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California high school speech association

Speech survey

Based on community feedback, we will be going forward with a hybrid model of speech at the 2021 CHSSA State Championship.

As part of the hybrid model, students will submit pre-recorded videos for all preliminary rounds. All students who qualify to the semi-final and final rounds will compete live via video-conferening software. One major change will be occurring  thanks to the coach comments on our survey. We heard, and share, your concerns about the waiver process for live rounds potentially singling out economically disadvantaged students. As such, we have updated our plan to be more equitable in this regard and have removed the waiver requirement. 

Under our new plan, if any student in any live speech round (semi-finals and final rounds) faces technical difficulties for any reason, even mid-speech, that competitor will be given 2 speech cycles (20 minutes) to work out their connection. If the connection cannot be restored for any reason during this time, then a proctor in the round will queue up that student’s pre-recorded video and play it for the judges. As we know, even the best WiFi can go out, so this will equally apply to all students without anyone being singled out for their economics. Judges will be instructed about implicit bias and asked to please be lenient in understanding the universal tech challenges we face.

How We got here

Schools were asked to choose between three potentials models for speech competition (except Extemporaneous and Impromptu speaking) at state 2021.


 Fully pre-recorded videos used for all rounds.


Pre-recorded videos used in preliminary rounds and live outrounds via video conferencing.

The Survey Results


Fully live competition via video conferencing for all rounds.

in total 126 schools voted

The vote was conducted by sending the survey to all CHSSA member schools. Schools were given until February 16th to vote whether they wanted to pursue an asynchronous, hybrid, or synchronous model for the speech rounds at the 2021 CHSSA State Tournament. 

Asynchronous Votes

Hybrid votes

Synchronous votes

Breaking down the vote

Schools from across the state were given the opportunity to respond to the survey. The total vote count is broken down by Area and League below. 

Area 1



Area 2




Area 3




Area 4




Survey Comments

Below are some of the comments that we received from coaches across the state about the different proposed models.  

Synchronous format provides the best competition, but having an asynchronous option is more equitable which is why I’ve selected [the hybrid option]. The experience of live competition mimics that of in-person competition that has so much value for the performers.

“Synchronous, even with the option of videos, is inherently inequitable. Representing a school that has a significant number of low income students, I see students struggle with finding quiet, undisturbed space and time to compete live – especially for multiple rounds on one day. Many have opted out of synchronous tournaments completely. While I understand the positives of synchronous competition (and the drawbacks of asynchronous), I believe that asynchronous competition is the most evenhanded. The allowing of videos makes it more palatable, but that also depends on how difficult it is to get a waiver.

An essential element of our sport of speech and debate is physical presence. That’s why TV stars do theater even though they don’t have to. They need to be watched in person by human beings. If speech and debate loses that, we’ve lost quite a bit.

Seeking equity


In order to respond to the needs of our diverse populations, CHSSA is offering programs, and tips on ways to improve your students’ state tournament experience. Click Below to see what we have been working on:

CHSSA Online Equity Information