Star Awards FAQ

I’m not sure what category to enter my piece? If you can’t decide on what category to enter your work, contact Janet Crock in the state office ( When she selects a category for your entry, she will notify the judge of this decision. Also, make a comment on your entry stating that you were told to enter your work in that category by Janet Crock. The judge will honor that decision and not move your entry to a different category. If you choose a category on your own and the judge thinks it fits a different category, the judge may move the entry to a different category.

May I enter more than once in the same category? You may enter as many different pieces as you wish in the same category. Each entry will be assessed a separate entry fee. The only exceptions to this rule are newsletters and magazines where multiple issues may be entered together and judged as one entry.

May I enter the same piece in several categories? If the entry meets the criteria for more than one category, then yes, you may enter it in different categories. The exception to this rule is in the writing categories. You may not submit the same written article in more than one writing category.

May I enter a piece that I entered last year? Normally no, unless you have made significant changes to the work. The rules state that the work must be produced and used by an educational institution (district, association, foundation, university, education service center, etc.) between July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023. If you produced, used and entered it in the 2022 Star Awards, it would not qualify under this rule. But if the work could not be evaluated because it was not completed during that time frame, for example a bond election, event, etc., then it was not eligible last year. You may enter it now after you have evaluated its success. Calendars are another exception since they are often created before they are used. Also, any work that earned a Best of Category the previous year may not be entered the following year.

I have an entry that doesn’t fit any category. What should I do? If your work truly does not fit any category, then it cannot be entered this year. But please, contact Janet Crock, and put in a request to consider a new category for next year’s Star Awards. Each year Star Award Review Committees are formed and they will consider your request.

Who are the judges? Star Award judge’s names are always kept secret. They are communication professionals with credentials and experience in many fields. Judges are told that if they have worked with a person or organization whose work they are asked to judge, they must recuse themselves and the entry will be reassigned to a different judge.

What proof of copyright do I need? For now, you only need to check a box that says you followed the copyright laws. But if your entry uses copyrighted artwork or music, even in the background, you should be proactive and prove that you have permission to use this materials in the information that you provide with the entry. If a judge looks at your work and questions your copyright statement, the state office will ask for more documentation. If you cannot provide it, the entry will be disqualified. Remember that most of the laws that allow use by schools stipulate that it is for classroom use only. Once you enter it in Star Awards where it will be seen by others to earn awards, you are no longer covered by those protections. Using copyrighted music in your videos is a violation unless you have permission or have paid the licensing fee.

What are my chances of winning an award? Since most people enter their best work, most entries win some award – Gold, Silver and Bronze Stars. But only one Best of Category is awarded in each category division. Since the number of entries per category and/or division varies each year, there is no way to predict your odds on winning a Best of Category award. As for the Crystal and Platinum Awards, only one is awarded per category. But the judges may award as many Certificates of Merit for other entries as they wish.

I just started working for my district. May I enter work my predecessor did before I started? Technically the work that someone does for an organization while employed by them is owned by that organization. So, you should ask your supervisor/superintendent if they are comfortable with you entering work that you actually did not create. You should also take into account if your predecessor is still a TSPRA member. They may not think it is ethical for you to take credit for their work.

People who are not TSPRA members worked on my entry. Why can’t they be listed on the entry and awards? Star Awards is a way to recognize the work of TSPRA members and only member names may go on the award. However if you work in a district/organization with three or more members you may have the award listed as a department such as AISD Communications, DISD TV, GISD Print Shop, etc. Names of nonmembers will be removed if listed on an entry. After the awards are announced you may purchase duplicate/custom award certificates that may have any names you want on them. These can be ordered for your printers and other nonmembers.

Last year, the judge did not judge my entry. Why? This can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common one is that you did not upload the document into the correct field or that your link did not work. Sometimes the criteria states the file must be a PDF but you put a link to a Google Doc. We try to catch these errors in advance, but sometimes we don’t. You must check your entries to see that everything is there and in the right place and format before you hit the final submit link.

I looked at the online gallery and I think my work was better than the entry that won Best of Category. The judges first score your entry based only on the criteria and not in comparison to other entries. These scores are objective, not based on personal preferences or perspective. But when the judge selects the Best of Category or Crystal/Platinum winners, they can base their choice on many things including their personal preferences or perspectives and their decision is subjective. Often it is something that the entrant wrote in their response to the questions that can sway a judge’s choice. So be sure to write up good answers to the questions especially the question about did the entry meet its stated objectives? Tell the judge your goals and include statistics if necessary. The judge sees many excellent entries and they all get top scores. But there will be one small thing that tips things in favor of the winner.

Why are some categories dropped? In order to produce the awards and pay judges, each category and division needs about three to four entries to cover costs. If a category does not receive the minimum number needed for several years, a Star Award Review Committee makes a recommendation to drop the category.

Posted: 2-26-23