Parents complaining about questions

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MahoningQuizBowler
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Parents complaining about questions

Post by MahoningQuizBowler »

I received an e-mail from someone claiming to be a parent of a student on one of the teams in the league I run. She claims that the questions are too hard, that it makes the kids feel stupid, and that the matches aren't fun anymore.

I've sent the e-mail on to the coaches for their input, but here are questions I have...

1.) Do I reply directly? I have not done so yet...

2.) If teams in your league do not travel outside of their limited area, is it necesssary to provide difficult questions that they may hear at regional/state levels since they will not hear them anywhere else?

3.) When the league has grown from 9 teams to 12 in the past two seasons and the county tournament will have 16 teams for the first time this year, should I be concerned when this person says that students at 5 high schools are unhappy with the way things are going?

I would appreciate input from people who may have had to deal with these issues.

Thanks.

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Irreligion in Bangladesh
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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

2 questions and 2 statistics to look at for this problem:

What is the maximum number of points you have per game?
How many tossups are there?

How many ppg does the highest ranked team average?
How many ppg does the middle team average?
(What percentage of total ppg are these?)

If a game between the two middle teams scores less than 1/3 the points, maybe it is too hard. For example, the 24 question matches our conference runs average about 280 ppg out of 720, plus anywhere between 50-175 more for our opponent. We consider these questions too easy, and more than half the points are usually scored.

Look at the statistics to find out if the argument is substantiated. If these "5 high schools" are the 5 lowest, it is not. After the stats have been analyzed, then look over your options again.

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Post by David Riley »

I would add:


What type of team do you aspire to? If you want a competitiive team, you need to be prepared to face competition that does use tough(er) questions. If, on the other hand, quiz bowl is a more casual activity, then it doesn't matter as much, and they(and their parents) can't complain if a more competitive team slaughters them.

We are always wrestling with this problem in Illinois (I'll resist elaboration, but several on this board know what I'm talking about). I agree that quiz bowl should be fun, but again, if it is run as a competition, then you have to be competivitie! And is it really fun if you lose more often than you win?

And I wouldn't reply directly unless you have the support of your administration.

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Post by Tegan »

Jumping the David Riley bandwagon:

1. I would double check with your admin, just to cover yourself.

2. I would start asking the coaches, and I would start asking the players. I have found them to be candid most of the time. If the better players and better teams are saying that the questions edge toward being too tough, I might consider easing up a little bit.

3. I have written questions sets with two versions: the "tough" and the "easy"...and allow teams to choose. The competitive teams choose the tough because they want to be challenged. The teams doing it "for fun" take the easy set.

4. About five years ago, I took on the two year post as head question writer and editor for the Illinois State Championship Series. Before I wrote my first question, I consulted with a variety of coaches and wrote a "philosophy of question writing": Given two average to slightly above average teams, about 70-75% of the toss-ups should be answerable. Each bonus should have an easy part, 1-2 tough parts, and a challenging part (as we likened it at the time: sweeping a bonus should be like hitting a home run.......doable a few times per match, but not all of the time, unless you have a stud(dette) on your team).

You should decide what constitues a successful question set in your mind, and research see if the statistics in the matches agree or disagree with what should be happening.

But, to back up what Dr. Riley was thinking but not saying: don't give in to the base elements. I bet your questions are pretty good!

BTW....it sounds like you are expanding as a League. Is the complaint from a parent from a new team? You might politely explain that this is the way the League is run, and that if the player studies and works harder, chances are the league will be more fun.

MahoningQuizBowler
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Post by MahoningQuizBowler »

A reply, carefully reviewed through the administration, has been sent.

The format is Ohio format, so the stats have to reflect that. The perfect possible score, not counting bonuses, is 100. There are team questions, tossups, alphabet round worksheets, and a lightning round. How might that affect any analysis done?

