A Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation study examined high school dropouts through a series of focus groups involving young people in 25 different locations in the U.S. The study found that, of those students who dropped out of high school, 47% said they were bored in class, 69% were not motivated to work hard, 66% would have worked harder if more had been demanded of them, and 88% had passing grades when they dropped out (Bridgeland). Participation in debate in an urban setting, however, provides “meaningful achievement in college-readiness and the likelihood of graduating high school” and results in higher grade points and a significant increase in the high school graduation rate, when compared with non-debaters (Mezuk). One study found that 90% of debaters go on to earn at least one collegiate degree (Colbert & Biggers).
Bridgeland, John M., “The Silent Epidemic—Perspectives of High School Dropouts,” A Report by Civic Enterprises in Association with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (March 2006). https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/documents/thesilentepidemic3-06final.pdf
Mezuk, Briana, et al, “Impact of Participating in a Policy Debate Program on Academic Achievement: Evidence from the Chicago Debate League” (2011). http://urbandebate.org/Portals/0/Impact%20of%20Participatging%20in%20Policy%20Debate.pdf?ver=2016-12-19-181916-090
Colbert & Biggers, “Why Should We Support Debate?” Journal of the American Forensic Ass’n, (Spring 1985)