Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Peter Ross


High School Student Athletes and Nonathletes'

Disciplinary Referrals and Grade Point Averages


Jack Calhoun

MEd, Georgia Southwestern State University, 1998

BS, Georgia Southwestern State University, 1997

Doctoral Study Submitted in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Education

Walden University

December 2014

This quantitative study investigated how athletic participation in public high schools influenced students' academic achievement and positive social behavior. Disciplinary referrals are on the rise in American schools and are a cause of concern for teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. School personnel currently implement programs designed to curb discipline problems in the classroom and foster productive behavior among adolescents. There is some debate and conflicting literature on whether sports participation has a beneficial influence on students. The writings of Virgina Chomitz, who hypothesized a positive relationship between academic achievement and physical fitness, guided this research. This study analyzed grade point average (GPA) and discipline referral data for 4,433 students in a suburban American high school over a 3-year time period. The GPA and referral data for athletes and nonathletes were compared using multiple t tests, and it was found that athletes had significantly higher GPAs and lower discipline referrals when compared to nonathletes. These results, which match the original hypotheses, provide greater insight into how participating in athletics may improve a student's behavior and academic achievement. With this knowledge, educators may place greater emphasis on athletics as a method to promote achievement and positive experiences among high school students. These positive effects will contribute to social change for students at an individual level and for entire school environments.