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Characteristics of High-Performing Programs

(This blog first appeared on MHSAA.com June 28, 2011, and was printed in the September/October 2006 MHSAA Bulletin, and in Lasting Impressions, which appears in the MHSAA's online Library)

A study of 10 academically-oriented after-school programs in New York City funded by the After-School Corporation may provide some unintended guidance for interscholastic athletic programs.

Prepared in November 2005 by Policy Studies Associates, Inc. for the After-School Corporation and Southwest Educational Development Laboratory with support from the U.S. Department of Education, the report “Shared Features of High Performing After-School Programs” identifies the following characteristics of high performing after-school programs:

  1.  A broad array of enrichment opportunities.
  2.  Opportunities for skill building and mastery.
  3.  Intentional relationship building.
  4.  A strong, experienced leader/manager supported by a trained and supervised staff.
  5.  The administrative, fiscal and professional development support of the sponsoring organization.

While competitive junior high/middle school and high school sports were not the subject of this study, here’s what I think these findings could mean for school sports:

  • Interscholastic athletic programs should provide a wide variety of opportunities appealing to a diverse group of students.
  • Interscholastic athletic programs should provide competitive opportunities for the highly skilled as well as learning opportunities for the less skilled so they too might progress to higher levels of competency, or just enjoy the fun, friends and fitness of school sports.
  • Teamwork, sportsmanship and leadership should be outcomes as intentional as development of skills of the sport and strategies of contests.
  • A full-time athletic administrator is essential, and it is imperative this person have authority to train and supervise staff and hold them accountable for performance consistent with the best practices of educational athletics.
  • School boards and their administrators must provide sound policies and procedures, adequate financial support and opportunities for continuing education for the athletic director and every coach.

All in all, a pretty good blueprint for school sports in Michigan.

Posted in: Perspective

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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 45 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for nine years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is chair of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation for 2018.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.