Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Report Cites Need For More Arts Integration

Courtesy the Committed Sardine blog, and remember, Math IS an artform...

Although No Child Left Behind has prompted many districts to focus on core subject areas and ignore or cut arts education programs, a new federal report suggests that’s a wrong approach.
Released May 6, the report reveals that arts education might help student achievement in these core areas and is essential to the nation’s future competitiveness—and it urges school leaders to try creative approaches to arts education during the school day.

Compiled by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), the report is titled “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.” It is the first federal analysis of arts education data of its kind in a decade.

“To succeed today and in the future, America’s children will need to be inventive, resourceful, and imaginative,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in the report’s foreword. “The best way to foster that creativity is through arts education.”

Developed in response to President Obama’s Arts Policy Campaign Platform, the report presents five recommendations to help schools incorporate the arts into other disciplines:

1.Build robust collaborations among different approaches to arts education.
2.Develop the field of arts integration.
3.Expand in-school opportunities for teaching artists.
4.Use federal and state policies to reinforce the place of arts in K-12 education.
5.Widen the focus of evidence gathering about arts education.
“Imagine more science classrooms where kids learned about sound waves by playing the flute, or understood mathematical relationships by creating digital designs,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president of the arts at the Knight Foundation. “Integrating arts into our everyday lives and learning is essential.”

Data highlighted in the report show that low-income students who participate in arts education are four times more likely to have high academic achievement and three times more likely to have high attendance than those who don’t, with these results continuing into college. Schools that participated in an arts-integration model had consistently higher average scores on district reading and math assessments.

Neuroscience studies demonstrate that arts education can have a significant impact on brain development. Music training helps with the development of phonological awareness and spatial-temporal reasoning, helping with reading skills, while children who practiced a specific art form improved their attention skills and general intelligence. Links also exist between high levels of music training and the ability to manipulate information in both working memory and long-term memory.

Studies cited in the report show that arts integration leads to better attendance and fewer discipline problems, as well as increased graduation rates, especially for economically disadvantaged students. This information comes at a time when the national dropout rate has fluctuated between 25 and 30 percent since 2001, while some demographic groups have far higher rates.

Approximately 50 percent of males from economically disadvantaged groups are estimated to leave high school before graduation, while 2 million students attend what federal officials call “dropout factories.”

PCAH developed the report after 18 months of school visits, interviews with educational leaders, and reviews of recent research. The panel concluded that arts education is a boon for the private sector—business leaders are looking for innovation and creativity from their employees—and is an important way to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s careers.

“We know that education is key to winning the future and that, to compete, we must challenge ourselves to improve educational outcomes for our children,” said Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “The administration recognizes the powerful role that the arts education strategies presented in this report can play in closing the achievement gap, improving student engagement, and building creativity and innovative thinking skills.”

PCAH plans to spend the next year presenting the report’s findings to policy makers, superintendents, principals, and educators and exploring ways to implement its recommendations.

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