The great class divide: Arts education disappearing in poorer schools

3 Apr

Opportunities to participate in the arts should be available in ALL neighborhoods and among ALL social groups. A report, Critical Evidence: How The ARTS Benefit Student Achievement provides reasons why the arts are important for student achievement:

A growing body of studies, including those in the research compendium Critical Links, presents compelling evidence connecting student learning in the arts to a wide spectrum of academic and social benefits. These studies document the habits of mind, social competencies and personal dispositions inherent to arts learning. Additionally, research has shown that what students learn in the arts may help them to master other subjects, such as reading, math or social studies.

Students who participate in arts learning experiences often improve their achievement in other realms of learning and life. In a well-documented national study using a federal database of over 25,000 middle and high school students, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles found students with high arts involvement performed better on standardized achievement tests than students with low arts involvement. Moreover, the high arts-involved students also watched fewer hours of TV, participated in more community service and reported less boredom in school.12 The concept of transfer, in which “learning in one context assists learning in a different context,” has intrigued cognitive scientists and education researchers for more than a century.13 A commonly held view is that all learning experiences involve some degree of transfer both in life and learning outside the school as well as learning within the school. However, the nature and extent of these transfers remain a topic of great research interest. Recent studies suggest the effects of transfer may in fact accrue over time and reveal themselves in multiple ways.

Researchers continue to explore the complex processes involved in learning and the acquisition of knowledge and skills. One promising line of inquiry focuses on how to measure the full range of benefits associated with arts learning. These include efforts to develop a reliable means to assess some of the subtler effects of arts learning that standardized tests fail to capture, such as the motivation to achieve or the ability to think critically.

The relationship between arts learning and the SAT is of considerable interest to anyone concerned with college readiness and admissions issues. The SAT Reasoning Test (formerly known as the SAT I) is the most widely used test offered by the College Board as part of its SAT Program. It assesses students’ verbal and math skills and knowledge and is described as a “standardized measure of college readiness.”

Many public colleges and universities use SAT scores in admissions. Nearly half of the nation’s three million high school graduates in 2005 took the SAT. Multiple independent studies have shown increased years of enrollment in arts courses are positively correlated with higher SAT verbal and math scores. High school students who take arts classes have higher math and verbal SAT scores than students who take no arts classes.

Arts participation and SAT scores co-vary—that is, they tend to increase linearly: the more arts classes, the higher the scores. This relationship is illustrated in the 2005 results shown below. Notably, students who took four years of arts coursework outperformed their peers who had one half-year or less of arts coursework by 58 points on the verbal portion and 38 points on the math portion of the SAT.

http://www.nasaa-arts.org/Publications/critical-evidence.pdf

Unfortunately, many poorer schools are cutting back or eliminating arts education.

Christine Armario of AP writes in the Minneapolis Star Tribune article, Report: Fewer elementary schools offering visual arts, drama, dance; poor students hurt most:

Elementary schools without drama classes. High schools with large numbers of poor students that do not offer music.

Those are two of the bleaker pictures that emerged Monday from a report by the U.S. Department of Education on the state of arts education.

Fewer public elementary schools are offering visual arts, dance and drama classes than a decade ago, a decline many attribute to budget cuts and an increased focus on math and reading. The percentage of elementary schools with a visual arts class declined from 87 to 83 percent. In drama, the drop was larger: From 20 percent to 4 percent in the 2009-10 school year.

Music at the elementary and secondary school levels remained steady, though there were declines at the nation’s poorest schools….

http://www.startribune.com/nation/145804075.html

A recent study found that at-risk youth benefit from arts education.

According to The National Endowment for the Arts press release:

New NEA Research Report Shows Potential Benefits of Arts Education for At-Risk Youth

Youth Have Better Academic Outcomes, Higher Career Goals, and Are More Civically Engaged

March 30, 2012

Contact:
Sally Gifford
202-682-5606
giffords@arts.gov

Washington, DC — At-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school also tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement, according to a new NEA report, The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies. The study reports these and other positive outcomes associated with high levels of arts exposure for youth of low socioeconomic status.

The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth study uses four separate longitudinal studies (three from the U.S. Department of Education) to track children, teenagers, and young adults who had high or low levels of arts engagement in or out of school. Those activities included coursework in music, dance, theater, or the visual arts; out-of-school arts lessons; or membership, participation, and leadership in arts organizations and activities, such as band or theater.

