The Alliance for Student Activities is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the value of student activities. Through printed materials, videos, and live presentations, the Alliance provides compelling information about the importance of student activities in increasing standardized test scores, lowering the dropout rate, and improving social and emotional outcomes.
WHILE MANY EDUCATORS ACKNOWLEDGE THE VALUE of extracurricular, cocurricular, and after-school activities in helping students thrive, securing sustainable funding for these programs can be a daunting task. Although the cost for a viable activities program in most districts is less than three percent of the overall budget, it can be difficult to claim these dollars when finances are already stretched to the limit. But for stakeholders who believe in their programs and are willing to invest elbow grease and advocacy, funding is available, obtainable, and worth the effort.
THE EVIDENCE IS TOO IMPORTANT TO IGNORE. Student activities offer an affordable, common-sense strategy for keeping kids in school and helping them to thrive. So how can educators ensure that all students are engaged, especially those who are at risk of slipping through the cracks? An easy-to-use web-based application from the Alliance for Student Activities and Software 4 Schools is providing the answers. With ENGAGE, educators can efficiently map activity participation, measure performance, and build a community that offers nurturing connections for all students.
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE. Many times, it brings a welcome shift in scenery and new opportunities for growth. But change can also feed anxiety and fear. For young people transitioning from the familiar territory of middle school to unchartered high school terrain, change can be overwhelming, even debilitating. A quality freshman transition program that utilizes peer mentors and extends an early invitation for activities involvement is a necessity in helping students successfully navigate the journey into high school. And the time to start planning for next year’s new students is now.
By Kathleen Wilson Shryock
FOR EDUCATORS AND STUDENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are quickly becoming a fact of life. Currently, forty-four states have voluntarily adopted the standards. Unfortunately, previous mandates that required educators to teach to the test at the expense of holistic student development have caused some stakeholders to view the new standards with suspicion. But for many teachers who are currently incorporating CCSS, the Common Core provides a refreshing, realistic framework for preparing students for success after high school. And because these standards focus on critical-thinking skills in addition to academics, the student activities arena offers valuable opportunities for students to practice CCSS-related applications.
by Kathleen Wilson Shryock
OUR SOCIETY IS ON THE MOVE. Blink-of-an-eye advances in technology, changes in skill requirements, and evolving expectations from recruiters can make it difficult for today’s high school students to transition into college or career. With these advancements giving rise to new challenges and opportunities, many agree that an education based solely on academics is not enough. Instead, students need to develop the skills that will help them connect classroom learning with real-world applications.
EACH OF THE COMPONENTS in Search Institute’s equation for human thriving becomes available to students when they get involved in a school-sponsored, adult-supervised, student-driven activity. It doesn’t matter whether it happens through athletics, student government, or something as unconventional as a game club. The combination of connecting a student’s spark to adult mentoring and opportunity drives performance as well as the development of social and emotional skills.
TERRI WOOD IS PASSIONATE about student activities. As the activities adviser at Canyon Hills Junior High School in Chino Hills, CA, she has witnessed the benefits of activities in keeping kids connected to their school and in creating a positive climate. So when the stipends for all junior high activities directors were eliminated from her district’s budget in 2010, Wood remained committed to providing her students with valuable programs.
You’ve done the math. You’ve heard the message. You know about the abundance of credible evidence indicating that adolescents who participate in student activities achieve higher test scores, make better choices, and are more likely to be successful in college and community. But did you know that the research also points to a disturbing trend? Too few students are participating in student activities, and of those who do sign up, many are members in name only. So what can you do to ensure that students are actively engaged?