Testimonials and Research Supporting Speech & Debate
Studies by Yale and Truman State University have shown that participation dramatically boosts critical thining skills and that debaters score better on the SAT, ACT, and State accountability assessments.
A Colbert and Biggers study found that former Speech and Debate students "are disproprtionately likely to become leaders."
The Wall Street Journal found that being named captain of their debate team "improved an applicant's chances (for college) by more than 60% compared with the rest of the pool." For comparison, the Journal found that being a newspaper reporter boosted chances by 3%, a sports team captainship boosted it by 5%, and being named class president resulted in a 5% boost.
Studies have proven that students involved in either speech or debate scored "significantly higher on state administered writing tests" and "significantly higher on a nationally normed reading test" (Peters 2009).
According to the Wall Street Journal: State and national award winners have a 22% to 30% higher acceptance rate at top tier colleges.
An informal survey found 99% of competitive forensic students intended to attend college (NSDA)
Documented improvement in grades following performance (Fine, 1999; Winkler, 2008)
“The best writing course imaginable is high school debate.”
- J.E. Carr Fulbright Scholar at the London School of Economics
Nearly two out of three members of the 104th Congress (1996-1997) were former debaters
Vaughn and Winner’s (2000) 12 year study found that the highest SAT scores were achieved by “students taking acting/play production courses…” the Verbal and Mathematics score relationships was even more evident concluding that participation in acting lead to “higher test scores”
A year long study found that urban public schools that participated in debate improved reading scores by 25% more than their counterparts (Open Society Institute, 2004)
How much time do you have? I can’t possibly do this subject justice in this forum, but a short answer is that today I give presentations for departments across the University of Chicago weekly and they’re my favorite part of my job and the reason I do so well. Speech gave me the confidence to speak up for what I want both professionally and personally. Also, on a personal level, it gave me my best friends (who I’m still in contact with 14 years later).
- Liz - Class of 2004Debate provided me with the necessary critical thinking skills that I use daily in trouble-shooting my clients' issues. My experiences at Chesterton also enabled me to stand-out early on in my career, and actively engage with people at all levels in the corporate ladder.- Jack - Class of 2012When I began as a freshmen member of the Debate team, I suffered from a stutter. It was a source of embarrassment in school and my personal life. Why would I want to get in front of a group of people every weekend and talk? I think it had to do with having Mr. Cavallo as my tee-ball coach. I knew he was the high school debate coach and was very successful. I wanted to be a part of that success. Through the coaching and support of Mr. C and the debate team, I was able to overcome this speech impediment and become a decent and confident public speaker. I've given speeches to audiences of hundreds in my work and even look forward to these opportunities. I also honed skills in research, intentional practice, reflection, and good sportsmanship. Losses at important events - districts, state, and nationals - were never moments to vilify the opponent, some of whom were my own teammates. These were moments to reflect on where I or my partner and I could have been better. It was a lesson in healthy but intense competition that I have found a way to channel into long distance running and board games in my adult years. As a professional and adult, there is hardly a day that I haven't used my skills to become the person that I am and hope to be. Debate gave me a purpose in high school and has given me a voice to this day.- David - Class of 2000My days on the speech team were definitely transformative for me as a person. In addition to the friendships made, I was exposed to a wider swath of literature (poetry, short stories, plays, etc) and current events than I would have otherwise. I learned deeper critical thinking and writing skills when developing materials for performance. I explored emotions that were just coming to the surface of my teenaged self. I gained confidence, learned poise (still working on that), how to give a cogent answer to a question posed by an adult/figure of authority (still working on that, too). And that’s all in addition to the public speaking skills I learned while on the Speech team. It truly was an exceptional time in my life, with many positive influences on my university, professional and personal life. I’ll always carry my happy memories from my days on the speech team.- Anna - Class of 1993