Middle School Debate League

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The Middle School Debate League debuted in the 2014-15 school year as a pilot project in 3 Bay Area schools. The project turned out to be a resounding success, with middle school youth eager to participate in the following school year. The middle school program expanded to include 6 middle schools during the 2015-16 school year and will continue to grow into the 2016-17 school year and beyond.

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Why Middle School?

The middle school debate league allows us the valuable opportunity to bring students into our academic community before they begin high school, setting them on an earlier path to success. The transition from middle school into high school is an important hurdle on the path to high school graduation. In 2011, more than 17,000 California 8th grade students dropped out of school before entering high school. In addition, a 2009 study in Oakland found that the greatest number of high school students drop out in the 9th grade. Without intervention, under-served students, either drop out or enter high school unprepared and set up to struggle. BAUDL works to reach these students and engage them in the academic sport of debate prior to starting high school, promoting academic excellence and boosting confidence. By reaching these students early, we help them enter that crucial freshman year with pre-existing support network.

Why Public Forum Debate?

The middle school league participates in public forum debate, which offers specific benefits to our youth, especially our younger students. Public forum is an accessible model that allows students to develop their voice in a broader, more immediately comprehensible style compared to the more technical format of policy debate. Middle school teachers report high success with integrating public forum into the classroom. Students learning public forum debate benefit from increased exposure to topical research and current events, boosting their literacy, research skills, and civic engagement. Public forum debate tackles challenging issues in a way that teaches students to see both sides of the argument as they develop their abilities to think critically and advocate persuasively.

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