High School Model UN Rankings 2011-2012: Purpose, Philosophy, and Methodology

by KFC on April 10, 2012

Which high school Model UN teams are the best in North America? We saw many benefits to creating a High School Model UN Rankings system and are about to release the Spring rankings update for the 2011-2012 school year (results up through April 1, 2012). The Final rankings for the 2011-2012 school year will be released in June after all conferences have taken place. Here’s what you need to know about our purpose, our philosophy, and changes made to the methodology before diving into the rankings.

Purpose

We want top teams to be recognized for their accomplishments in a centralized location and we want other teams to aspire to become a top team. We believe sharing this information will be interesting and valuable to the community and that it will foster discussion among high school Model UN teachers, conference organizers, and delegates on bigger issues that affect the activity such as the lack of a standardized awards criteria and transparency, creating the proper competitive or educational experience, and the sharing of best training methods.

We do not believe that awards are the purpose of Model UN — rather, awards are a way to recognize Model UN teams for their hard work and leadership in committee. Awards should support the greater purpose of Model UN, which is to be an educational experience that helps today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders, discover their passions, and change the world.

Philosophy

It is important to understand that rankings inherently reflect the publisher’s philosophy and values. Best Delegate’s mission is to grow the Model UN activity in terms of both quality and size. Therefore, we ultimately value both the ability to win and the ability to win at more conferences – we believe the best teams are those that can perform consistently well across many conferences and especially so at the most competitive conferences.

Our ideal rankings would reward success for winning at more conferences without a cap on number of scores and would not penalize teams for losing so-called “head-to-head matchups” at a single conference. It would reward teams for bringing larger delegations to conferences as it would use total weighted score of awards won instead of an awards-to-delegate ratio. It would also rank teams that may not have won a delegation award but won more consistently over teams that just gained publicity from winning a small delegation award at a small conference. Finally, it would reward teams that performed exceptionally well at a certain conference by winning a higher proportion of the awards available.

Unfortunately, we do not have enough awards data at the moment for most high school MUN conferences beyond the largest ones and have to rely on delegation awards information for now when creating our rankings. In the future, we hope to improve our methodology to look more like our College Rankings methodology where we have full awards data from almost all the conferences.

Methodology

Methodology

The rankings for high schools in North America are determined by the sum of the four highest scores achieved per team at conferences held in North America. A score for each conference is determined by converting delegation awards won or the total number of awards won (when information is available) into points and then multiplying those points by a conference competitiveness weighting. Greater weighting is given to awards won at the more competitive conferences. We decided to cap the number of conferences at four for this year since there is a disparate availability of Model UN conferences across geographic regions, although we anticipate to change this cap in the future. Conferences that did not submit awards data are excluded. One-day novice conferences hosted by high schools are also excluded since they focus more on training than on competition.

Essentially, the formula used for the rankings is the sum of the four highest scores when multiplying Delegation Award Score by Conference Weighting.

  • Delegation Award Score: Delegation awards are converted into points. We valued delegation awards in this order: Best Large, Outstanding Large, Best Small, and Outstanding Small. Some conferences feature other types of delegation awards and we converted them appropriately depending on if that award is considered more or less prestigious than the aforementioned four awards. When data is available, teams that won numerous awards but did not win a delegation award will have their scores converted to be equivalent of placing “3rd,” “4th,” and so on.
  • Conference Weighting: Every conference is assigned a competitiveness multiplier based on our internal algorithm that takes into account total size of the conference, the number of award-winning teams present, the distribution of awards among teams present, the delegate-to-committee ratio, the number of days of the conference, the number of pages in the background guide, and whether it was hosted by a university/non-profit organization or a high school.

Conferences

The conferences with national significance in the Spring update of the 2011-2012 rankings include the conferences below. They are divided by the range of their Conference Weightings and listed in alphabetical order of their conference acronym. Results from many other smaller conferences are considered for the rankings, although there are too many of them to list here.

