Small School NCT discussion

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Small School NCT discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

Here's a thread to discuss the SSNCT concept.

(For reference, last spring's thread.)
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

naqt.com wrote:Small schools remain eligible and welcome to attend the 2014 HSNCT, which is NAQT's overall championship for high schools (but the HSNCT will no longer name a Top Small School as it did prior to 2014). The SSNCT and HSNCT will use different question sets, and a school that attends both will receive a $100 discount on its HSNCT registration fee.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

So what questions will this event use? Is NAQT committing itself to writing 21 or so new packets each year for this event, or will they draw from other sets that small school teams would have to avoid hearing elsewhere throughout the year, such as DII questions? Frankly, to me this event seems like it might be more trouble than it's worth, and many small schools with low budgets would have to choose to attend either HSNCT or this, to the detriment of both.

What was the motive for introducing this tournament? Was it just this relatively inconclusive thread from a few months ago, or was there more to the decision?
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

We will be writing a new set, of approximately regular IS difficulty.

Our motives for creating a new tournament are twofold:

1) Maintain HSNCT at its existing size (256 teams) without excluding teams from national championship contention.

2) Increase participation among small schools. (About one quarter of qualified small schools attend HSNCT; one-third of large schools attend HSNCT.)
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by quizbowllee »

I will attempt to be as positive as possible about this. I have been against this since R. solicited my opinion a couple of years ago (much to his surprise). However, I gathered from the conversations I had with him at that time that this was an eventual inevitability. Therefore, my biggest complaint now is simply that we didn't have at least a one-year notice. We have been planning and budgeting for a trip to Chicago for HSNCT this year. If we had been aware of this SSNCT event, we would have spent more time over the summer raising funds and discussing how to get there. We planned to drive to Chicago (about 10 hours), which is a very inexpensive way to get 10 kids to a tournament. However, driving to Minneapolis is probably not feasible.

Also, I feel obligated to attend the SSNCT because it's the tournament in which we will be most competitive with the rest of the field. But, I also feel like I'll be selling my team short by not letting them play against the "big dogs." This is causing a budgetary/scheduling nightmare for us.

On the upside, I am glad to see the Small Schools get more attention overall. However, I still wish this could've been accomplished under the auspices of the current HSNCT. But, I also understand why this was difficult to achieve.

I do, though, wish that the questions at SSNCT would be on the same level as HSNCT. I may be in the minority among Small School Coaches, but it seems a little condescending to lower the difficulty.

OK. OK. I said I would be positive. So... yeah. This IS exciting and I do look forward to it. Minneapolis is FAR away from Alabama, but it will be fun to go somewhere new for a change.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Cheynem »

I think this is a poor idea. I was on the team that won the initial Small School title; it's an accomplishment I'm proud about. But at the time, as you may imagine, the primary goal was to do well against the best teams in the country. I think it was a good thing that 1. We were rewarded for being the best small school in the country that year and 2. We still got a chance to try to make the HSNCT playoffs, instead of choosing to presumably do better at a smaller event on easier questions. I realize that my team may not have had the same idea as other small schools and that there is nothing preventing small schools from simply playing the "regular" HSNCT, but it seems unfair to set this up as an either/or dilemma. I am not sure why small schools do not attend HSNCT--the competition idea seems odd to me, HSNCT regularly has teams from all sorts of skill levels and at some point in the day, you will play teams close to your skill level. The best small schools in the country are also certainly competitive with the majority of other HS teams. Perhaps NAQT has data that suggests that more small schools will attend a "small school" only event, but I guess I'm skeptical and disappointed.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit »

Does this mean that the other title supposed to be (though never actually) awarded at HSNCT will also be split off into its own tournament?
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Scottietodd »

Cheynem wrote:I think this is a poor idea. I was on the team that won the initial Small School title; it's an accomplishment I'm proud about. But at the time, as you may imagine, the primary goal was to do well against the best teams in the country. I think it was a good thing that 1. We were rewarded for being the best small school in the country that year and 2. We still got a chance to try to make the HSNCT playoffs, instead of choosing to presumably do better at a smaller event on easier questions. I realize that my team may not have had the same idea as other small schools and that there is nothing preventing small schools from simply playing the "regular" HSNCT, but it seems unfair to set this up as an either/or dilemma. I am not sure why small schools do not attend HSNCT--the competition idea seems odd to me, HSNCT regularly has teams from all sorts of skill levels and at some point in the day, you will play teams close to your skill level. The best small schools in the country are also certainly competitive with the majority of other HS teams. Perhaps NAQT has data that suggests that more small schools will attend a "small school" only event, but I guess I'm skeptical and disappointed.
Mike,

