Dear YD colleagues,
4-H is committed to contributing to helping youth learn and lead, and we know that school success is a very important outcome for youth. So we invested in conducting a study to see how youth who participate in 4-H do in standardized tests on math and reading, and in school attendance compared to other similar youth, and to understand how parent engagement and duration of 4-H participation affects youth achievement and attendance.
Dale Blyth was the lead investigator of the study, which was conducted in partnership with the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare. Pam Larson Nippolt and others on our staff also contributed to the study, along with a group of internal and community advisors over the past two years. Josey Landrieu and I acted as advisors.
The study looked at a matched sample of 20,000 youth using data from the Minnesota Department of Education and Department of Human Services, and at math and reading scores, and attendance over five years for 3rd through 8th graders in 2006.
The results show that Minnesota youth who participate in 4-H did better in math and reading scores, and in attendance than the matched sample of youth who were not in 4-H. Youth who stayed in 4-H longer did better than youth who were in 4-H for shorter periods of time. And 4-H'ers whose families volunteered in 4-H did better than youth whose families did not.
The data show that youth who join 4-H come into the program already performing better in math and reading than other youth, and maintain (but do not increase) that better performance over time. The data do not show why or how the difference occurs. The difference may be the result of a variety of unknown factors that lead to a higher level of learning like parental support, more resources or other factors that come together to create a difference.
A summary of the findings are that:
- Youth who participate in 4-H had consistently higher attendance, and better math and reading scores than their non-4-H peers.
- Parent involvement in 4-H was associated with increased math scores, but not increased reading scores or school attendance.
- 4-H youth with more extensive involvement over time had higher attendance and better math and reading scores.
Over the next month, we will develop key messages and tools to help you communicate about the study and findings to your local stakeholders.
Associate dean & state 4-H director