The study focuses on the potential effects of arts engagement on youth from the lowest quarter of socioeconomic status. Although most of the arts-related benefits in this report applied only to these at-risk youth, some findings also suggest benefits for youth from advantaged backgrounds.

“Arts education doesn’t take place in isolation,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “It has to take place as part of an overall school and education reform strategy. This report shows that arts education has strong links with other positive educational outcomes.”

Among the key findings:

Better academic outcomes — Teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic (SES) status who have a history of in-depth arts involvement (“high arts”) show better academic outcomes than low-SES youth with less arts involvement (“low arts”). They earn better grades and have higher rates of college enrollment and attainment.

  • Low-SES students who had arts-rich experiences in high school were ten percent more likely to complete a high school calculus course than low-SES students with low arts exposure (33 percent versus 23 percent).
  •  High-arts, low-SES students in the eighth grade were more likely to have planned to earn a bachelor’s degree (74 percent) than were all students (71 percent) or low-arts, low-SES students (43 percent).
  • High-arts, low-SES students were 15 percent more likely to enroll in a highly or moderately selective four-year college than low-arts, low-SES students (41 percent versus 26 percent).
  • Students with access to the arts in high school were three times more likely than students who lacked those experiences to earn a bachelor’s degree (17 percent versus five percent).
  • When it comes to participating in extracurricular activities in high school, high-arts, low-SES students are much more likely also to take part in intramural and interscholastic sports, as well as academic honor societies, and school yearbook or newspaper — often at nearly twice or three times the rate of low-arts, low-SES students. 

Higher career goals — There is a marked difference between the career aspirations of young adults with and without arts backgrounds.

  • High-arts, low-SES college students had the highest rates of choosing a major that aligns with a professional career, such as accounting, education, nursing, or social sciences (30 percent), compared to low-arts, low-SES students (14 percent) and the overall SES sample (22 percent).
  • Half of all low-SES adults with arts-rich backgrounds expected to work in a professional career (such as law, medicine, education, or management), compared to only 21 percent of low-arts, low-SES young adults.

More civically engaged – Young adults who had intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults who did not, with comparatively high levels of volunteering, voting, and engagement with local or school politics. In many cases, this difference appears in both low-and high-SES groups.

  • High-arts, low-SES eighth graders were more likely to read a newspaper at least once a week (73 percent) compared to low-arts, low-SES students (44 percent) and the overall SES sample (66 percent).
  • High-arts, low-SES young adults reported higher volunteer rates (47 percent) than the overall sample and low-arts, low-SES young adults (43 and 26 percent respectively).
  • High-arts, low-SES young adults voted in the 2004 national election at a rate of 45 percent, compared to 31 percent of low-arts, low-SES young adults.

The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies was prepared for the National Endowment for the Arts by James S. Catterall, University of California Los Angeles, with Susan A. Dumais, Louisiana State University, and Gillian Hampden-Thompson, University of York, U.K. The report is one of the NEA’s latest efforts to conduct and commission research that examines evidence of the value and impactof the arts in other domains of American life, such as education, health and well-being, community liveability, and economic prosperity. The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth is available at arts.gov.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at www.arts.gov.

http://www.nea.gov/news/news12/Arts-At-Risk-Youth.html

Education must be funded equitably.

Sabra Bireda’s report from the Center for American Progress, Funding Education Equitably  finds that education funding is often inequitable.

The old axiom that the rich get richer certainly plays out in the American classroom—often to the detriment of achieving academic success. Data on intradistrict funding inequities in many large school districts confirm what most would guess—high-poverty schools actually receive less money per pupil than more affluent schools.1 These funding inequities have real repercussions for the quality of education offered at high-poverty schools and a district’s ability to overcome the achievement gap between groups of students defined by family income or ethnicity….

Moi has often said in posts at the blog that the next great civil rights struggle will involve access for ALL children to a good basic education. A Key component in that goal is equitable education funding for ALL schools.

Related:

Arts Involvement Narrows Student Achievement Gap http://www.miller-mccune.com/education/arts-involvement-narrows-student-achievement-gap-40745/

11 Reasons the Arts are Important http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-reasons-arts-are-important

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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