Related articles by me
The Value of Speech & Debate in the Middle School Years (with A. Rao)
Participating in a policy debate program and academic achievement among at-risk adolescents in an urban public school district: 1997-2007 Journal of Adolescence (2012), Susannah Anderson and Briana Mezuk
In this review of data from the Chicago Debate League, 1997-2007, Susannah Anderson and Briana Mezuk conclude that participation in debate leads to higher graduation rates and achievement of ACT college readiness benchmarks, even for those students most at-risk of not completing high school.
- Among the highest risk students, 72% of debaters graduated as compared with 43% of non-debaters.
- The level of participation in debate (number of rounds debated) is a strong predictor of high school completion. Students who debate more, are more likely to graduate.
- All students who debated, including those at-risk, scored higher on the ACT and were more likely to achieve college readiness benchmarks in English, Reading and Science.
This study evaluates the relationship between participating in a policy debate program and academic achievement in the Chicago Public School (CPS) district from 1997 to 2006. Key findings showed that debaters were more likely to graduate, more likely to meet ACT college-readiness benchmarks, and had greater gains in cumulative grade point average (GPA) over the course of high school relative to comparable peers. This is the largest evaluation study of a debate program on achievement, and these findings suggest that debate programs may offer a means to extend learning time and promote engagement with scholastic materials in a manner that translates into academic performance.
Urban debate and high school educational outcomes for African American males: The case of the Chicago Debate League. By Briana Mezuk, PhD.
Abstract: This study examines whether participating in competitive policy debate influences high school completion, academic achievement, and college-readiness for African American male students. The analysis examines data from the Chicago Debate League over a 10-year period from 1997 to 2006. Debate participants were 70% more likely to graduate and three-times less likely to drop out as those who did not participate, even after accounting for 8th grade test scores and GPA. Debater participants were more likely to score at or above the ACT benchmarks for college-readiness in English and Reading, but not in Science or Mathematics, than those who did not participate. While peripheral participation in debate had little impact on academic outcomes, more intense involvement significantly influenced scholastic achievement for young African American students in this urban setting.
You can order a full print copy of the Journal of Negro Education Special Issue for the Summer 2009, Academic Success for School-age Black Males today. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Briana Mezuk or Dr. Eric Tucker.
The Houston Urban Debate League (HUDL) was established in 2008 by a group of former high school and college debaters. After being granted affiliate status with the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL), on March 13, 2008, the Houston Independent School District (HISD) Board of Education unanimously voted to serve as a co-sponsor of a citywide debate league. The HUDL is a 503(c)(3) charitable organization that, similar to other UDLs, enters into public-private partnerships to enhance the investment of HISD in debate activities by providing financial support, mentoring, communication, and facilities that will contribute to making policy debate a mainstay in all HISD schools.
Overall, the current evaluation resulted in three main findings: (a) higher performing students may be more likely to participate in competitive policy debate; (b) after accounting for this potential selection bias, HUDL participants were more likely to have higher attendance rates, higher core course grades, and fewer disciplinary incidents than those who did not participate in debate; (c) intensity of participation in debate activities has an influence on these associations, such that students who participated in more rounds of debate had higher attendance rates, higher core course grades, and fewer disciplinary actions than those students with only marginal round participation.
Bellon, J. (2000). A research-based justification for debate across the curriculum. Argumentation and Advocacy
The most important thing I learned in debate (2009)
Debate in College Admissions and Personal Development (2013)
Priten Shah: Debate’s Role in College Admissions and Personal Development (2013)
How debate helped me in college admissions (2017)
High school training helped in Supreme Court wins
Top Kentucky grads discuss the benefits of debate
Debate Organization Releases
Benefits of Debate National Association of Urban Debate Leagues
The Benefits of Debate Home School Association (2007)
Quite school? That’s not an option for this Dallas High Schooler
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