About the Honor Society
The National Speech & Debate Association’s Honor Society recognizes middle school and high school students and coaches for participation in speech and debate activities. Students earn merit points for participation in one of the oldest and most respected honor societies known to college admissions offices.
Members of the Honor Society are held to the Code of Honor, the highest standards of humility, equity, integrity, respect, leadership, and service. Character, personal accountability, and social responsibility have been valued by our organization since our founding in 1925. The Code of Honor reflects the core values of and standards for participation within our organization. Over the past 90 years, we’ve celebrated the honorable actions and achievements of nearly two million alumni.
Members earn merit points through competition, service, and leadership activities. Whether they’re debating in the classroom, volunteering, speaking at a rally, or acting on stage, students use what they learn in speech and debate every day. Merit points reward and encourage members to use their skills to improve their schools and communities.
Points are entered by an advisor or coach with designated permissions via their NSDA Account. Students may earn up to 75 points before becoming members. The following tables provide examples of point values.
|Debate Result||Merit Points Earned|
|Winning a round of Debate
||HS NSDA Events*: 6
HS non-NSDA Events: 4
|Losing a round of Debate||HS NSDA Events: 3HS non-NSDA Events: 2
*NSDA "Main" Debate Events are Policy Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, World Schools Debate, and Big Questions
|8-pt scale||30-pt scale||60-100-pt scale||Merit Pts/speech||Tourn. place||Merit Points Earned|
|1||1-7||60-69||1||(and so forth)|
*MS earns 1-5 points per speech, up to 10 points/day
|Rank||Rating||Rating||Rating||Grade||Merit Points Earned|
|1||Superior||25||95-100||HS NSDA Events*: 6
HS non-NSDA Events: 5
|2||Excellent||24||90-94||HS NSDA Events: 5
HS non-NSDA Events: 4
|3||OR||Good/Exceeds Expectations||20-23||71-89||A||HS NSDA Events: 4
HS non-NSDA Events: 3
|4||Fair/Meets Expectations||15-19||42-70||B||HS NSDA Events: 3
HS non-NSDA Events: 2
|5 or lower||Average/Does Not Meet Expectations||10-14||10-41||C||HS NSDA Events: 2
HS non-NSDA Events: 1
*NSDA "Main" Speech Events are: Extemporaneous Speaking, Original Oratory, Humorous Interp, Dramatic Interp, Duo Interp, Program Oral Interp, and Informative Speaking
**Severe deficiency, and therefore, not worth any points
|Service Activity||Merit Points Earned|
|Speaking Service Activity (5+ adults)||1-20pts/day, approx. 2pts/hr|
|Non-speaking Service Activity||1-20pts/day, approx. 2pts/hr|
Examples only. Additional rules and restrictions apply. See the unified manual for more details.
As members earn points they also earn new Honor Society degrees. Degrees recognize progress, provide motivation, and offer distinction. Each time a new degree is earned, members are mailed a corresponding seal for their custom membership certificate to be kept as a keepsake or displayed at school.
While students earn points, so do coaches! Coaches earn the same milestones as students until they earn 10,000 points and the Donus D. Roberts Coaching Excellence Award. Once coaches earn 15,000 points and have been coaching for at least five years, they will receive their First Diamond Award.
The Road to Premier Distinction
Every student’s journey may be a little different, but whatever path you take, you should be proud of being a member of the National Forensic League Honor Society!
| ProTip |
An induction ceremony is a great way to celebrate new members of your team as they build their confidence, tap into their creativity, collaborate with teammates, improve their communication, and increase their critical thinking skills. Check out tools for planning your event!
Every day, the National Speech & Debate Association works to connect, support, and inspire a diverse community committed to empowering students through competitive speech and debate. A big part of our mission is centered on celebrating the incredible achievements of our members.