This sums up my feelings entirely. We have placed 4th and 7th respectively for the past two years in the small school playoffs at HSNCT while finishing 130th and 103rd respectively overall. It certainly feels like an accomplishment to have 1) qualified for the small school playoffs using the same questions as the large field and 2) doing well head to head against other small schools using the same sets. We certainly will not be able to compete in both events. We must now choose between a small school event that is too far to drive on the weekend before AP exams or the main event with little or no chance of recognition.

NAQT deserves much praise for even considering small school recognition. I don't want to disrespect that. In fairness, it should also be pointed out that schools from the West Coast and elsewhere do not even have the option of driving each year. I get that. But I liked the way it was set up before. If occasionally the tournament needed to be held in Denver to be fair for travel, I could deal with that IF it was just the one event each year.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by tiwonge »

I wonder if the discrepancy in attendance between small schools and larger schools isn't because the small schools don't want to compete against the larger schools, but rather, that smaller schools are more rural and have a smaller base to fundraise from, making it harder to attend a national tournament.

I'd be curious to see if this increases the participation among small schools. (And if it doesn't, is there any reason left to do this?)
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Auroni »

I'm not very fond of this idea to begin with, but writing a lower difficulty set for this tournament strikes me as unnecessary and insulting.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by AKKOLADE »

While I can see a justification for not having it at the difficulty of HSNCT, making it equivalent in difficulty to a normal IS set seems to be too much.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:I'm not very fond of this idea to begin with, but writing a lower difficulty set for this tournament strikes me as unnecessary and insulting.
The following small schools played the 2013 HSNCT. The first number is the team's bonus conversion on a regular IS set, the second is the team's bonus conversion at HSNCT.

Macomb (23.17, 18.14)
Beachwood (20.83, 16.91)
South Range (15.25, 14.38)
Hallsville B (18.74 ,15.15)
Harmony Science North Austin (19.44, 14.91)
Southern Fulton (14.02, 10.49)
Camp Hill (18.61, 13.27)
Hallsville A (17.89, 11.84)
Stillman Valley (12.03, 12.00)
Cumberland (15.54, 10.68)
Pilot Grove (13.03, 8.81)
West Point A (9.89, 7.88)
Ottawa Hills (11.51, 9.41)
Montpelier (8.44, 5.28)
West Point B (7.50, 5.62)


(Omitted for lack of data: Glasgow, Russell, Rockport, Muldrow, Kent City, Urbana, North Miami, Wellsboro, Stigler, Chester. These schools qualified from tournaments that used introductory-level questions and/or tournaments that did not report bonus conversion stats.)
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

tiwonge wrote:I wonder if the discrepancy in attendance between small schools and larger schools isn't because the small schools don't want to compete against the larger schools, but rather, that smaller schools are more rural and have a smaller base to fundraise from, making it harder to attend a national tournament.
It is likely that both of these effects contribute to the observed results.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Auroni »

Is there anything that makes small schools inherently less competitive than their larger counterparts? If the answer is "no," then I think using an easier set sends the wrong message, regardless of how well or poorly these schools have performed in the past.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by KnicksRule »

Is there a page where the list of all the schools that have qualified for the SSNCT or HSNCT is posted?
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Kevin »

Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:Is there anything that makes small schools inherently less competitive than their larger counterparts? If the answer is "no," then I think using an easier set sends the wrong message, regardless of how well or poorly these schools have performed in the past.
Perhaps this is too obvious, but a school with 500 students, ceteris paribus, should have half as many naturally good--in the sense of innate talent--quiz bowl players as a school with 1000. (I say "naturally good" since a well-trained team from a small school could obviously be superior to a team from a larger school.) Most states split athletic competitions into different divisions for this reason.

