Correlation Between High School Drop-Out Rates And Participation In High School Sports Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Students, Education, Sports, School, High School, Study, Participation, Family

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2021/01/08


Benefits of Participating in School Sports Activities
Reasons for Dropout of High Schools
Consequences of High School Dropouts
Literature Review
Sports Help Students Develop A Connection with School
Limitations of the Current Research
Increasing Sports Budget Cut
Work Cited
The term 'dropping out' refers to the act of quitting a school, college or university. In the USA, dropping out of high school refers to the act of a student quitting school before graduation or avoiding to enter a college or university for higher studies (Hemelt and Marcotte 2013). It cannot always be ascertained whether a student has dropped out, because the student may simply stop attending classes without terminating the enrollment. Statistics show that every year over 1.3 million students drop out of high school in the USA. The Current Population Survey report shows that the number of high school dropout rates in the USA has plummeted from 12% in 1992 to 7% in 2012. Gender wise, the male dropout rates are higher than that of female dropout rates (NCES 2014). In 2012, the male dropout rate was 7% compared to 6% dropout rates for females. The survey report also shows that between 1990 and 2012, the dropout rate among whites is lower than that of Hispanics and Blacks (NCES 2014). The dropout rate among Hispanic population is the highest of all races. Even after the rate of dropout has declined over the last two decades for all the ethnic population, the dropout rate among Hispanic population is still higher than the average at 13%. However, taking into account that the dropout rate among Hispanic population was 32% in 1990, the drop to 13% is a positive sign, especially given the fact that the dropout rate declined in the face of the continuous growth of the Hispanic population (NCES 2014).
In the reduction of the dropout rate among students, one strategy that has proven to be successful is the inclusion of sport programs in the school curricula. Several studies have cited the benefits of sports on academic performance and reduced dropout rates. This paper would discuss the issue on dropout of high schools more in detail, touching upon the reasons of dropouts and the measures taken to reduce the rate of dropout, emphasizing especially the correlation between participation in school sports to the reduction of dropout rates.
Benefits of Participating in School Sports Activities
Participation of sports has many general benefits for the students. Many educators agree that sports have a positive impact on the brain function and critical learning. Participation in sports improves the mental processes like concentration, goal directed behavior and memory. In fact, a recent study conducted by Mahar on physical exercises and on task behavior of students revealed that cognitive skills achieved through the participation of sports actually affect the ability of information processing of those students who play sports actively (Feldman and Matjasko 2005). Physically and mentally demanding sports and recess during classes help improve on-task behavior of the students.
Also, the current statistics show that students, who participate in school sports activities, show better academic behavior than students who do not take participation in sports. For example, in North Carolina and Minnesota, the high school students, who participated in some form of sport activity, achieved a GPA of 2.84 on an average compared to 2.68 of the students with no participation in sports activities (Hazelwood et al 2007). Students who participate in sports are also more likely to graduate from college. Former student athletes show greater desire to graduate and get a job by the age of 24 years. Harlem is one of the glaring examples of this. In Harlem, only 13% of the students go to college. However, 92% of the Harlem RBI sports program participants go to college (Hazelwood et al 2007).
Reasons for Dropout of High Schools

Parent Engagement and Family Structure

Parent engagement is crucial for the successful academic performance of children. Research shows that parental support, both emotionally and financially, is essential for children to remain in school. If parents do not support their children emotionally and withdraw financial support, then students do not see the purpose of staying in school and pursuing studies. Parents' early involvement in children's educational career and their investment after their children's education demonstrate the importance of education in life (Stearns 2006). The lack of parental involvement and financial investment is likely to impress upon the children that education is not important, and they lose focus from studies.


Family economic needs or poverty is another contributing factor to high school dropout rates. The researchers, Russel Rumberger and Sun Ah Lim (2008), in their study have found out that students pertaining to lower socioeconomic status are more likely to drop out of high schools than students belonging to higher socioeconomic strata. They also found that the students working more than 20 hours a week are more likely to drop out of high schools. Besides, poverty or poor socioeconomic condition is connected to a number of adverse conditions, including homelessness, insecurity, imprisonment of parents, domestic violence, abuse of drugs and other problems. Shonkoff and Garner (2012) highlight how adverse conditions triggered by poverty make an impact on learning, health and behavior. These impacts manifest in behaviors preceding a dropout, including chronic absenteeism, poor academic performance, and misdemeanor.
Besides the fact that schools in the USA are highly segregated on the basis of income, social class, race and ethnicity also contribute to the dropout rates. Due to poor socioeconomic condition, it is not affordable for poor earning parents to stay in a location of good schools as they cannot bear the expenses (Rumberger and Lim 2008). Forced by the circumstances, they reside in poor neighborhoods where the schools are marked by high poverty and lack of opportunities for growth.