In terms of competitiveness, this is the tricky thing here as well. The league/tournament champion last year was the team from this county ever to get to State. They have a good chance of getting back there this year. The three new members of the league are in second, third, and fourth respectively.

The trouble seems to be coming from the old guard, schools that were good under previous questions and previous league adminstration but now are experiencing a downturn in their fortunes.

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Post by Tegan »

MahoningQuizBowler wrote:A reply, carefully reviewed through the administration, has been sent.

The format is Ohio format, so the stats have to reflect that. The perfect possible score, not counting bonuses, is 100. There are team questions, tossups, alphabet round worksheets, and a lightning round. How might that affect any analysis done?
Coming from Illinois (where our favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla), you need to deice what constitutes good scoring. Ask the coaches to start tracking scores for you.....and have them e-mail you (maybe even have them break down the score by round: TU, alph wrkshts, lightning).

On the one hand, this smells a bit like sour grapes.....Lenin gets torn down, and the communists are proturbed! I would look into it, but don't make any drastic changes unless you are really sure there is a problem. Have faith: it sounds like you have been doing this for a while.

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dtaylor4
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Post by dtaylor4 »

As a player, I like to see variety in questions. My preferences when it comes to questions are those sets with PLEASE MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE I SPEAK NEITHER LATIN NOR ENGLISH that share the same category as tossups. I hate barely beating a team to a question and then getting a bonus on movie quotes or some other TRASH. I have to agree with the others' stance on this and consult players in and outside the League. In my league (Central Illinois Scholastic League, or CISL), anything can happen. For our triangulars, the neutral side for each match supplies questions, and for the tournaments, the writer is someone known for writing middle school questions, so there's a lot of trash and a LOT of repeats (this year alone, a question about baklava VERBATIM came up in at least five of nine rounds) It was so bad that we ended up going 6-2 and still winning based on the breakdown of the head-to-head between the top three (3rd lost to 2nd and 1st, 2nd lost to 1st and some other team, and we lost to two bozo teams)

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Deviant Insider
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Post by Deviant Insider »

Did you read Time Magazine last week?

If the coaches and players are happy, then that is all that matters.

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dtaylor4
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Post by dtaylor4 »

unfortunately, i did not, mr. reinstein. if you could, would you possibly post a synopsis or something to enlighten us?

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Post by Deviant Insider »

The article talked about the fact that recent surveys of teachers, both new and experienced, show that the part of their job that teachers hate the most is dealing with parents. The article focused largely on the problems caused by some loud upper middle class parents who obsess endlessly about their kids' grades and college prospects and who complain often. It quoted one parent who explained why she sat in on her kid's classes so that she could understand everything going on in his classes. It also brought up parents who oppose any mention of evolution or, on the other hand, biblical quotes.

If I received the letter described above, I would contact the coach of the team it came from (or at least the prime suspect if I didn't know for sure) and ask them what they thought of it. I would make very clear that I respected the coach's opinion and that there is nothing wrong with a coach making suggestions for improvement.

Some parents are loony. They may claim that four teams support them, but they may be lying. They may be upset because their kid does not answer many questions. On the other hand, most parents are very worthy of our respect. On a few levels, Quiz Bowl would not exist were it not for parents. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to tell whether somebody is loony from a letter.

MahoningQuizBowler
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Post by MahoningQuizBowler »

All coaches were forwarded a copy of the letter, and the administration (Educational Service Center) created a "plus/delta" form so coaches can diagram their likes and dislikes.

Things are just getting a bit chippy here at the end of the year, I'm afraid. Coaches are starting to lose patience and kids on teams who have no shot of winning the league or tournament are just waiting for the season to end.

My honest opinion is this: you can tell me I write long questions, you can tell me I write tricky questions, you can tell me I write hard questions, you can tell me my sources for questions are too collegiate for high school quizbowl, but you do NOT tell me I write bad questions. You haven't seen bad questions yet. If you want :chip: , then fine, but I'll have none of it. And, in all seriousness, when I first got involved in the activity, it was 1 vote of 1 superintendent away from disappearing. I've done way too much work to build the league to the point where it is and there is more to be done.

