“Competitive urban debate is almost uniquely suited to building what’s been called the “Four C’s” of 21st century skills—critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity…By engaging students in real, complex public policy questions, competitive debate is nurturing a new generation of engaged, committed citizens.”
Debate gives students the skills they need to succeed.
Debaters read and synthesize sophisticated materials on complex public policy issues. In a debate tournament, students must link evidence from research to every one of their arguments. These skills—high-level reading, critical thinking, and evidence-based argumentation—are closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards and are recognized as critical to students’ college and career success.
Debate improves students’ academic performance and graduation rates.
Independent peer-reviewed and published studies demonstrate that participation in competitive debate leads to higher GPAs, higher graduation rates, and better college-readiness (based on ACT scores). Debaters in our league are 300% more likely to graduate high school, and 80% more likely to graduate college than their peers. This is true for students across the academic spectrum.
Debate is an engaging, student-centered activity.
Rather than imparting knowledge through lectures, coaches engage students in learning games and debate exercises. Coaches direct students in research activities, while students collaborate to build their knowledge of debate subtopics. This high-level engagement motivates students in our League to spend an average of 145 out-of-class hours on debate during the school year. Our highly engaged high school students spend an average of 400 hours per year on debate. This time commitment, along with the academic rigor of debate training, is uniquely effective in improving student outcomes.
Debate promotes college success.
The research proves that debate is a powerful strategy to prepare Chicago students for college. Our alumni tell us that debate introduced them to the possibility of college success, inspired them to go to college, and helped them get the scholarships they needed to access college.
Debate enhances students civic understanding and engagement.
Debate engages students in a deliberative, structured process of learning, critical thinking, and dialogue on important and complex public policy issues. Our students tell us that debate empowers them to voice their ideas and inspires them to learn more about the world. As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated, “Competitive debate is nurturing a new generation of engaged, committed citizens.”