Academic Performance

Academic performance is also indicative of whether a student will stay in high school. If a student does not academically perform at par with his or her peers in 4th grade, lagging behind others, then the chances for that student to drop out in later years is higher (Feldman and Matjasko 2005). Students doing good in middle school are less likely to drop out of high school. Since the transition from elementary school to middle school makes a huge difference in academic curricula, some students find it difficult to cope up with. In elementary schools, children share one class with the same teachers and classmates primarily, but in middle school, students are rotating classes, classmates, and teachers, and therefore, it becomes difficult to adjust to the transition (Shonkoff and Garner 2012). Since the academic burden also increases in middle school with the addition of multiple subjects, the bond created with teachers is not as strong as that of elementary school. This makes it difficult for students to receive the attention they seek. Research shows that academic performance in middle school, therefore, determines whether a student will attain success in high school.
Consequences of High School Dropouts
Literature Review
When it comes to the correlation between dropout rates and participation in sports, the research world is divided in opinion. While a group of researchers suggests that participation in schools leads to a reduction in high school dropout rates, another group opines otherwise. Possibly, the most vehement opponent to extracurricular activities was Coleman (1961) who opined that the focus on sports and athleticism by the adolescent community takes them away from their academic responsibility, contributing to poor grades. In agreement with Coleman's view, Waxman and Sulton (1984) also stated that active participation in sports contributes negatively to academic performance. Eccles and Barber (1999), on the other hand, alongside citing positive benefits of extracurricular activities, such as prosocial involvement in church and community groups, highlighted the negative effect of participation in sports by stating that playing sports increases the likelihood of involving in risky behavior, especially drinking alcohol. However, they also highlighted the positive benefit of sports by stating that participation in sports is related to an increase in attachment with school and obtainment of higher than the expected GPAs.
The majority of the researchers are in one mind that the participation in sports leads to beneficial outcomes. Marsh (1992), in his study, found out that active participation in extracurricular activities, including sports, is correlated with a positive academic and social self-concept, spending more time on homework, taking more advanced courses, higher GPA, less absenteeism, more parental involvement, higher occupational aspirations and better school attendance. A research study conducted by Mahoney and Cairns (1997) shows that students who participate in school sports are less likely to drop out of high school, compared to those who do not participate in sports. Their study reveals that students who drop out take less participation in sports and extracurricular activities several years prior to the dropout. Their study reflects the fact that participation in sports especially make a huge impact on those students who are at the risk of dropout due to socioeconomic conditions, poor academic performance and other reasons. By participating actively in sports, these students develop a positive connection with school and more conventional social networks, thereby boosting up their individual interests in academic achievements and goals. Especially after reaching 16 years, when the likelihood for students to drop out increases, the bond created through sports with schools makes children stay in school. A Sports Foundation Survey on women also stresses the same fact that student athletes in high school have higher grades and lower dropout rates than non-athletes. McHale, Crouter, and Tucker (2001) also found that sports and the pursuit of hobbies are beneficial for academic achievement of students. In fact, students participating in sports as early as 10 years acquire higher grades and show a lower rate of depression (Feldman and Matjasko 2005).
Sports Help Students Develop A Connection with School

Higher Engagement

Engagement is a mediating factor in the relation between high school dropouts and participation in sports. It has been observed that participation in sports leads to higher social and classroom engagement. Social engagement refers to the connection students share with their classmates; while classroom engagement refers to the relation students develop with the actual school environment. Disengagement issues from the lack of contact and friendship with peers (Feldman and Matjasko 2005). Sports facilitate the process of making students feel comfortable with each other and develop a social bond. Students who participate in sport activities develop a connection with other participants. A study conducted by Haensly, Lupkowski, and Edlind reveals that both high and low achieving students find school more enjoyable by participating in school sports. Low achieving students develop an increased involvement with school by taking part in sports as they get the chance to interact with different students over the sport activity (Lumpkin and Favor 2012).

