The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) has announced that Bella Vista High School is the winner of the 26th Annual Sacramento County Academic Decathlon competition. Bella Vista's Academic Decathlon team is now eligible to compete March 17-18 in Los Angeles for the state championship.
At Sacramento County's awards ceremony, held on February 7 at California State University, Sacramento, John F. Kennedy High School was awarded first place and Bella Vista High School was awarded second place. However, that announcement was made based on a misinterpretation of competition scoring guidelines.
"We take full responsibility for this error and deeply regret making it," Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon said today. "We extend our apologies to team members from Kennedy and Bella Vista, their families, and their supporters."
Academic Decathlon competition involves three categories of participants: three Honors students (those with "A" grade averages), three Scholastic ("B" average) students, and three Varsity ("C" average). The scoring software provided by the national Academic Decathlon organization produced inconsistent results during pre-event testing. Considering the program unreliable, SCOE Academic Decathlon staff consulted competition guidelines for direction in tallying scores.
SCOE representatives interpreted the guidelines to dictate that the lowest score on individual tests in each category must be discarded in final calculations. All teams in the county's February 4 competition were judged using those standards and Kennedy High was awarded first place. The county office learned this week that the national scoring formula actually excludes the lowest overall score within each category, which changed the Sacramento County outcome.
The maximum number of points a team can score in an Academic Decathlon competition is 60,000. Following the updated tally from the Sacramento County competition, Bella Vista High School earned 40,230 points and Kennedy High earned 39,996. Only 234 points separated the top two teams.
"The margin separating these two teams was less than one percent," Superintendent Gordon said. "We are hoping both teams can qualify to advance. We are working with the Kennedy High team in an appeal to state organizers."
Twenty local high schools each sent teams to the 26th Annual Sacramento County Academic Decathlon, which was held on February 4 at Folsom High School. The all-day event represented months of study and preparation by students and their teacher-coaches. Culminating the event was the oral portion of the Super Quiz, in which each team competed head-to-head against the others in answering tough questions on this year's theme, "The European Renaissance: Renewal and Reform."
The countywide Academic Decathlon is conducted by SCOE staff and volunteers.