Academics added to NFHS Speech, Debate & Theatre Association

September 9, 2019 by Seth Polansky, AZPreps365

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (September 9, 2019) — As a way to offer services and resources to more students involved in high school activity programs, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has added academics to its national organization for speech, debate and theatre educators.

Formerly known as the NFHS Speech, Debate & Theatre Association, the professional association has been renamed the NFHS Speech, Debate, Theatre & Academics Association.

Currently, 14 NFHS-member state associations offer some type of academics program, which includes activities such as Scholar Bowl, spelling, geography, robotics, journalism, mathematics and science. States currently offering competition in these events include Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

The Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) has the most expansive academics program for high school students in the nation. The UIL’s offerings include such competition as computer science, copy editing, editorial writing, informative speaking, mathematics, news writing, persuasive speaking, robotics, science and social studies, among many others.

“It is our plan to offer more resources to states that already have academics programs, and to urge other states to consider adding these activities for student participation,” said James Weaver, NFHS director of performing arts and sports. 

The NFHS started its professional association for speech and debate coaches in 1986 with the formation of the National Federation Interscholastic Speech and Debate Association. The services were expanded to theatre educators in 2003 and the name was changed to the NFHS Speech, Debate &
Theatre Association.

The mission of the NFHS Speech, Debate, Theatre and Academics Association is to identify and meet the common needs of educators who participate in or sponsor high school education-based interscholastic activities. Members receive insurance coverage, including excess general liability, up to $2 million, and a subscription to the NFHS’ national magazine, High School Today. They also have access to online education courses through the NFHS Learning Center ( such as “Introduction to Adjudicating Speech and Debate” and “Understanding Copyright and Compliance.”  


About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,500 high schools and 12 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.9 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at

Bruce Howard, 317-972-6900
Director of Publications and Communications
National Federation of State High School Associations

Chris Boone, 317-972-6900
Assistant Director of Publications and Communications
National Federation of State High School Associations