The Choices We Make in School

The Choices We Make in Middle School By Margaret Askelsen

All of us know that the choices we make in life influence the outcomes! Clarion-Goldfield Middle School data proves this point concerning important choices students make, like doing homework, participating in extra-curricular activities, participation in music and coming to school each day. Data was used from the 2010-2011 school year. All data reflects CGMS students currently in 7th and 8th grade. Our data proves that positive choices influence scores.

Students who attended school the most days had the highest grade point averages. We all agree that students who are truly sick should not attend school and spread disease to others. We also agree that washing hands frequently is the best way to prevent the spread of organisms that cause illness. Nevertheless, regularly attending school is the best way to insure your child’s future.

Students live busy lives today and the controversy of homework remains, but our data is conclusive. Students who complete homework on a regular basis have the highest ITBS scores and the highest grade point averages. Homework is simply an important extension of in-school opportunities to learn and it makes a difference in the success of students.

Research continues to be done on the effects of music on learning. Perhaps music simply helps students relieve stress, which can affect learning, or maybe it helps a child develop more confidence, or helps sharpen a child’s memory. We don’t know the reason but, once again, students involved in music scored higher on core total national percentile ranking on Iowa Tests of Basic Skills.

To determine if participation in activities, including Peer Helper, 4-H, scouts, and sports made a difference in grade point and Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, a questionnaire was given to all current 8th grade students. Results showed that participation in more activities improved academic performance on both grade point averages and Iowa Tests of Basic Skills scores.

This information can guide and direct us as parents and teachers. As parents and teachers we can make sure our students are getting homework completed each day and that adequate support, such as the Connections program, is being utilized. We can make sure students are in school and are not missing school for things that can be done at some other time. We can encourage music in our students’ lives and provide students with opportunities to play instruments by looking in our closets and pulling out old instruments and donating them to our school so that everyone has equal opportunity to learn to play instruments. We can encourage our children to participate and get active in life. Not everyone wants to be an athlete but many other opportunities await students such as, 4- H, scouts, Peer Helper, as well as numerous other religion based activities. Our students and our children’s choices do make a difference. Let’s all help them to be the best they can be!!!