Community groups and sports not connected to school can help students stay more connected academically during a critical transition period,suggests.
The move from elementary to middle school can be rough for students, but some outside activities can buffer that transition, said New York University doctoral researcher Kate Schwartz, who analyzed the transition in a forthcoming study in the American Journal of Community Psychology.
Of the 1,400 low-income urban adolescents who were followed in the ongoing study, more than a third of 5th graders and two-fifths of middle school students said they took part in no activities in or out of school, or that they participated once a month or less.
Students who took part in one or two sports or community activities outside of school a few times a month had higher grade point averages, particularly if they became more involved in those activities during 6th grade. But Schwartz found no academic benefit for students who were involved in school-based activities, such as pep squad, drama, or student government.
A version of this article appeared in the October 28, 2015 edition of Education Week as Young Adolescents