Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Art Education

Over the past year or two we've seen the emergence of significant studies to determine the levels of access to arts education by students in a given state or in some instances a city. Later today, the New York City Department of Education will release its second Annual Arts in the Schools Report. This year, they're not inviting press to the release. More on that report later this week.

I came across this study by the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Arts Council.
Not surprisingly, the study finds "that while most schools offer some formal arts education to a majority of students, an estimated 29,000 students attend public schools that do not offer any formal arts education."

Importantly, "offer" only tells us so much. There is always a major gap between what's offered and what is received. For instance, in some research related to a Wallace Foundation grant to the NYCDOE, it was estimated that while 50% of the middle schools "offer" dance, only 10% of the students receive it.
The study also claims that "new data reveals that Colorado public high schools offering more arts education have higher scores on state tests in reading, writing and science - regardless of student ethnicity or socioeconomic status. They also have lower dropout rates."

Naturally, these finding are not about "transference" of arts education to reading, writing, and science. They are looking at statistical relationships between students who study arts and their grade scores in certain subject areas, as well as dropout rates. We've seen these claims before, particularly in regards to SAT scores and the number of years a students studies music in high school.
Nevertheless, the more we have to understand the state of access to arts education, the better the position we are in to advocate.

If you're interested in this area, be sure to look at both the SRI report for the Hewlett Foundation and the census report done of all schools in the State of New Jersey.


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