Judging by the bonus conversion stats, I don't take issue with NAQT's interest in using sub-HSNCT difficulty questions if that's the quality of field they expect to attract.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Cheynem »

I guess the key is less of a talent pool, yeah, or perhaps less access to things like AP classes, although if you have a talented and motivated team/coach/player, those things can be overcome. My school was fairly small and only had three AP classes (none of which really helped for quizbowl), but it was reasonably competitive at HSNCT. So was Jarret Greene's South Range school and presumably many others (Jason Loy's Cutter Morning Star team, etc.).
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Corry »

Kevin wrote:
Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:Is there anything that makes small schools inherently less competitive than their larger counterparts? If the answer is "no," then I think using an easier set sends the wrong message, regardless of how well or poorly these schools have performed in the past.
Perhaps this is too obvious, but a school with 500 students, ceteris paribus, should have half as many naturally good--in the sense of innate talent--quiz bowl players as a school with 1000. (I say "naturally good" since a well-trained team from a small school could obviously be superior to a team from a larger school.) Most states split athletic competitions into different divisions for this reason.

Judging by the bonus conversion stats, I don't take issue with NAQT's interest in using sub-HSNCT difficulty questions if that's the quality of field they expect to attract.
This makes sense to me. My high school was huge-- over 3600 students. As a result, each year we would have more than 80 people try out for our quiz bowl team (and I know that tryouts are not something that most quiz bowl teams can afford to have). I will readily admit that this helped our performance in tournaments immensely.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! »

Cheynem wrote:I guess the key is less of a talent pool, yeah, or perhaps less access to things like AP classes, although if you have a talented and motivated team/coach/player, those things can be overcome. My school was fairly small and only had three AP classes (none of which really helped for quizbowl), but it was reasonably competitive at HSNCT. So was Jarret Greene's South Range school and presumably many others (Jason Loy's Cutter Morning Star team, etc.).
Such is the case of similarly sized schools that have "Bishop", "Father", "Saint", and "Catholic" attached to their names (like my school: 203 students 9-12 three AP courses that only upperclassmen are allowed to take). I'm by no means advocating we should be considered small schools by NAQT's definition, but it's something to consider when things like that are said. Also, us Catholic schools do not receive the fiscal support of the taxpayers that public schools do. Many NAQT small schools that have done well also are in areas that are considerably wealthy (George Mason HS in VA, Beachwood HS in OH, and Bexley HS in OH) and are generally considered the among the best public high schools in their states. Some small schools also happen to be in university towns (Macomb in Illinois is a perfect example) and their success may be as a result of highly competitive academia cultures there.

You see state athletic associations divide teams into divisions based upon size (in Ohio, this comes into effect for playoffs, where there are SEVEN state championships for football) because there actually are serious disparities when it comes to physical ability and depth (my school had 82 boys and last year while one of our league opponents had 400 boys and when they played in football there were serious mismatches on the line and their 18 year old 6'4 300lb linemen put serious hurtings on our 15 year old 5'10 215 lb linemen). Instances like that are good applications for a school size motivated split. Quiz Bowl on the other hand does not incorporate physical skill and to say AP classes is what separates small public schools from privates/larger public schools is ludicrous. Motivation and practice is what evens that perceived inequality out.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Kenneth Widmerpool wrote:Is there anything that makes small schools inherently less competitive than their larger counterparts? If the answer is "no," then I think using an easier set sends the wrong message, regardless of how well or poorly these schools have performed in the past.
Mr. Scogan wrote:to say AP classes is what separates small public schools from privates/larger public schools is ludicrous. Motivation and practice is what evens that perceived inequality out.
Access to AP classes can be overcome with motivation and work ethic, and students at small schools don't lack for either just because they have fewer classmates. But one thing I've noticed as a teacher at a tiny school (<100 in grades 9-12) is that, to make the various different school activities run, the small number of active students have to take on a "jack of all trades" mentality. At my school, the school play, soccer, cross country, golf, and volleyball are all taking quizbowlers away from practices right now. In a larger school, the talent pool is large enough that the athletes specialize in sports, drama kids specialize in drama, and quizbowl kids specialize in quizbowl, and you can't really crack the starting lineup or grab a lead role without that specialization. At a small school, a player who is good at quizbowl (which, remember, is rarer because you have fewer students to work with) is highly likely to have skills that another club/activity also needs to function. His or her time gets stretched very, very thin.

Quizbowl's nature means that with even one good freshman, you could start at nothing and become nationally competitive within four years -- it's exceedingly rare, hitting-a-minor-lottery rare, but it's absolutely possible with a student of sufficient talent, work ethic, and devoted interest. The nature of small school life makes getting or teaching one of those devoted students nearly impossible -- and a team of 4 specialists is asking for four times as much out of that small talent pool.

