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.
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?