that changing the rules about 9th graders would be very hard. Given what people have said in this discussion, I don't think they can change. That's exactly why I suggest transparency; it can be done easily. It should be clear when schools are not following the same norms as other schools in their region/state.
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Re: 9th Graders in Division B

Post by BennyTheJett »

SOcoachB wrote: May 10th, 2021, 10:40 am
BennyTheJett wrote: May 10th, 2021, 8:25 am While I acknowledge that not every school lets 9th graders compete for their middle school and see the points of it being a competitive advantage, I think this should be up to the schools to decide. I also think that you shouldn't try to "expose" teams that utilize 9th graders, because they haven't done any wrong. It's not right to try to discourage something that's allowed, even if it gives the other schools a competitive advantage. As for transparency sake, state and national SO know which teams run 9th graders and they know how many are on each team. I think that the system now is far from perfect, but I also think that it would be hard to change. The idea is to make scioly more accessible, and this rule can help that.
Greater transparency does not take away the ability for schools to decide. And, if schools are not doing anything wrong, then there should be no objection to clarity about it. Shouldn't other schools in the same region/state know when competing schools are pulling 9th-graders down from their high school? I don't disagree that it should be up to schools to decide, but I also think they should have full information when making that decision.

I agree that changing the rules about 9th graders would be very hard. Given what people have said in this discussion, I don't think they can change. That's exactly why I suggest transparency; it can be done easily. It should be clear when schools are not following the same norms as other schools in their region/state.
I think that using transparency as a weapon to discourage teams from having 9th graders is wrong. I cannot put this any more bluntly. I don't think there would be any objection to being clear about which schools are having 9th graders, I rather ask why SHOULD the other schools in the region and state have to know. How schools run their teams should not matter one bit to the other schools for any reason. I don't think it's wise to look at "oh there's 9th graders here no wonder we lost to them", as at the end of the day high school is right around the corner, which I think most students would say is much more important and rewarding than middle school SO anyway (just due to the higher level of competition, more schools, more passionate people). What I'm saying is this: Why must it need to be clear when schools are not following the same norms as other schools when they've done nothing wrong, and are just trying to have a more competitive team? There's a bigger picture that's being missed here, and it's that knowing which events and which teams had 9th graders would only alienate people to those schools and those students, which is exactly what we cannot have. It'd also likely cause students to work less hard in their events than normal because "oh there's a 9th grader in this event, I'm gonna lose anyway". You have to consider more than just "we're losing because of 9th graders" even though that could be the case.
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Re: 9th Graders in Division B

Post by SOcoachB »

BennyTheJett wrote: May 10th, 2021, 10:57 am I think that using transparency as a weapon to discourage teams from having 9th graders is wrong. I cannot put this any more bluntly. I don't think there would be any objection to being clear about which schools are having 9th graders, I rather ask why SHOULD the other schools in the region and state have to know. How schools run their teams should not matter one bit to the other schools for any reason.
That last sentence is hyperbolic. We are part of an organization that runs competitions, and there are rules about team organization. One of those rules is a limit of five 9th-graders, presumably to create a more level playing field across schools that have different grade levels. Would you advocate that rule just go away, allowing a school to have any number of 9th-graders, because "how schools run their teams should not matter one bit"?

If the five 9th-grader limit is set in the interest of fair competition, then it is well within the bounds to discuss other possible ways to address fairness.

The discussion above has convinced me that there is not a fully fair way to deal with the fact that some middle schools have 9th graders and others do not. It is neither reasonable to expect that 9th-graders in a middle school will be able to compete on a nearby high school team, nor it is reasonable to expect that middle schools with no 9th-graders pull high school students back down to their team.

I don't know how to solve the problem, but I do not think it's right for schools with no 9th-graders to get a competitive advantage against other middle schools in the same situation by pulling 9th-graders down from high school. Additionally, I think that schools that do well at states/nationals without any 9th-graders deserve some sort of recognition for that.
BennyTheJett wrote: May 10th, 2021, 10:57 am at the end of the day high school is right around the corner, which I think most students would say is much more important and rewarding than middle school SO anyway (just due to the higher level of competition, more schools, more passionate people).
That's rather dismissive of Division B kids and how hard they work. When they go to state competition, the stakes are just as high. They feel the same elation and disappointment that Division C students do. But it's just natural when kids get older that they think the younger kids are less important.
BennyTheJett wrote: May 10th, 2021, 10:57 am What I'm saying is this: Why must it need to be clear when schools are not following the same norms as other schools when they've done nothing wrong, and are just trying to have a more competitive team?
If they are not following the norms followed by other schools because they "just trying to have a more competitive team" (translation: give themselves a competitive advantage), they can do it. It's not against the rules. But why do you think that no other member schools in the same organization have a right to know that this is happening?
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