What is the Academic Decathlon?
Since 1981, the Solano County Office of Education has sponsored the Academic Decathlon for local public and private high school students to compete as individuals and as a team in a series of academic tests and demonstrations. In 2006, Solano County expanded its services to include surrounding high schools in Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma and Yolo counties. The Academic Decathlon was officially established in 1968 by Robert Peterson, Ed.D., former County Superintendent of Schools in Orange County and has served as the model for all prestigious Academic Decathlon events that now exist at the state and national levels.
Like its ancient Greek counterpart, Academic Decathlon is a ten event contest where A, B, and C - level high school students work as teams to compete in the areas of language and literature, science, mathematics, social science, economics, art, music, essay, interview, and speech. Each team aspires to compete at the state or national level. The purpose of Academic Decathlon is to develop and provide academic programming, curriculum, and assessment to promote learning and academic excellence. Students of all achievement levels participate in a variety of rigorous and challenging academic events while building teamwork and a competitive spirit.
How Does Academic Decathlon Work?
Academic Decathlon teams consist of students known as Decathletes. Each team requires Honor Decathletes (GPA 3.75-4.0), Scholastic Decathletes (GPA 3.0-3.74), and Varsity Decathletes (GPA 0.0-2.99). Each Academic Decathlon team spends months working together in preparation for a rigorous and demanding competition season against other local area schools.
All decathletes participate by taking 30-minute multiple-choice tests in the subject areas of art, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, and social science. Each area, with the exception of mathematics, is based on an annual theme set by the United States Academic Decathlon. In addition, each Decathlete is required to perform a planned 4-minute speech on a topic of their choice, a 2-minute impromptu speech, a 7-minute interview (similar to a job interview), and to write an essay within a 50-minute period. The competition culminates with an exciting Super Quiz relay, a team event where parents and classmates cheer from the sidelines, much like a sporting event.
After scores for all test, interview and speech, essay, and Super Quiz scores are cumulated, individual and team award medals are presented at an awards ceremony. The overall winning team from each participating county is invited to participate in the statewide California Academic Decathlon. Based on overall state scores, additional teams may be invited to represent their county as "wild card" teams.