That said, a talented team of students with sufficient talent and sufficient work ethic, but myriad interests that take time away from quizbowl, can put up 18-20 PPB on regular difficulty sets and 12-15 PPB at HSNCT while still having enough time for the other activities a small school asks of them. The quizbowl community's come to the conclusion that it's a better event if the average PPB is closer to 18 than to 12, so if SSNCT is going to exist (and I think it should; it has a chance to be great for outreach), I think you've got to make the questions easier than HSNCT. (I do think it should be harder than IS set -- it's a bigger, more competitive event than your standard Saturday tournament, so it should be at least marginally more difficult, too.)

Being nationally competitive is a very high bar; setting a lower standard of difficulty isn't an insult to the top one or two small schools per year that can play with the top 25 teams (because, if it does insult them, HSNCT still exists); it's being realistic for the benefit of the larger population of small schools.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Cheynem »

I agree in a vacuum with what Brad is saying; my problem with all of this though is that it effectively "punishes" the ambitious small schools, the ones who have the talent or the motivation or the moxie to either do well or strive to do well. If Small School A can actually hang with the Top 30 or so HS teams, why must it sacrifice being the "top small school"?

To put it another way, it is unlikely had a "Small School NCT" been around when I was in HS, that our team would have opted to go for it, as we wanted a crack at the top teams (and indeed, we beat Brookwood and just missed out on the playoffs--harder to get in back in those days, too). Since we decisively defeated the second place Small School team in the finals, we were definitively the top small school that year but would not have won the "Small School championship" because we opted to play harder competition. This idea bothers me.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill »

Cheynem wrote:I agree in a vacuum with what Brad is saying; my problem with all of this though is that it effectively "punishes" the ambitious small schools, the ones who have the talent or the motivation or the moxie to either do well or strive to do well. If Small School A can actually hang with the Top 30 or so HS teams, why must it sacrifice being the "top small school"?

To put it another way, it is unlikely had a "Small School NCT" been around when I was in HS, that our team would have opted to go for it, as we wanted a crack at the top teams (and indeed, we beat Brookwood and just missed out on the playoffs--harder to get in back in those days, too). Since we decisively defeated the second place Small School team in the finals, we were definitively the top small school that year but would not have won the "Small School championship" because we opted to play harder competition. This idea bothers me.
I agree with Mike Cheyne. The year we won Small School, had there been a SSNCT, I would have been really torn on which tournament to go to. Most small schools are not Beachwood or Macob, and I'm sure even those teams struggle with funding like most quizbowl squads to, so the vast majority of these teams will have to choose between HSNCT and SSNCT. And for me, that would have been really hard. I was on the NASAT team, engaged with the community, and working really hard to get our team as competitive within both the state and national scenes as possible. I wanted to play the same nationals as the kids from State College or Northmont or Olmsted Falls. Going to SSNCT would have taken a little of the excitement out of going to nationals, even though my ultimate goal was winning the SS National Title that year. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't like how this idea takes away a truly special opportunity from some of the hardest working teams in the country. HSNCT is an amazing event, and probably the most fun quizbowl event to be involved in, period. A separate SSNCT takes away an opportunity to be a part of that.

At the very least, make the difficulty level somewhere around D2 SCT. If it's going to be a national championship and not just an outreach opportunity, make sure the questions reflect that.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Stained Diviner »

While we're discussing whether small schools can be as good as large schools at the national level, let us take this opportunity to congratulate 2004 Cutter Morning Star for being the last small school to finish in the top ten at HSNCT (tied for 6th out of 64 schools) and 2005 Danville for being the last small school to finish in the top twenty at HSNCT (tied for 20th out of 96 schools).

The fact that some small schools will have a difficult decision to make isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are a lot of schools that for similar reasons have to make a difficult choice between HSNCT and NSC. They make their decision and, one way or the other, go to a very good tournament.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by quizbowllee »

I have had the rather odd distinction of having ONLY coached at "Small Schools," despite having coached at three different high schools in three different school systems. I've learned some things in that time.

First, AP classes are HIGHLY over-rated in regards to how much they help in quiz bowl. During my time at Brindlee Mountain, there were no AP classes at all - at least until my last year there - where I taught AP English and Comp. This was the only AP class offered at the school. There is no doubt that my teams at Brindlee Mountain were the best I've coached so far - particularly in 2007 and 2008. Those kids NEVER had AP courses.

