Ohio study: Academics and high school sports may mix

7 Feb

It is a story about the dreams, realistic or unrealistic, of many young people who try to achieve the brass ring of a super star career. The NCAA offers some sobering statistics about how many young people actually achieve super stardom. The NCAA has compiled a probability chart. that estimates the probability of high school athletes competing in college athletics. So, count moi among the skeptics about the value placed in many high schools on athletics and athletic programs. A study of Ohio high schools find that many schools combine a strong athletic program and strong academics.

Jay P. Greene writes in the Education Next article, Does Athletic Success Come at the Expense of Academic Success?

We found that high schools that devote more energy to athletic success also tend to produce more academic success. In particular, we looked at whether high schools with a higher winning percentage in sports also had higher test scores as well as higher rates of educational attainment. We also looked at whether high schools that offered more sports and had a larger share of their student body participating in sports also tended to have higher test scores and higher attainment.

Using several different specifications, we find that higher rates of athletic success and participation were associated with schools having higher overall test scores and higher educational attainment, controlling for observed school inputs. For example, we found:

With regard to attainment, a 10 percentage point increase in a school’s overall winning percentages associated with a 1.3 percentage point improvement in its CPI, which is an estimate of its high school graduation rate.We also looked at whether schools that offered more opportunities to participate in sports had different rates of attainment:

When we only examine winter sports, an increase of one sport improves CPI by 0.01, which would be a 1 percentage point increase in the high school graduation rate. For the winter, the addition of 10 students directly participating in sports is associated with a 0.015 improvement in CPI, or a 1.5% increase in high school graduation rate.In addition to attainment, we also looked at achievement on state tests:

We observe similar positive and statistically significant relationships between the success and participation in high school sports and student achievement as measured by the Ohio standardized test results. A 10 percentage point increase in overall winning percentage is associated with a 0.25 percentage point increase in the number of students at or above academic proficiency. (See Table 4) When we examine the effect of winning percentage in each sport separately, once again winning in football has the largest effect. Girls’ basketball also remains positive and statistically significant (at p < 0.10), but boys’ basketball is not statistically distinguishable from a null effect.Lastly, we looked at the effect of participation rates in Ohio high schools on overall student achievement:

As for participation and achievement, the addition of one sport increases the number of students at or above academic proficiency by 0.2 of a percentage point. The addition of 10 students directly participating in a sports team improves the proportion of students at or above proficient by 0.4 of a percentage point. Both of these results are statistically significant at p < 0.01. (See Table 5) When examining just the winter season, adding one winter sport increases the percentage of students performing proficiently by 0.4 of a percentage point, while an additional 10 student able to directly participate in sports during the winter season relates to a 0.6 percentage point increase in students at or above proficiency (see Table 5)It is a common refrain among advocates for education reform that athletics ”have assumed an unhealthy priority in our high schools.” But these advocates rarely offer data to support their view. Instead, they rely on stereotypes about dumb jocks, anecdotes, and painful personal memories as their proof.

Our data suggest that this claim that high school athletic success comes at the expense of academic success is mistaken. Of course, we cannot make causal claims based on our analyses about the relationship between sports and achievement. It’s possible that schools that are more effective at winning in sports and expanding participation are also the kinds of schools that can produce academic success. But the evidence we have gathered at least suggests that any trade-offs between sports and achievement would have to be subtle and small, if they exist at all. Descriptively, it is clear that high schools that devote more energy to sports also produce higher test scores and higher graduation rates. http://educationnext.org/does-athletic-success-come-at-the-expense-of-academic-success/

Citation:

Does Athletic Success Come at the Expense of Academic Success?

Daniel H. Bowen*

Jay P. Greene

University of Arkansas

Abstract

Claims are often made about the impact of high school athletics on academic achievement without reference to empirical research on the issue. In this paper we empirically examine the relationship between the extent to which high schools have winning sports teams, offer a variety of sports options, and facilitate student participation in athletics on schools’ overall student achievement and attainment. We find that high school athletics do not appear to detract from academic success. In fact, based on the data we examined from Ohio high schools, an emphasis on athletic success and participation is associated with higher scores on standardized tests and higher graduation rates.      http://www.eeraonline.org/journal/files/v22/JRE_v22n2_Article_1_Bowen.pdf

Still, most kids need to prepare for a life outside of athletics and for parents who are living out their dreams and hopes through their children, to tell them differently is reckless.

Kids health has some thoughts about What Makes A Good Coach?

 Winning Isn’t Everything

.Most of you respect coaches who put winning in perspective and teach players it’s just one part of the game. Naturally, you want to win – but you also want the enjoyment of playing well, learning, and working as a team. Kim, 13, told us, “A good coach isn’t obsessed with winning but will motivate you and your team to want to win.” l

You Want to Improve Your Skills

So what should your coach care about most? Giving everyone a chance to play received the most votes from girls. Guys voted for teaching new skills. But when girls’ and guys’ votes were combined, it was pretty much a coin toss: 45% of you think your coach should teach new skills and 46% said giving everyone a chance to play should be most important….

 Coaches Who Understand and Motivate Their Players

A coach has to understand a player’s weaknesses and strengths. “They need to know the sport and the athletes well enough to make good choices for the athlete,” said Shannon, 14….

Coaches Who Are Tough but Fair

Coaches who are realistic and honest about what a person can achieve – even when it’s hard – are the kinds of coaches you look up to. Stephanie, 13, told us a good coach has “the ability to tell you the straight truth or facts without making you feel bad….”

Coaches Who Teach Life Skills Along With Sports Skills

“Besides just coaching, they share wisdom and insight on life based on personal experience,” said Alex, 15, who told us about his high school wrestling coach. “It helps having someone besides a parent that’s an adult that you can talk to in some situations….”

Coaches Who Make It a Team Effort

Working toward a goal as a team is a priority for you (even if the team’s just you and your coach). And coaches who treat players with respect, as equals, win your praise. “A good coach will listen to the team’s ideas,” said Kelsey, 14.

“A good coach understands that respect is to be earned and understands that they do not control the team, they are part of the team,” said Rebecca, 13….

Coaches have a great impact on players, but parents have a great influence as well. Too many players have pressure put on them to succeed in athletics because they are living out a parent’s failed dream or the parent feels the child is a lottery ticket out of miserable circumstances. The outcome of these failed dreams is often devastating.

Most kids will never appear at the Final Four or Superbowl. For kids who possess extraordinary talent and desire to achieve at the top level of sports, of course nurture their talent and their desire. But, society and their families owe it to these kids to be honest about their chances and the fact that they need to prepare for a variety of outcomes. The best outcome for any school setting is to produce well-rounded kids.

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