Activities sponsored by outside entities that take students out of the classroom create a dilemma for secondary school principals. On the one hand, educational experiences outside the school or the classroom can engage students in enriching experiences. On the other hand, they create potential accountability challenges and liability issues for school personnel, particularly for principals. In the present context of schools’ heightened accountability for instruction and student outcomes, non-school sanctioned activities result in less instructional time, conflict with important instructional activities, and may diminish the school’s ability to increase student achievement as required by federal and state mandates. Additionally, critical state funding is often tied to student attendance.

NASSP Guiding Principles:

  • School boards and/or district offices have the authority to approve or prohibit activities sponsored by outside entities that take students out of the classroom. Principals are responsible for all students in their schools.
  • The NASSP National Committee on Student Contests and Activities provides information to assist principals in making decisions regarding participation in outside programs based on high standards and publishes an advisory list of activities that meet those standards.
  • Research data shows that students are safer at school than away from schools (Position Statement on Safe Schools, 2000).
  • Instructional time is diminished for all students when large numbers of students choose to participate in activities that take them away from the classroom, as teachers will be reluctant to move forward with the curriculum without all students present.


  • Non-school sanctioned activities should, whenever possible, take place during non-instructional time.
  • All activities should be in compliance with local school board policies and district regulations. School boards and superintendents should support principals in determining the appropriateness of participation in non-school sanctioned activities during instructional time.
  • Activities sponsored by a non-school entity that take students out of the classroom should demonstrate their educational value and meet the standards and guidelines established by the NASSP National Committee on Student Contests and Activities.

Approved by the NASSP Board of Directors
February 20, 2003, San Diego, California