Derived from "Author's Day" 

Judges' Guidelines 

Welcome to The American Freedom Essay Contest! Your role as a judge is vital in the process of learning about, and appreciating the uniquely American concept of freedom.

By accepting your role as a judge, you must commit the time necessary to read all the finalists' essays within 21 days of the contest deadline. You will also need to attend a meeting of the judges at which the winners will be determined.

1. Initial judging is performed by teachers from within the grade. Teachers swap their student's essays so that no teacher judges their own student's papers.

2. Teachers must select at least 20% of student's essays, rounded upwards, for submission to the finals. They may include more if they feel the quality is there. In grades with more than 250 children, additional similar rounds of internal review continue until the total number of finalists does not exceed 50.

3. Finalists are submitted to the judges panel. The judges panel includes the contest sponsor or sponsor's designee, a second person selected by the sponsor, and the school principal or principal's designee.

4. The judges independently evaluate all the finalists, "on their understanding of the uniquely American concept of freedom." The judges also take into account:



Quality and depth of research

Style, grammar, spelling, punctuation and composition

Effectiveness of the student's use of a quotation

5. The actual assessment of the essays is left largely to the judges' discretion. A judge may select a single essay and two more finalists that, in the judge's opinion, best express the subject and deal with the questions proposed in the contest. A judge may also choose to assign a numerical value to the highest quality essays, and use this as a guide when meeting with the other judges to determine the winners.

6. The prize winners are determined in a meeting of the three judges, at which the panel discusses the various merits, argues for and against various entries, and selects, amongst themselves, the first place and two finalist entries. At their discretion, judges may list additional entrants for honorable mention.

7. The decision of the judges is final.

8. The winners' names, and honorable mentions if any, are written down during the judges meeting and sealed in an opaque envelope, which will not be opened until the award ceremony. The winning essays are also sealed in the envelope, and it is this copy of the winner that will be read aloud.

9. Contest timetable:

Starting date (give the rules to the students)

Due date (60 days from starting date. That date will be __________________; give students a reminder a week ahead)

Teachers select finalists (7 days later)

Judges decision reached (within 21 days of teachers first cut)

Awards program

10. To ensure impartiality, unfortunately, the sponsoring parent's child is automatically ineligible for the contest prizes. However, the sponsor's child should be encouraged to participate, and will win in the following ways:

The sponsor's child presents the winners' prizes on stage at the awards ceremony.

Sponsors agree to take their children out for a contest celebration, to a location of the child's choice. At this private celebration, the sponsor's child's entry and the winning entry are read aloud and compared.

Thank you once again for participating as a judge in 
The American Freedom Essay Contest!

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