States News Roundup

May 02, 1984 4 min read

The Minnesota State High School League has found that students who participate in extracurricular activities generally have better grade-point averages and attendance records than do students who do not participate in the activities.

“The study documents what school officials have long assumed to be true,” said Larry Larson, league information officer. "[S]tudents who are involved in athletics and fine arts generally are better students than non-participants when it comes to grade-point average and attendance.”

The survey, based on responses from 305 of the league’s 500 member schools, found that the grade-point average for all students in the 1982-83 school year stood at 2.68, which is about a C-plus. Student athletes as a group, however, averaged 2.84, which put them in the B-minus category. And students participating in the fine arts--drama, speech, debate, or music--averaged 2.98, about a B.

The attendance report showed that the absenteeism rate for all students was 8.76 days for the 1982-83 school year, compared with 7.44 for student athletes and 6.94 for participants in other league-sanctioned activities.

“It doesn’t surprise me that the athlete and fine-arts students collectively do a better job, because I think the kind of habits students develop from participating in extracurricular activities carry over and become good habits in the application of their academic studies,” said Orv Bies, the league’s assistant director.

The league, a member of the National Federation of State High School Activity Associations, sanctions the extracurricular activities of about 95,000 student athletes and 30,000 fine-arts students, Mr. Larson said. The league’s survey was released April 17.

Montana education officials have reached an agreement in a two-year-old discrimination suit that alleged that young women participating in interscholastic sports were treated inequitably.

The suit was initiated in 1982 by three students from the Missoula, Columbia Falls, and Whitehall school districts against the state superintendent for public instruction and the Montana High School Association, which governs all extracurricular activities.

The settlement agreement, which was signed this month, resolves all charges in the class action and establishes minimum standards in school athletics to assure young women equal opportunity in interscholastic sports, according to Richard P. Bartos, lawyer for the state superintendent. Signing the agreement, he said, does not constitute an

admission of discrimination by any of the defendants named in the suit.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mr. Bartos said, school officials will be required to provide, among other things, an equal number of state-sanctioned sports events for boys and girls, equal consideration in the scheduling and location of tournaments, and equal compensation and meal expenses for coaches.

The agreement also extends the state’s grievance procedures to disputes that arise in the future over interscholastic athletics, according to Mr. Bartos.

The 42-page document now must be approved by a federal district judge.

A three-year project designed to help students and members of the public understand the benefits and drawbacks of chemicals will begin this month at the University of California’s Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley.

The project, to be conducted in cooperation with the Chemical Industry Council of California, will collect information on chemicals and make it available to the public. Informational and educational programs and materials for schools will also be tested and developed.

Program officials have targeted middle and junior-high schools to receive instructional materials.

Those grades are “promising points for educational-improvement efforts and science,” according to Herbert D. Thier, associate director of the Lawrence Hall of Science and program director for the Chemical Education for Public Understanding Project.

Private companies and foundations have pledged $130,000 to support the first year of the project. A bill now pending in the California legislature would make it a model public education project to be reproduced around the state.

Kentucky has launched an “education foundation” that will raise funds from state and local businesses to “support and enrich” education in the state, Superintendent of Public Instruction Alice McDonald announced late last month.

The private, nonprofit corporation has received an initial 25,000 grant from Ashland Oil Inc. to sponsor its first project this June--a week-long institute at the University of Kentucky for 40 teachers that will focus on the challenges technology will pose in the future, Ms. McDonald said.

The funds that the foundation will provide for the state’s elementary and secondary schools are “intended to supplement, but not replace” government funds for education, she said.

Kentucky joins a handful of other states that have launched statewide foundations. West Virginia is believed to be the first state to form such a nonprofit organization.

A version of this article appeared in the May 02, 1984 edition of Education Week as States News Roundup