Better Academic Performance

Several research studies have found that participation in sport activities lead to greater academic performance. For instance, Lumpkin and Favor (2012) conducted a study on grades 9-12 students who did or did not take part in high school sports in Kansas during the academic year of 2008-2009, and their result revealed that students who participated in sports demonstrated higher grades, lower dropouts, higher ACT scores, higher graduation rates and higher state assessment scores on the all tests than the students who did not participate in sports. Although there is a popular misconception that participation in sports distracts students from their studies, the study of Lumpkin and Favor (2012) showed that school athletes do not detach from their studies and academic performance. Rather, sport participation leads to enhance their academic performance.
Sports especially benefit the disadvantaged children belonging to minority sections and low-income groups. These children often encounter significant impediments in achieving the same academic success than their rich, white counterparts, but it has been observed that students from this group show higher achievements in academics and reduced dropout rates when they participate in sports (Barnes 1992).
Limitations of the Current Research
Although there are several new studies that found positive correlation between sports activity and school dropout rate, but there are many other researches that found no correlation between the two. In fact, there are a few more researches that found negative correlation between the two. For example, the findings of Mahoney and Cairns (1997) clearly show that the dropout rate among the participants in sports other than athletics activity is no fewer than those who do not participate in sports. In fact, their study shows that students participating in sports, such as basketball and football, have higher dropout rates than the non-participants. Also, a study by McNeal (1995) showed that there are some positive correlations for female participants, but for male participants there is no positive correlation.
Increasing Sports Budget Cut
Despite the varied benefits of sports, there remains a perennial dilemma as regards the allotment of school budget to sports. Sport programs are the first to get eliminated from the curricula when school districts decide on budget cuts. Especially, school districts serving students of low-income groups are forced to withdraw teams when sufficient numbers of students are not able to pay the required fees, a problem not so common in affluent neighborhoods. In 2009, when Chicago Public Schools required cutting their budget, 28% of schools removed sports programs and extracurricular activities from the curricula (Lumpkin and Favor 2012). In 2010, the same public school districts removed spring sophomore sport programs across the state. In between 2009 and 2010, afterschool programs, including sports, faced the danger of elimination due to the budget cuts worth $405 million (Shonkoff and Garner 2012). During the period between 2009 and 2011, the budgets allotted for extracurricular activities were retrenched by $1.3 million (Lumpkin and Favor 2012). Middle school sport programs are also frequently subjected to elimination, which reduces the opportunities for the students to participate in sport activities in high school.
Though the rate of school dropouts in the USA has decreased over the last decade, 1.3 million students still drop out of high school every year in the country. The rate of dropouts is higher among students pertaining to lower socioeconomic classes and minority sections. Three main reasons identified to be the major contributors of dropout rates include the lack of parental support, poverty and academic performance. The consequent future high school dropouts face is bleak as these dropouts find it difficult to get employment due to which they perennially languish in poverty-ridden conditions. They also add cost burden to the taxpayers and the overall society. Though the literature world is divided in terms of the correlation between sports and the reduction of dropouts, the majority of the researchers are in one mind that participation in sports leads to higher academic achievements and higher engagement with school, teachers, and peer groups. Several reaserch studies have shown that students who participate in sport programs are less likely to drop out of high schools than the non-participating students. However, despite the benefits of sport activities, schools eliminate sport programs when facing a budget cut. In order to encourage students to stay in school and go to graduate school, it is, therefore, recommended that schools take the benefit of sports seriously and add increased number of sport programs in the curricula.
Work Cited
"Fast Facts." National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). 2014. Web. 1 Apr 2015 <>
Hemelt, W. Steven and Marcotte, E. Dave. "High School Exit Exams And Dropout In An Era Of Increased Accountability". Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 32 (2). 323-349. 2013. Print.
Rumberger, Russell and Lim, Sun Ah. "Why students drop out of school: A review of 25 years of research". California Dropout Research Project. 2008. Web. 1 Apr 2015 <>
Lynch, Matthew. "Cause and Effect: The High Cost of High School Dropouts". The Huffington Post. 30 Nov 2014. Web. 1 Apr 2015 <>
Shonkoff, J.P. and Garner, A.S. "The lifelong effects of early childhood adversity and toxic stress". Pediatrics. 129, 232-246, 2012. Print.
Mahoney, J. L. and Cairns, R. B. "Do extracurricular activities protect against early school dropout?" Developmental Psychology, 33(2), 241-253. 1997. Web. 1 Apr 2015 <>
Lumpkin, Angela and Favor, Judy. "Comparing the academic performance of high school athletes and non-athletes in Kansas in 2008-2009". Journal of Sport Administration and Supervision 4(1), 41-62. 2012. Web. 1 Apr 2015 <>
Hazelwood, Vikki et al. "Do College Students Benefit From School Required Activity? A Clinical Trial". Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 39, 196. 2007. Print.
Stearns, E. "When And Why Dropouts Leave High School". Youth & Society. 38 (1), 29-57. 2006. Print.
Barnes, Annie S. Retention Of African-American Males In High School. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1992. Print.
Marsh, H. W. "Extracurricular activities: Beneficial extension of the traditional curriculum or subversion of academic goals?". Journal of Educational Psychology. 84, 553-562. 1992. Print.
Feldman, A. F., and Matjasko, J. L. "The role of school-based extracurricular activities in adolescent development: A comprehensive review and future directions". Review of Educational Research. 75, 159-210. 2005. Print.

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