The Middle School Public Debate Program is an educational debate outreach initiative of Claremont McKenna College, one of the world's leading institutions of higher education. We partner with schools and institutions including the English-Speaking Union and Tulane University to provide world-class debate training for more than 40,000 students in class and contest debating across the United States and the world.


Program Elements:

Developmentally Appropriate - A debate format and competition process designed with middle school teachers for middle school students.

Backwards Design - Created with the specific academic and socio-emotional needs of young adolescents in mind.

Affordable and Accessible - Schools organize into low-cost leagues for rigorous local competition.

Teacher Led - Leagues are organized and led by teachers with the support of local and national volunteer staff.

Textbook Supported - In addition to free online resources, teachers and students can go in-depth to explore complex issues.

Standards Aligned - Materials and practices designed to fit current reading, speaking and listening standards.

Open Participation - Students may participate regardless of school type or location across grades 5-8.

Quality Control - Tournaments follow standardized procedures, including judge training and certification.


How We Debate:

Three Person Teams - Based on research support for three person working groups in the middle grades.

Professional Training - Students deliver informed extemporaneous speeches based on their own research.

Rigorous Subjects - Topics range from accessible to difficult, so that teachers scaffold learning in preparation.

Rotating Topics - Students research both sides of up to 35 topics per year, debating each one in competition.

Note Taking - Students and judges take detailed notes during debates, as the content of debates determines their outcome.

Dynamic Format - Debates include interactive elements to ensure students are engaged throughout.