Then, I moved to Columbia High School in Huntsville. This school was FULL of AP classes and also offered IB. My team was made up of students who were excelling in AP and IB courses, scoring fours and fives on exams, etc. I loved those kids, and I mean no disrespect, but those two years were the weakest teams I've coached. After so many years of hearing about how AP classes made ALL the difference in the world, I was expecting a group of kids - who had been fed a steady academic diet of Pre-AP, AP, and IB courses - to excel at quiz bowl. This simply wasn't the case.

Now, I'm at West Point High. We do not currently offer an AP courses. But, I have a talented young group that shows a lot of promise. Last year was a shock to them, as they had never played outside of the local league using Questions Galore (yuck). I think they did very well for their first "real" year. I also think we're already much stronger this year than last year. And we're anchored by a strong couple of sophomores who have decided that quiz bowl is "their thing."

My point (if I have one) is that AP courses do not a quiz bowl player make. In my humble experience, quiz bowl ability comes through brute force of will and dedication to learning massive amounts of material just because you love it.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by kittysundae »

quizbowllee wrote:I will attempt to be as positive as possible about this. I have been against this since R. solicited my opinion a couple of years ago (much to his surprise). However, I gathered from the conversations I had with him at that time that this was an eventual inevitability. Therefore, my biggest complaint now is simply that we didn't have at least a one-year notice. We have been planning and budgeting for a trip to Chicago for HSNCT this year. If we had been aware of this SSNCT event, we would have spent more time over the summer raising funds and discussing how to get there. We planned to drive to Chicago (about 10 hours), which is a very inexpensive way to get 10 kids to a tournament. However, driving to Minneapolis is probably not feasible.

Also, I feel obligated to attend the SSNCT because it's the tournament in which we will be most competitive with the rest of the field. But, I also feel like I'll be selling my team short by not letting them play against the "big dogs." This is causing a budgetary/scheduling nightmare for us.

On the upside, I am glad to see the Small Schools get more attention overall. However, I still wish this could've been accomplished under the auspices of the current HSNCT. But, I also understand why this was difficult to achieve.

I do, though, wish that the questions at SSNCT would be on the same level as HSNCT. I may be in the minority among Small School Coaches, but it seems a little condescending to lower the difficulty.

OK. OK. I said I would be positive. So... yeah. This IS exciting and I do look forward to it. Minneapolis is FAR away from Alabama, but it will be fun to go somewhere new for a change.
Lee, as a player I completely agree with you but my coach won't be allowing us to attend small school nationals because it is the weekend BEFORE AP EXAMS. I think they should cancel it and merge the tournaments again.

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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Whiter Hydra »

kittysundae wrote:Lee, as a player I completely agree with you but my coach won't be allowing us to attend small school nationals because it is the weekend BEFORE AP EXAMS. I think they should cancel it and merge the tournaments again.
Tournaments are always going to have conflicts. Many teams cannot go to HSNCT or NSC every year because of graduation, for example, and it is extremely unfeasible to try to work around every single scheduling conflict.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by kayli »

No one's saying that all conflicts have to be avoided. It's just that AP week is a really big, really important conflict that should be avoided whenever possible. I'm guessing a lot of people who play quizbowl and who would like to do well at a national tournament would also be taking AP exams and would want to do well in those, especially considering APs have quantifiable college value. I understand that it's annoying when year after year people ask tournaments to be moved around for whatever reasons, but let's not be so blase about AP week.

Also, graduations are distributed across the months of May and June, whereas AP exams are the same for everyone. I think it'd be better to err on the side of "not AP week" (and within some epsilon thereof) rather than not. Though it seems that the conflicts in the existing quizbowl schedule probably makes this impossible for NAQT, and so this is probably the best week possible (though why are more national tournaments not in April?).
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by fett0001 »

We rely on college players to staff nationals and they're in school until may.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Susan »

Perhaps more to the point, collegiate players' own nationals take up two of those weekends and History Bowl takes up another. Avoiding staffing fatigue during April is probably a good move.
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! »

Just a question that sprung to my head, how/why are charter schools eligible to participate in this competition?
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Re: Small School NCT discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

The key words are "non-selective admissions policy." Charter schools that conduct admissions by random lottery are welcome to attend SSNCT (assuming they meet the rest of the criteria regarding enrollment and public status).
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