Since our founding in 2005, the Boston Debate League (BDL) has served thousands of students in public schools across Boston through our three anchor programs, After-School Debate, Debate-Inspired Classrooms, and now, Resolved. Each initiative creates inclusive learning communities that support all participants in achieving the transformative, lifelong benefits of debate, including developing academic abilities, confidence, leadership, and other 21st century skills.
A recent study (Interscholastic Policy Debate Promotes Critical Thinking and College-going: Evidence From Boston Public Schools) conducted by Beth Schueler from the University of Virginia and Katherine Larned from Harvard University, associates student participation in BDL’s After School Debate program with improvements in English Language Arts (ELA) achievement and increases in the likelihood that students graduate from high school and enroll in postsecondary education. The study drew upon data from the Boston Debate League (BDL), Boston Public Schools (BPS), and the National Student Clearinghouse, focusing on students enrolled in BPS from the 2007–2008 to 2017–2018 school years. The study encompassed a cohort of 3,515 students who participated in the Boston Debate League during this period.
This study affirms the profound impact of BDL’s After School Debate program, highlighting how debate leads to significant academic improvement and achievement.