After School Activities Help Reduce K-12 Dropout Rates

Connexeo - 03/08/2018

It is no secret that the lack of a high school diploma makes life more difficult. Americans who did not graduate from high school earn an average of $9,000 less than Americans who did graduate. The risk of high school drop outs slipping into poverty is three times higher than those who finished K12 schooling.

K12 dropout rates in the United States continue to be a difficult problem to solve. According to the Washington Post, the average graduation rate in 2013 was only 81%. The graduation rate varies wildly by state, dropping as low as 62% in the District of Columbia. A study done by the Center for Research on the Education of Students Place at Risk found that there are approximately 1000 high schools in the US that have a 50% graduation rate.

It can be difficult to predict which students are at risk of dropping out. Experts note that high-level indicators like lack of involvement in extracurriculars, taking on adult responsibilities at a young age, poor academic performance and anti-Youth Programs Help Reduce Drop Out Ratessocial behavior are common in students who leave school. When students lack connections with peers or teachers it is easier for them to completely cut ties with the school.

Youth programs, community programs and K12 after school programs can reduce the number of students who drop out. These activities help students feel more connected to their community. Extracurriculars are found to foster friendships and a sense of belonging, reduce stress, improve self-esteem and improve problem-solving skills.

Youth programs may also provide opportunities that are not available to students in schools. For example, as school budgets are adjusted, arts and music programs may be removed from the curriculum. Community programs can help fill the gap in arts education left by budget cuts and help students develop additional skills. Other benefits to students include opportunities for tutoring, additional adult figures in their lives, the opportunity to work on interpersonal skills and team-building. This can all help students who are seen as academically successful but feel too lost in the social life of school to branch out and build a peer group.

Extracurricular activities help students in ways that go beyond the after school hours. The After School Alliance found that students in after school programs are shown to have improved regular attendance at school. They also found that students who participate in after school activities have improved math scores and earn more high school credits. It has even been shown that students who participate in activities outside of school hours behave better in the classroom.

Even parents get in on the benefits of K-12 programs. Nationally, parents miss an average of eight days of work because their children lack after school care. This results in billions of dollars of missed work productivity. Students who join after school clubs or sports have somewhere safe to go after school and enable parents to work their scheduled hours.

Despite the many benefits of community programs, only about 11% of K12 children join these activities. It is important to get the word out about your programs to help encourage more student sign-ups. Since the majority of students drop out of school in grades 11 and 12, partner with a local high school. You can visit classrooms and talk to the students about the different activities you offer. Or, you can bring class catalogs to the school office for distribution.

Setting up a booth at community events is another strategy you can use to increase your visibility. Make sure to have flyers, class descriptions, and photos ready so you can answer each question about your program. If visiting high schools or community events is not an option, try email campaigns, advertisements or mailers. Ask for a mailing list from a local school district or bring flyers door-to-door in neighborhoods near you. Raising awareness of your programs may help empower students to stay in school.





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