Extracurricular Activities

One of the many impacts that come with education inequity is school programs and activities getting cut due to inadequate funding. 

Produced by: James Kelly
Edited by: Dylan Ashcraft

Benefits of extracurricular activities

There is more to a school than the eight hour learning period that every student experiences. Extracurricular activities provide experiences that are voluntary for students to get involved in. Extracurricular activities developed in the United States in the 19th century. Literacy clubs, yearbooks, newspaper and athletics became outlets for students to grow and develop life skills outside of the classroom.

In a study conducted by Kimiko Fujita, it was found that students who participate in extracurricular activities perform better academically. About one in four students participate in extracurricular activities. In a study conducted by the United States Department of Education, it was found “that students who participate in extracurricular activities are three times more likely to have a grade point average of a 3.0 or higher. This is higher than students who did not participate in extracurricular activities.”

When students participate in extracurricular activities, they are learning essential life skills that will benefit them in their years beyond school. Developing skills like teamwork and leadership gives students the opportunity to experience more social opportunities, making new friends and meeting new people within their school setting. These activities allow students to explore their interests outside of the mandatory curriculum.

The United States Department of Education funds school’s extracurricular activities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, activity funds are unique to every school district and can compensate for activities like student council, drama club, marching bands and national honor societies. Students are involved in these organizations but also are involved in managing and directing the organization's activities. District activity funds that belong to the school district are used to fund its co-curricular and extracurricular activities and are allocated by the school district. All decisions made with this money must be approved by the school board.

These activities provide a major benefit to students but are often the first cut when it comes to funding and budget decisions. When funds are cut by the federal government or the state, it has an impact on students who benefit from these programs.

Some schools that are facing drastic budget cuts are now charging students to participate in these extracurricular activities. These “pay-to-play” schools charge flat fees for each sport a student plays, team fees and other costs. The average cost to participate in a sport was $381. According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll reported that one-third of lower-income students participated in sports, while more than half of higher-income students participated. A
“Pay-to-play” system leads to inequity based on income, meaning that students who cannot afford the fees cannot participate. 

These “pay-to-play” policies are regulated by each state, some guaranteeing the right to free public education and activities, while other states are allowed to authorize fees based on their legislation. These fees can be debilitating to a student’s athletic career and hinder them from the benefits of the transferable skills learned in a team setting. 

Extracurricular activities offer an experience of learning and growth outside of the classroom. When these programs are not funded or cut entirely, students who excel in these areas are not getting the education they deserve.

Written by: Sydney Lynch

Kelly V5 Extracirricular

Created by: James Kelly

What benefits do after school programs offer?

According to the Afterschool Alliance, “a 2006 meta-analysis synthesizing 35 out-of-school time (OST) after school program studies, conducted by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) with funding from the Department of Education, found that after school programs had positive and significant effects among students at risk of failure in reading or math.” By having students participate in after school programs they have more chances to learn and expand their knowledge. Students in after school programs not only expand their knowledge but they also advance their social skills. Whether the after school program is academically based or a sport/club students show improvement in their day to day lives. A study from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), “Programs with a strong intentional focus on improving social and personal skills were found to improve students’ self-esteem and self-confidence.” 

After school programs/activities give students a chance to be with their friends while staying out of trouble. According to SEDL, “The hours after school, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., offer opportunities for juvenile crime, sexual activity, and other risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use.” These programs give students a purpose and a controlled environment for them to have fun with their friends. These programs do not just help students stay out of trouble after school they help them stay on track during school hours as well. According to ASCD, studies have shown that those who attend high-quality programs improve academic performance and social competence. The student’s grades improve, more students complete their homework, test scores will begin to rise, fewer absences occur and students have a better sense of self.  

After school programs benefit students immensely. According to the Afterschool Alliance 11.3 million children in the United States go home alone and unsupervised. That is 1 in 5 children who go home to an unsupervised house. The average time they will spend time without adult supervision is 7.3 hours per week. Children need some sort of supervision after school to make sure they are learning in all areas of their day. After School programs are necessary to keep students involved with the community and their education. By attending an after school program students can receive help with their homework and stay involved with their classmates. Whether the after school activity is academic-based or sport/club based the students are becoming well-rounded people and it will help them in the future when they enter the workforce.

Written by: Ariana Yamaski

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