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Study: High school journalism pupils smarter

Students excel in college, boast better grades.

Posted: April 26, 2008 2:55 a.m.
Updated: June 27, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
All that extra interviewing, researching and writing pays off for high school journalism students, raising their grades and helping them be more successful in college, a recent study found.

High school students who participate in school journalism programs earn significantly higher grade point averages, score better on college entrance exams and demonstrate better writing and grammar skills in college compared to students who had no involvement with their school's newspaper or yearbook, according to a study released by the Newspaper Association of America Foundation.

"This study provides evidence that high school journalism programs can have a profoundly positive impact on a young person's present and future academic success," said Margaret Vassilikos, senior vice president and treasurer of the NAA Foundation. "The results emphasize the importance of maintaining strong journalism programs in high school."

All of the traditional high schools in the William S. Hart Union High School District, as well as Early College High School, have journalism programs.

"I definitely see improved writing and logic in my journalism students," said Vern Burns, journalism advisor at West Ranch High School.

The West Ranch journalism program started from scratch with all freshmen four years ago when the school opened. As a result, the first few copies of the Paw Print were filled with immature and opinionated writing, not to mention errors, Burns said.

"Regularly wrestling for four years with writing, research methods, coordination of facts, story flow, and related factors has transformed those former newbies into logical thinkers, savvy page designers, and competent writers," Burns said. "Editors especially have benefited in terms of timeliness, distinguishing facts from opinions, and people management."

Larry Dubin, journalism advisor at Canyon High School sees the results of the study as reciprocal - students in journalism programs do improve their skills through all the writing and research they do, but at the same time, advisors are looking for students who are successful academically and have good English skills to enter the program.

"I think it's a two-fold thing," Dubin said. "But I would agree there is a positive link between journalism students and academic performance."

Students in the journalism program at Valencia High School must earn at least a "B" in their English classes or they are asked to leave the program, according to advisor Beth Blok.

"That's only happened twice," she said. "Most kids who really care about journalism have no trouble getting a 'B.'"

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