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Post by Captain Sinico »

You're right to stand on those principles. However, good questions should be good irregardless of the difficulty of their answers. If your questions are too hard, write questions on the same principle and of the same quality, but with easier answers.
If your initial questions are still open:
1.) I would not respond directly unless the letter explicitly requests it (I might reply cautiously in that case,) but I would take whatever steps necessary to combat whatever this person might try to do to you behind the scenes (speak with whomever's in charge, or whatever.) It's not for her to judge whether the questions are too hard. Are they too hard? What does the market say? How about the statistics?

2.) No, it's not necessary to write state-type difficulty questions at the league level. I'm not certain how your league structure is, but you should respond to the needs of your teams.

3.) Unless you get more solid confirmation than "Hi, I'm some random person and the following people are mad," I wouldn't worry. What I would do is check with the administrators of those programs and see what they have to say. Just remember that up to six kids being mad at one of your tournaments is not necessarily an indication that you're doing anything wrong. They aren't getting any better by running to mommy; maybe if whoever caused this hit the books or practiced instead of agitating for reform, they might suck less?

MaS

MahoningQuizBowler
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Post by MahoningQuizBowler »

League structure is 12 teams playing 11 matches consisting of 2 games each. Stats as of today...

Team W L T Points Scored
Poland 18 0 0 957
Boardman 13 5 0 739
Campbell 13 7 0 726
Struthers 12 4 0 728
West Branch 10 8 0 626
Canfield 10 8 0 615
South Range 8 6 0 602
Jackson-Milton 7 11 0 521
Lowellville 7 9 0 473
Western Reserve 4 14 0 359
Springfield 3 15 0 423
Sebring 1 19 0 320

There are some matches that need to be made up which accounts for the uneven number of games played. As stated before, the perfect score in Ohio format is 100 per game, so max for the season so far would be 1800.
Glean what you will...

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dtaylor4
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Post by dtaylor4 »

for a league, i think that as teams play against each other over and over, the questions should get more difficult as the season progresses because the players need to be improving as the season goes on. as for parents, why not have them write questions and see what happens to the scores?

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Post by superbunny »

I am actually a player on the JV milan Michigan team. Y ou should probably keep the same questions, as hard as they may be, and loosen up during practices more maybe. I have no idea how you run your practices of course, and this coming from a freshman, i probably don't understand these things as well as you do.

During practice we play a few serious games, and have one or maybe just a half a game where we goof off and just joke around a bit. It's not very constructive, but it loosens us up and makes it all the more fun. You should ask your players what they would like to happen during practices, and listen to some of their ideas instead of throwing them out the window.

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Irreligion in Bangladesh
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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

MahoningQuizBowler wrote:League structure is 12 teams playing 11 matches consisting of 2 games each. Stats as of today...

Team W L T Points Scored
Poland 18 0 0 957
Boardman 13 5 0 739
Campbell 13 7 0 726
Struthers 12 4 0 728
West Branch 10 8 0 626
Canfield 10 8 0 615
South Range 8 6 0 602
Jackson-Milton 7 11 0 521
Lowellville 7 9 0 473
Western Reserve 4 14 0 359
Springfield 3 15 0 423
Sebring 1 19 0 320

There are some matches that need to be made up which accounts for the uneven number of games played. As stated before, the perfect score in Ohio format is 100 per game, so max for the season so far would be 1800.
Glean what you will...
1st, 4th, 8th, 12th place teams:
Poland: 53 ppg, accounts for 53%, translates to 382 ppg in our league
Struthers: 45.5 ppg, 45.5%, 327 ppg
Jackson-Milton: 29 ppg, 29%, 209 ppg
Sebring: 16 ppg, 16%, 115 ppg

In our league (11 teams, 720 total ppg, 24 TU straight), 300 is considered excellent, 200 average, 100 below average. For example,
1 vs. 9 was a 260-75 game, and that's about par for the course.