Most Competitive:

  • Harvard HMUN, U.Penn ILMUNC, Georgetown NAIMUN
  • Berkeley BMUN, U.Chicago MUNUC, Nationals NHSMUN

Large:

  • Princeton PMUNC, George Washington WAMUNC
  • Boston University BosMUN, UCLA BruinMUN, Brown BUSUN, Chicago CIMUN, Georgia Tech GTMUN, Johns Hopkins JHUMUNC, Rutgers RUMUN, McGill SSUNS, Virginia VAMUN, William & Mary WMHSMUN, Yale YMUN

Regional:

  • Regionals RHSMUN, Southwest Florida SWFLMUN
  • Columbia CMUNCE, Cornell CMUNC, Central Texas CTMUN, Duke DUMUNC, Edison EHSMUN, Florida International FIMUN, Florida GatorMUN, Houston Area HAMUN, Michigan State MSUMUN, San Antonio MUNSA, Mission Viejo MVHSMUN, Stanford SMUNC, Huntington Beach Surf City MUN, Southern United States SUSMUN, Tustin THSMUN, Topeka TMUN, Michigan UMMUN

Teams that participated at any conference earned points for them and are included in the rankings (unless we received incomplete awards data). It is important to note that some teams participate in other conferences such as conferences abroad and their ranking may not reflect the actual quality of the program as their achievements from these other conferences are not reflected under our methodology.

  • David Logsman

    Just out of curiosity wasn’t PMUNC considered as a highly competitive conference…the most competitive of the fall with a great number of powerhouse teams attending. Does conference size over rule competitiveness?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

      It is but there were a few conferences that we deemed to be more competitive overall. Bigger does not necessarily mean a conference is more competitive, but size is a factor if that meant there are more award winning teams present.

      • David Logsman

        My interpretation of competitive was that you were looking at top 15 schools versus top 100 as p15 schools usually tend to win a higher concentration of awards at each conference. PMUNC had Horace, Dalton, WWP South and North, Uchicago, Oceanside and PHS. Whereas HMUN i believe had JPS, Oceanside and Uchicago.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

          Hi David,

          That’s true that they win a higher proportion, but it’s difficult to attribute that statistically. Like I mentioned to LGMUN below, it either meant the schools were just so dominant that they took most of the awards or it could’ve meant the other teams at the conference weren’t that good to begin with and it made it easy for the top teams to win. That’s why we included four conference scores in the rankings as a check and balance.

          Also, the tricky part about HMUN is that a lot of good foreign teams snapped up the awards, so it’s deceptive when we look at the rankings and don’t see a lot of good North American teams attending Harvard. JPS, Chicago Lab, Oceanside, and Port Charlotte took home 11-16 awards each, then the next tier that took home 7-8 awards each were all from outside North America. No other team won more than 3 awards (including a few teams that had attended PMUNC and other large conferences) which demonstrated that the foreign teams were clearly top-notch. In essence, these foreign teams have become the equivalent of a top-15 team in terms of boosting a conference’s competitiveness, but we’ve just separated them out of the North American rankings.

          • David Logsman

            Yea that is actually a very interesting point about large winter conferences (most competitive category) that they do draw a lot of international schools. Are you guys planning to some type or ranking or recognition for international high schools?This can allow people like myself to get a well rounded view of MUN as far as weighting conferences goes.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Zander-Daniel/100002135252424 Zander Daniel

          Although I totally understand the rationale behind the weighting of HMUN/ ILMUNC vs PMUNC, I think David is really on to something here. From the sense I get, KFC’s real attempt with the weighting is to measure how difficult it would be for a school to perform in the top 10 or 15 at a conference rather than win a delegation award.

          Having attended both conferences, I think one would be foolish to make the case that it was more difficult to finish in the top 3 at ILMUNC than it was at PMUNC. At ILMUNC, WWP South, WWP North, and Horace Mann won awards on the vast majority of committees that they had seats on. Outsides of these three schools, the lack of top 15 schools nationally enabled them to be a cut above the rest. From a numerical standpoint, Horace Mann and WWP South (the two large delegation winners at ILMUNC) combined to win 11 best delegate awards at ILMUNC, while only 4 at PMUNC.

