Why Debate

St. Louis Urban Debate League addresses three main areas of concern for metro St. Louis youth: 1) Academic Achievement, 2) Graduation Rate, and 3) College Readiness. 

Longitudinal research conducted by Briana Mezuk, PhD Virginia Commonwealth University, and Susannah Anderson, MPH Tulane University finds there is a significant difference in academic achievement, graduation rate, and college readiness when measuring debaters vs. their non-debate peers. While debate increases reading, writing, and communication skills; it also fosters critical thinking, active listening, independent learning, research and other key academic and life skills essential for student achievement.

Over time, students involved in debate transfer and apply their debate skills in core subject areas including Language Arts, Science, and Mathematics. This success translates into higher school attendance, improved test scores, and an overall increase in graduation and college placement rates.

Mezuk and Anderson conclude the following:

  • Debaters, vs. Non-Debate Peers, are 85% more likely to graduate high school
  • Debaters who graduate high school are 63% more likely to matriculate to any college vs. non-debater peers, due to better performance on the ACT
  • Debaters who graduate from high school are 89% more likely to matriculate to a 4-year institution

Among students who matriculate to college, debaters are 80% more likely to graduate with a college degree!

Additional Benefits of Urban Debate

Debate transfers into all academic areas and…

  • Fosters critical thinking, research, problem-solving, verbal and non-verbal communication skills essential for academic achievement and success beyond the classroom.
  • Develops students understanding of government and politics, and empowers them to become active participants in their schools, homes, and communities.
  • Empowers students to find their voice and use it to generate positive outcomes in their immediate environment and society.
  • Prepares students to be successful within rigorous, higher education institutions and, ultimately, to become productive members and leaders of the workforce.