Partnership for After School Education

Issue 110

November 01, 2015

Extracurricular Participation and Course Performance in the Middle Grades: A Study of Low-Income, Urban Youth

Activities outside the classroom – especially community engagement and sports – may help low-income, urban youth academically as they transition into middle school, according to a new NYU Steinhardt study. The researchers looked to a dataset of 625 low-income students from 14 New York City elementary schools, collected as part of the Adolescent Pathways Project. The students were surveyed in their final year of elementary school and first two years of middle school. The survey included a range of questions about students’ extracurricular activities, including the activity settings – school, community, religious, or athletic – and frequency of participation. Participating in extracurricular activities in the community, such as volunteering, was found to be the most highly associated with better academic performance. Athletic participation was also linked to better grades. The findings are published online in the American Journal of Community Psychology. The full report is available for a fee.