          However, I think KFC has a really valid point in saying that it was probably harder to place between the top 10 or 15 at conferences rated most competitive, because of the depth of schools at those conferences. If that is what conference weighting is tied to, then I believe this isn’t too off the mark.

          That being said, if the weighting is an attempt to classify how difficult it is to win a delegation award or finish in the top 5 in total awards, then I believe PMUNC ought to be valued more. Given the number of really solid schools at PMUNC (ie. UC Lab, Horace Mann, Dalton, WWP South, WWP North, Oceanside, Princeton High School, League of Creative Minds, Anglo-Chinese School, Moorestown Friends School) at a relatively mid-sized conference, the limited number of awards was not consolidated in three of four schools, but instead was spread through many. Consequently, Best Large Delegation went to a school (which brought 36 people) that won a total of 4 bests, 3 outstandings, 3 honorables, and 1 best position paper (hardly a dominating performance). The schools that won Best Large at HMUN, ILMUNC, and NAIMUN won more awards with less people at those conferences.

          One other telling thing to look at is the combined performances of teams that did not even win a delegation award at PMUNC later in the year. They include:

          Best Small at NAIMUN
          Outstanding Large at ILMUNC
          3rd place at ILMUNC
          Best Large at JHUMUNC
          Best Small at WAMUNC
          3rd place at HMUN
          2nd place at WAMUNC
          Best Small at CMUNCE

  • Anonymous

    I’d have to completely agree with David; PMUNC was much more competitive than ILMUNC, and HMUN for sure.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

      Our formula takes into account number of award winning teams and the awards distribution.

      HMUN, ILMUNC, and PMUNC all had around 15-20 top-100 teams, but HMUN and ILMUNC had many more schools (50+) with individual award winners than PMUNC. We translated this as the quality of delegates was higher from top to bottom in the committee, and that many schools besides the powerhouses brought their best delegates. Given that these conferences gave out roughly the same number of awards per committee, it also meant it was more difficult percentage-wise to win something at HMUN and ILMUNC (almost 3x the size of PMUNC).

      We realize every delegate’s experience is different in each committee and it’s possible your experience at PMUNC was more competitive than either HMUN or ILMUNC (you couldn’t have possibly attended both), particularly because the committee sizes were smaller at PMUNC which meant the competition felt more concentrated.

      • Anonymous

        First of all, thank you for the clarification. My opinions only reflect the experiences of my school, and surrounding schools, so I’m sure you have a far more impartial outlook.

        “HMUN, ILMUNC, and PMUNC all had around 15-20 top-100 teams, but HMUN and ILMUNC had many more schools (50+) with individual award winners than PMUNC. ”

        Couldn’t this also mean that it was far more difficult to win an award at PMUNC? I would imagine, that the powerhouse schools took a majority of their best delegates which could translate to more awards won by a single single, fewer awards won by other schools, and overall a greater difficulty level.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2505945 Kevin Felix Chan

          Hi LGMUN,

          Yeah there were two interpretations that we could’ve made when several schools take home the majority the awards. It could’ve been a) the schools were that good that they just dominated the competition or b) the other schools in attendance weren’t that good to begin with which made it easy for the power schools to win. It’s difficult to tell if it’s the former even by looking at statistics. That’s why we included 4 conference scores in the rankings to get a more accurate picture of the team across the season. But either way — dominating the awards or just winning many awards at a conference with many other award winners — it’s going to be interpreted as the conference being competitive and it’s going to bump up the teams with the most award-winners.

  • Anonymous

    What about George Washington University’s WAMUNC? I dont really see why thats not listed as a competitive, large or even regional conference.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1368031882 Colin Mark

      It’s listed as a heavily-weighted Large.

      • Anonymous

        Was that just updated? I didnt see that at first. Thanks anyway!

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  • Dali

    Where would Northwestern NUMUN be ranked?

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