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Great City Schools

Starting a District Debate Initiative

The NSDA partners with school districts interested in implementing district-wide debate programs to help create and define a culture of academic success through competition. Watch the video at right to see why and how Broward County, Florida, the sixth largest school district in the country, implemented speech and debate in all its middle and high schools.

The NSDA provides resources and guidance to help school districts willing to invest in speech and debate infrastructure build self-sustaining programs. This includes advice on getting started, setting up programs during and/or after school, finding coaches, and tournament support. NSDA membership for students and coaches provides the learning tools they need to get started and motivation to keep going through honor society points and participation.

Your Students

With access to NSDA membership, your students will:


    • Develop the communication skills employers value
    • Learn to analyze problems, discuss and debate them civilly, and work together to create solutions
    • Earn local, state, and national recognition for achievement
    • Build their skills with access to helpful training tools
    • Compete to attend the National Tournament, the pinnacle of public speaking, where 54 national champions are crowned.

Your School

Administrators report the following impacts from NSDA membership:


    • Improved classroom performance
    • Higher student confidence and self esteem
    • Increased attendance rates
    • Decreased negative student behavior
    • Increased school pride
    • Increased engagement in the classroom
    • Higher test scores
    • New recognition opportunities

The Benefits of Speech and Debate


Speech and debate changes lives. From building confidence, improving communication, and increasing critical thinking skills to better preparing students for college, speech and debate activities provide life skills vital to a young person’s success in the future.

Debaters and Life After Graduation Chart that illustrates 15% are top ranking corporate executives. 30% are university educators. 10% work in the government. 90% have one graduate degree
Debate and Academic Performance chart that illustrates there is a 36% increase in reading test scores. 31% increase in regular attendance. 15% higher self-esteem. 100% increased interest in their classes. 87% increase in analytical skills...

We wanted to create more opportunities for our students. What we ended up doing was impacting our school culture in a variety of positive ways … Those benefits include scholarship dollars for your students, opportunities to give students a place to belong and “plug in,” not to mention the possibility of outstanding recognition for your school and community.

Austin Brown

2017 National Speech & Debate Association Principal of the Year Principal, Madison Central High School, Mississippi

Administrator Testimonials

[Speech and debate] helps students come to terms with their identity and teaches empathy. At an age when bullying is so common, speech and debate celebrates kids who often fall through the cracks in more traditional settings. Specifically, girls are encouraged to be smart and argumentative as much as boys, in whom strong emotional awareness and expressiveness are celebrated.
Robyn Kaiyal

Associate Headmaster for Academic Affairs, NSU University School Florida

Speech and debate participants do better academically across the board. They become engaged, active participants in their education and in their community. Our school has seen great improvements in student culture and spirit since we started our program, and I would highly recommend joining the NSDA to any administrator looking to make a positive impact on school culture and academic performance.
Errol A. Evans

2018 NSDA Middle School Administrator of the Year