School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


David Gorman


Urban, Middle School, Academic Achievement, Athletics, Causal-comparative




This quantitative, causal-comparative study was designed to investigate the effect of students’ participation in middle school interscholastic sports on their academic success among urban middle school students. The body of knowledge about the effect of participating in sports on academic achievement is comprehensive at the high school and college levels, but limited research has been done regarding sports participation among middle school students. The participants for this study were drawn from a convenience sample of 366 seventh-grade middle school students in eastern Pennsylvania during the 2018-2019 school year; stratified random sampling was also used to create groups with equal male and female participants. There were 108 student scores used for each research question. The independent variable for both research questions was students’ participation in interscholastic sports programs. The dependent variable for both research questions was the students’ scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment for reading and mathematics. The data were archival as student scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment were from the 2018-2019 school year. Differences between the two groups were examined by conducting two independent sample t tests. The researcher was unable to reject the null hypotheses for RQ1 and RQ2 and concluded that there was no significant difference in academic achievement demonstrated on Reading and Mathematics PSSA scores between the two groups (i.e. athletes and non-athletes). Recommendations for further research on this topic are to include more participants from multiple schools, require a minimum amount of time for participation in a sport, and use course grades to determine academic success.

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