Kentanji Brown Jackson and Speech & Debate
“[Ketanji Brown Jackson] grew up to be a star student — elected mayor of her junior high school and president of her high school class, where she was a standout — she was a standout on the speech and debate team. And it was after a debate tournament that took place at Harvard when she was in high school that she believed she could one day be a student there. There were those who told her she shouldn’t set her sights too high, but she refused to accept limits others set for her. President Joe Biden
Related articles by Stefan Bauschard
The Value of Speech & Debate in the Middle School Years (with A. Rao)
This study adds to the limited literature base on extracurricular debate by using doubly robust inverse probability treatment weighting to estimate the average treatment effect for the treated of preadolescent debate participation on a variety of academic and engagement outcomes among a 10-year longitudinal sample of Baltimore City Public School System students. The effect of preadolescent Baltimore Urban Debate League participation for debaters was associated with increases in standardized test scores, a decreased likelihood of chronic absenteeism, and an increased likelihood of attending a selective entrance criteria high school. Although there is a mounting body of research that suggests participation in debate is associated with increases in positive outcomes for high school students, this research constitutes the first quantitative study to examine these relationships among elementary and middle school students. Policy implications for educational interventions that seek to attract low-income students of color in urban areas and influence their trajectories at earlier stages of student development are discussed.
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.
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.
2014-15 Urban Debate League MPS Evaluation (2015). Urban Debate League (UDL) is an out-of-school time activity that is integrated into the middle and high schools of Minneapolis Public Schools. A total of 438 students participated across six high schools and 13 middle schools within the district during the 2014-15 school year. Spanish and Somali debates were new to the program this year. A mixed methods approach, using growth modeling and conducting focus groups, was used to evaluate the impact of UDL on participating students’ academic success. The evaluation found that UDL has potential to be a positive addition to MPS schools out-of-school time offerings. The students who participated clearly benefited from doing so, both academically and in non-cognitive areas. Quantitative analysis suggests that participating students in UDL gained approximately 14% growth over the year, or 4.4 points above and beyond what they were expected to reach on the MCA Reading test. Students also showed increases in MCA Mathematics scores but this measure was connected to program participation dosage; for example, a student who participated in six rounds of UDL had a math score that was 1 point higher, on average, than a similar student who did not participate in UDL. Additionally, students had small increases in percent attendance but it was also connected to program participation dosage; for example, a student who participated in six rounds of UDL attended 6% more days of school, on average, than a similar student who did not participate in UDL. Qualitative analysis implied that students enjoyed participating in debate and the opportunities it provides to expand their worldview and how they approach information while meeting new people and enhancing their academic skills. The challenge of competing in the tournaments also appealed to many students. There is clear evidence that students are increasing their opportunities for positive development because the potential number of meaningful relationships and contexts for growth to occur increases considerably from participation in a structured out-of-school time activity such as debate
The BUDL Effect: Examining Academic Achievement and Engagement Outcomes of Preadolescent Baltimore Urban Debate League Participants (2015). This study adds to the limited literature base on extracurricular debate by using doubly robust inverse probability treatment weighting to estimate the average treatment effect for the treated of preadolescent debate participation on a variety of academic and engagement outcomes among a 10-year longitudinal sample of Baltimore City Public School System students. The effect of preadolescent Baltimore Urban Debate League participation for debaters was associated with increases in standardized test scores, a decreased likelihood of chronic absenteeism, and an increased likelihood of attending a selective entrance criteria high school. Although there is a mounting body of research that suggests participation in debate is associated with increases in positive outcomes for high school students, this research constitutes the first quantitative study to examine these relationships among elementary and middle school students. Policy implications for educational interventions that seek to attract low-income students of color in urban areas and influence their trajectories at earlier stages of student development are discussed
Huston Urban Debate League Study. 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
Where Are They Now(?): Two Decades of Longitudinal Outcome Assessment Data Linking Positive Student, Graduate Student, Career and Life Trajectory Decisions to Participation in Intercollegiate Competitive Debate (2017)
Debating the evidence: an international review of current situation and perceptions (2011). An important learning point from this literature review is that the use of debate activities is not just confined to competitive debating and that equally prominent in the literature is classroom debate and the use of debate activities as a teaching tool. There is evidence for a link between debate activities in the classroom and improved subject knowledge, with the use of such activities as a teaching tool being associated with a greater depth of learning. Being isolated studies, these tend to have issues of replicability, although they indicate the presence rather than the absence of a link. This evidence is supported by a strong body of student perception data indicating that engaging in debate activities increases engagement in and motivation towards a subject, improves subject knowledge and helps students apply their learning to real-world situations.
Attorney J. Blake Johnson has forged a formidable career (2019)
Johnson: Honestly, the real passion was argument. I was a dedicated high school and college debater. That’s what I did in the Bay Area as well — I directed a nonprofit that builds debate teams in inner-city high schools.
Testimonials — College Admissions
The Value of Speech & Debate in the Middle School Years (with A. Rao)
Debate Organization Releases
Benefits of Debate National Association of Urban Debate Leagues
The Benefits of Debate Home School Association (2007)
New studies shows benefits of debate
News — Urban Debate
News — Benefits in Business
Former debaters were researchers for Al Gore’s new book[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]