Rating services and contests

Awards and accolades – everyone wants them. Especially in this era of accountability, recognition of achievement offers a measure of effectiveness. Community members and boards relish the awards students earn.

Parents and students value the experiences leading to honors, as well as the actual awards and what they signify to scholarship grantors, colleges and employers.

Rating services and contests are plentiful at the local, state and national levels. Advisers and teachers should be familiar with these services, including rankings and evaluation of individual student work or staff products. Because judging is a subjective process, administrators should encourage students’ participation in a range of competitions so they receive a variety of ideas and suggestions.

Administrators, students and teachers should not emphasize winning over the experience of participation. Further, students should produce work in alignment with course and professional standards, and not simply to please judges.

Rating services and contests are valuable to scholastic journalism educators because:
• They are instructive, providing standards for measuring students’ work, and they reinforce classroom learning. These services recognize student achievement and praise outstanding accomplishments.
• Feedback identifies whether students meet goals and course objectives and suggest ways to improve the product.
• Competition and rating service evaluations are instructional tools for teachers and students. Some contest sponsors also offer samples of winning entries with judges’ feedback in useful formats.