Australian adolescents living in regional communities are significantly more likely to perform worse at school, relative to those in metropolitan communities. These disparities are partially due to the development of lower educational expectations among regional adolescents. In the current study, we tested whether the differences in educational expectations across communities were reduced when adolescents engage in extracurricular activities, and any subsequent downstream effects on academic outcomes. The current study used a subsample of 1,477 adolescents recruited as part of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children who have graduated from high school. Using a random-intercept cross-lagged panel
model, we found that residing in a regional community at the start of secondary education predicted worse academic performance when graduating 6 years later. This association was partially mediated by lower educational expectations and school functioning, measured biennially. However, the significant difference between adolescents in metropolitan and regional communities dissipated when participants engaged in three or more types of extracurricular activities. These results highlight that increasing access and support to participate in extracurricular activities in regional communities may contribute to reducing inequities in educational outcomes.
- Academic performance
- Educational expectations
- Extracurricular activities