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 distinction through speech and debate competition, as well as community service, public speaking, and leadership activities. Coaches simultaneously earn the points recorded for their students. Members are eligible to join the Honor Society once they have earned the required number of points. As members earn additional points, they also earn new degrees in our Honor Society, which offer distinction, recognize progress, and provide motivation. Over the past 90 years, we’ve celebrated the achievements of nearly two million alumni.
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, adopted in 2007 and revised in 2020, reflects the core values and behavioral expectations of our organization.
To become a member of the National Speech & Debate Association’s Honor Society, student members must abide by the Code of Honor. High school and middle school students become members upon placement on their school roster.
Middle school memberships are $10 and cover 6th through 8th grade participation. High school memberships are $20 for the student’s entire high school career.
How to Earn Merit Points
Students may earn points by participating in a number of speech and debate activities including interscholastic competition, public speaking events, and service activities. The following tables are only examples. For a complete explanation of Honor Society points, see the Unified Manuals. Coaches may also consult our FAQ with step-by-step instructions and animated GIFs with tips on managing your school’s account and team roster.
|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|
|Giving a speech to 25+ People (HS only)||5 (per speech)|
|Judging a Novice/Middle School Round (HS only)||2 (per round)|
|Coaching a Middle School practice (HS only)||2 (per hour)|
|Acting in a High School play (HS only)||5 (per performance)|
|Classroom Presentation (MS only)||1 (per performance, 1/day)|
|Community Speaking (MS only)||1 (per speech, 1/day)|
|Theater (MS only)||2 (per performance)|
Examples only. Additional rules and restrictions apply. See the unified manual for more details.
The more points you earn for participating, the higher degrees and seals you will earn for your achievements.
Coaches are also recognized for their hard work and expertise in the Honor Society. Coaches simultaneously earn the points recorded for their students. 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!
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| 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!