Extracurricular Activities Yield Benefits

Payson Unified School District Office

Payson Unified School District Office Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Payson schools have forced most extracurricular programs to charge fees and seek donations to cover their own costs. However, a growing body of research demonstrates that such programs often yield far greater academic gains than many traditional classroom activities.

Among the recent findings:

• Students who do not participate in extracurricular activities are 50 percent more likely to use drugs and 37 percent more likely to get pregnant than students who spend 1-4 hours a week in after-school activities. (United States Department of Education)

• Students who participate in arts programs are four times more likely to win awards for attendance, academic achievement and science fairs than those who don’t. (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices)

• Students who participate in vigorous sports had 10 percent higher grades in math, English, science and social studies. (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise)

• Music students had 11 percent higher SAT scores. Music performance students scored 57 points higher in verbal areas and 41 points higher in math. (College Entrance Examination Board)

• Extracurricular activities boosted academic achievement in high school and college entrance exam scores, especially for children from low-income families. (Howard T. Everson and Roger E. Millsap, writing for the College Entrance Examination Board)

• Former high school athletes in their 20s were more likely to volunteer, register to vote, feel comfortable speaking in public and watch the news. (Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement)

• Extracurricular activity participation is linked to lower rates of dropping out of school, greater civic involvement and higher levels of academic achievement. (the Journal of Adolescent Research)

• Student athletes are significantly less likely to use cocaine and psychedelics. (Boston University)

• A national survey of high school students concluded students participating in organized sports were 25 percent less likely to be current cigarette smokers. (American Journal of Health Behavior)

• Students who spend no time in extracurricular activities are 49 percent more likely to use drugs and 37 percent more likely to become teen parents than those who spend one to four hours per week in extracurricular activities. (US Department of Education)

• A North Carolina found the following differences when comparing athletes versus non-athletes: GPA: 2.98 vs. 2.14. Missed school days: 6.3 vs. 11.9. Discipline referrals: 33 percent vs. 42 percent. Dropout rate: Half a percent vs. 10 percent. (Gary Overton, School of Education, East Carolina University)

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