New Study Examines Arts Education Initiative

It’s old news that arts education in public schools is suffering. For almost 30 years, arts classes have been cut to make way for a more standardized curriculum. The growing trend of state budget cuts and the No Child Left Behind Act have forced many school districts to take arts education into their own hands, by forming networks of schools, cultural organizations, funders, local government and other groups. Last Wednesday, RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think-tank, released a report assessing several of these initiatives.

Commissioned by the Wallace Foundation, the report, “Revitalizing Arts Education Through Community-Wide Coordination,” looks at arts-integration strategies in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York City and Los Angeles and Alameda counties in California. The study focuses on how these school sites started their programs, the approach they took and the factors that contribute to their success.

The six chosen locations are urban school districts with large minority populations. While the programs in each school district differ, the study found that the six sites used some of the same strategies. These include:

  • Conducting audits of arts education
  • Setting goals of arts access for all
  • Strategic planning
  • Attracting resources
  • Hiring a single arts education coordinator for the entire school district
  • Offering professional development to teachers, artists, principals and administrators
  • Advocating

According to the study, Alameda, Los Angeles and Dallas had developed working programs within five years of launch. Boston has yet to coordinate the entire city, but has developed some arts programs in the last few years. Chicago and New York City are working toward establishing stand-alone arts classes in the schools.

It’s too soon to predict the staying power of these initiatives, but this study offers hope that schools, with the help of their surrounding communities, can pave the way for arts education for all students.

Check out a summary of the study at:
Rachel Neville, courtesy DTH

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