The Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) is the governing body for middle school and junior high school athletics and activities in Illinois. It is an affiliate of the National Federation of State High School Associations. It has existed since the late 1920s.
Although the vast majority of Illinois high schools are members of the analogous IHSA, many Illinois middle schools and junior high schools are not members of the IESA; membership is especially low in the Chicago area.
The IESA began sponsoring Scholastic Bowl in 1989.
State Tournament Format
Since 1997 the IESA Scholastic Bowl State Series has divided schools into two classes based on size (designated "AA" for larger schools and "A" for smaller schools). Within each class, schools are assigned to one of eight geographic sectionals, and each sectional is divided into four regionals. Teams play to advance from regionals to sectionals to the state championship.
IESA matches consist of 24 tossups and 20 bonuses. Excluding ties, the match ends when either the 24th tossup has been read, the 20th bonus has been read, or either team exceeds 300 points. Ties are broken using tossups only; the team that is first to answer two tossups correctly wins.
All tossups are worth ten points; there are no powers or negs. All bonus questions are four parts, with each part worth 5 points each. Unlike in standard quiz bowl, but like the IHSA format used until 2012, the entire bonus is read before teams have any opportunity to confer or answer, so no bonus part can mention a previous part's answer, which significantly constrains the writing style. After the question is read completely, both teams have up to 30 seconds to confer; the controlling team may end conferral early. After conferral, the controlling team gives its answers, then the non-controlling team may attempt to answer any parts the controlling team missed.
IESA Scholastic Bowl rules contain many stipulations about behavior. Perhaps the most famous behavior rule is that when the bonus conferral period ends, all players must put down their writing implements; a penalty is given to any team with a player who does not do so, even if they are clearly not writing or communicating.
Protests are not allowed in IESA matches (rule 6, article 2, c2, case manual 6-1-2b). Coaches may call a "Clarification time out" in order to ask questions about a moderator decision, but not to protest the acceptability of answers.
The questions used in IESA tournament play have been the antithesis of good quizbowl practice for its entire existence. For many years, the questions were provided by Questions Galore, with Avery Enterprises taking over after Avery purchased Questions Galore. While a small number of coaches have been fighting to bring the IESA into line with the rest of the nation, this has yet to produce good questions for the tournament.
IESA vs. IHSA
Historically, the IHSA has kept a great distance from quizbowl coaches and players, with change and reform taking a long time because of the lack of good communication between coaches and IHSA administrators. The IESA, while still using a top-down approach that limits communication, has shown far more interest in working in their community. Among other initiatives, the IESA sponsors a well-attended annual meeting for coaches and officials with workshops which can be helpful to new coaches. The IESA has a link on its website which advertises local tournaments. The IESA also recently began experimenting with online scorecards.
The questions, format, and quirky rules, however, have been a barrier to crossover between IHSA and IESA officials. Many people who work IHSA events as moderators and scorekeepers have refused to work IESA events. This is largely due to the questions being so problematic, and moderators having limited time and ability to repair the questions.