As we near the end of the 2015-16 school year, schools are beginning to reflect on their programming, including the after school and inclusion activities they employ to support the interests and needs of students. Currently, 75% of 5457 high school students and 78% of 9435 middle school students report in “Meaningful Participation” surveys there are activities at their schools they enjoy participating in. 67% of 554 high school students report staying after school to participate in organized school activities – sports, clubs, band etc., and 55% of middle school students report being a member of a club or organization at school.
The Harvard Family Research Project’s (HFRP) After School Programs in the 21st Century: Their Potential and What It Takes to Achieve It (Little, Wimer, & Weiss, 2008), summarizes 10 years of research on afterschool programs and implications for the future. The authors emphasize that the data regarding after school activities “repeatedly underscores the impact of supporting a range of positive learning outcomes, including academic achievement, by affording children and youth opportunities to learn and practice new skills through hands-on, experiential learning” (“After School Programs” 3).
Direction Survey’s 2015-16 “School Climate” data further offers evidence that extracurricular programs have the ability to foster more positive school climates and more satisfied students: 81% of 3986 middle school students think their schools are a good school. 85% of 424 high school students feel as though they have good connections with friends at school, and 88% of 658 students in this age group believe teachers on campus care about them. Direction Survey respondent data helps schools create connections between meaningful participation and inclusion activities as they strive to encourage next year students’ confidence and performance in school.