Is Cutting Extracurriuculars a Bad Approach to Belt-Tightening?

“With school districts struggling to keep their noses above choppy budget waters and voters howling about taxes, should schools really be funding ping-pong and trading-card clubs? Swim teams, swing dancing, moot court, powder-puff football?”

So asks June Kronholz in a new article on extracurriculars for Education Next.  The answer: as it turns out, maybe they should.

“There’s not a straight line between the crochet club and the Ivy League. But a growing body of research says there is a link between afterschool activities and graduating from high school, going to college, and becoming a responsible citizen,” she writes.

But did kids who joined afterschool activities become good students, or did good students join afterschool activities? June concludes,

As with a lot of social science research, the findings about extracurriculars aren’t always consistent or conclusive: You can’t randomly assign kids to soccer, after all. But some researchers insist there is a cause-effect relationship between activities and academic success, not just the other way around.

The article, “Academic Value of Non-Academics: The case for keeping extracurriculars,” will appear in the Winter 2012 issue of Ed Next and is now available online.

A press release summarizing the article appears here.

– Education Next

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