To affirm the importance of student activities and programs as a critical component of a student’s education and to provide recommendations for their successful implementation in schools
Beyond the standard curriculum of required and elective courses (e.g., career and technical student organizations, academic clubs, clubs for the visual/performing arts), schools enhance student learning and development by offering a range of student activities. Activities can be classified into four distinct categories:
- Direct extensions of required or elective courses (e.g., science club, math club, dance club, etc.), including opportunities to participate in student recognition programs (e.g., National Honor Society, Quill and Scroll, Spanish Honor Society, Tri-M Honor Society).
- Clubs or activities that are expressions of student interest that may be interdisciplinary in nature or not have a direct curricular link (e.g., popular music club, skateboarding club).
- Student council or student government that serve as opportunities for students to engage in the democratic process and have a voice in the life of the school to the extent allowable by law, policy, or tradition.
- Interscholastic and intramural athletics that provide students opportunities for development through sport (e.g., football, track, tennis, cheerleading, etc.).
Research suggests that participation in student activities is associated with higher test scores, increased GPA, enhanced civic skills, better future job prospects, lower drop-out rates, and lower incidence of adverse behaviors.
NASSP Guiding Principles
- Middle level and high schools provide for social as well as academic needs. Student activities are integral to an education, providing opportunities for all students to support and extend academic learning.
- Student activities are educational in nature and should be considered as part of the school's core mission.
- Student activities support the goal of teaching students to be responsible and give them opportunities that develop character, critical thinking, and problem-solving, and leadership skills.
- Research has shown a strong relationship between participation in student activities and academic achievement.
- Membership in national and state student activities adds value to programs sponsored at the local level by providing training, unique opportunities for networking, and additional recognition for those involved.
- NASSP’s Breaking Ranks framework for middle level and high school reform affirms the importance of student leadership and personalization as critical strategies to engage students in their own education.
Recommendations for Local and State Policymakers
- Recognize all activities approved by a middle level or high school for their contributions to the school's overall goals for young people.
- Encourage schools to engage as many students as possible in student activities and offer sufficient variety to appeal to a wide range of student interests.
- Encourage administrators, educators, student activity advisers, and the general public to use the term student activities instead of extracurricular activities. Student handbooks, school documents, and other communication should reflect this more current and accurate terminology.
- Ensure that activities are age-appropriate; nondiscriminatory; well planned, organized, and implemented; supervised by professional staff; and evaluated on a regular basis.
- Ensure that participation in events sponsored by state and national organizations for youth be subject to identifiable minimum standards for the quality of the program, its content, and its practices regarding participant supervision and safety.
- Ensure that staff directing student activities receive professional development in the area of responsibility and appropriate compensation for the work provided while fulfilling this supervisory duty.
- Avoid establishing a hierarchy of student activities that leads to funding competition.
Feldman, A. F., &Matjasko, J. L. (2005). The role of school-based activities in adolescent development: A comprehensive review and future direction. Review of Educational Research, 75(2).
Klesse, E. J. (1994). The third curriculum II: Student activities. Reston, VA: National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Klesse, E. J. (2004). Student activities in today's schools: Essential learning for all youth. Lanham, MD: Rowman &Littlefield.
Shelly, B. (2009, January). Jump, shake your booty: The civic training of student council. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association. New Orleans, LA. Retrieved February 9, 2009, from www.allacademic.com/meta/p283789_index.html
Adopted November 9, 2002
Revised May 9, 2009