After a highly successful pilot project in the spring of 2012, the CDL will launch the nation’s first qualitative assessment of urban debaters’ learning, connecting urban debate more closely to academic learning objectives. The Qualitative Assessment Project (QAP) assesses students’ performance against the Debater Development Benchmarks. These benchmarks, created by the CDC and introduced in the 2010-11 school year, identify specific skills and knowledge debaters should acquire in each year and at each level of debate.

The CDC is using the Debater Development Benchmarks to design its professional development for coaches and its student trainings. Coaches are being encouraged to use the Debater Development Benchmarks to guide their teaching and coaching. This year, the QAP will assess CDL debaters in the fall and the spring on a set of 64 academic debate benchmarks (e.g., organization of arguments, close analysis of textual evidence, effective articulation of questions in cross-examination) in order to give coaches a clearer understanding of how much their debaters are learning as academic debaters and where they should focus their coaching and instruction.