Your teams match up rather well with ours, and the ppg are reasonable for the format. The stats don't tell me what I thought they would, for 5 teams being unhappy. Maybe they don't know what happy is yet. :)

MahoningQuizBowler
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Post by MahoningQuizBowler »

Those number can be a little misleading because of Ohio format. Of that 100 points, 50 of them are uncontested. 30 come in the form of team questions (10 categories x 3 points for a correct answer) and 20 in the form of a worksheet alphabet round. The other 50 are up in the air...30 in tossups during the categories and 20 at the end in the lightning round.

If you want the full breakdown by category, e-mail me at [email protected] or post on here and I will send it to you.

MahoningQuizBowler
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Post by MahoningQuizBowler »

In light of the above, maybe the better stat to use is this...the total number of points scored on tossups and lightning round questions. Max possible per round is 50.

Poland: 367 from 18 rounds; 20.4 ppg; 40.8%
Struthers: 280 from 16 rounds; 17.5 ppg; 35.0%
Boardman: 279 from 18 rounds; 15.5 ppg; 31.0%
Campbell: 271 from 18 rounds; 15.1 ppg; 30.1%
South Range: 233 from 14 rounds; 16.6 ppg; 33.3%
West Branch: 226 from 18 rounds; 12.6 ppg; 25.1%
Lowellville: 192 from 16 rounds; 12.0 ppg; 24.0%
Jackson-Milton: 186 from 18 rounds; 10.3 ppg; 20.7%
Canfield: 186 from 18 rounds; 10.3 ppg; 20.7%
Western Reserve: 146 from 18 rounds; 8.1 ppg; 16.2%
Springfield: 122 from 18 rounds; 6.8 ppg; 13.6%
Sebring: 89 from 18 rounds; 4.9 ppg; 9.8%

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dtaylor4
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Post by dtaylor4 »

Now that I think about it, what right does the parent have to complain about questions? They don't play, and most aren't even involved with a team on any level (except with their children)

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Post by Deviant Insider »

In America, everybody has the right to complain.

Parents have a special right to complain because they care about their kids and they often adjust their own schedules to accommodate ours. That does not mean that complaining is wise or that people have to do whatever they say.

It would have been more appropriate for the parent to talk to their team's coach about their concerns and encourage the coach to talk to the league manager adult-to-adult. Writing a complaint letter makes it more difficult later to negotiate and make nuanced suggestions with a back-and-forth. But, to paraphrase Rumsfeld (NT '50), we organize Quiz Bowl with the parents we have, not necessarily the parents we want.

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dtaylor4
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Post by dtaylor4 »

I agree with the first amendment and all, but I don't agree with the parent going straight to the head of the league. It's comparable to writing to the president saying that no child left behind sucks (which is screwing over dps 61, the district i'm in)

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Post by zwtipp »

As long as the questions are generally accesible, in quiz bowl terms, there shouldn't be a problem. If the kid does not want to study and get better and instead complains to his parents that the questions are too hard for him, it's mostly his fault for not trying to get better. If you dont' want to miss the questions, study and then you won't.
I definitely think that quiz bowl wouldn't be possible without the parents. Most of our trips are paid for by the parents and without their support, we'd barely be able to go to any tournaments.
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Post by Tegan »

Mahoning,

I looked over the materials that you sent me.

While I think you need to really make a decision for yourself, based on the objective information that you gave me, I don't see a problem....There are always parents out there who perceive any potential injurious thing to their kids as bad, and will try to get control of the situation. It stinks but as my colleague from TrevianNation said, people has a right to complain! The good news is, you have the right to handle it or ignore it. It sounds like you are very conscientious, so I say keep going...you'll be fine.


If you knew of any specific questions that people were compleining about, drop a few of them over to me, and I can check those out as well.

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