In partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education and the Office for Education Policy at the University of Arkansas, the Arkansas Activities Association has released a study relating students success in the classroom to their participation in extracurricular activities. To conduct the study, students from the graduating class of 2018 identified by school personnel as participating in AAA activities, were compared with students who were not identified as participating in AAA activities. Participating students were compared with non-participating students on school attendance, disciplinary actions, average GPA, and graduation rate. In addition, the 11th grade ACT scores of those students who participated were compared with those students who did not participate.
1. What percentage of students in the class of 2018 participated in AAA activities?
• School personnel identified 46% of students as participating in AAA activities.
• Participation rates were similar across gender, with 47% of females and 46% of males participating in AAA activities.
• Over half of white students participated (52%), compared to 36% of Black students and 32% of Hispanic students.
• Students who were identified by school personnel as participating in the Federal Free/ Reduced Lunch program (FRL), which is based on low household income, were less likely to participate in AAA than their non-FRL peers: 41% of FRL students participated compared to 52% of non-FRL students.
2. Did attendance rates differ between AAA participants and non-AAA participating students?
• Yes, AAA participating students were less likely to miss school: AAA students attended 95% of the school days during their senior year, while non-AAA students attended 92%
3. Did AAA participants perform better on the ACT than non-AAA participating students?
• Yes, AAA participating students scored higher on their 11th grade ACT. AAA students received an ACT Composite score of 19.95, while non-AAA students received an ACT Composite score of 17.98.
4. Did GPA differ between AAA participants and non-AAA participating students?
• Yes, on average AAA participating students received higher GPAs during their senior year. AAA students received an average GPA of 3.32, compared to the non-AAA student GPA of 2.97.
5. Did disciplinary rates differ between AAA participants and non-AAA participating students?
• Yes, AAA participating students were less likely to be involved in disciplinary incidents: AAA students were involved in disciplinary incidents at a rate of 31.54 disciplinary actions per 100 students, compared to the non-AAA student rate of 38.34.
6. Did graduation rates differ between AAA participants and non-AAA participating students?
• Yes, AAA participating students were more likely to graduate: AAA students graduated at a rate of 99% compared to the non-AAA student rate of 89%.
It is important to note that students who participate in AAA activities are more likely to be economically advantaged than students who do not participate in AAA activities. Only 47% of AAA students were eligible for FRL, compared to 58% of non-AAA students. More advantaged students demonstrate higher rates of school attendance, are less likely to be involved in disciplinary incidents at school, demonstrate higher academic outcomes as measured by GPA and ACT scores, and are more likely to graduate than their more disadvantaged peers.
Multivariate analyses were conducted to determine if AAA participation continued to be positively associated with the outcomes once student demographic characteristics (FRL status, gender, and race) were taken into account. Statistically significant positive effects were found for AAA participation with regard to GPA (+0.30 points), graduation (10 percent more likely to graduate), attendance (+12 more days per year) and discipline (10 percent fewer incidents).
All data for these analyses was provided by the Arkansas Department of Education.