I like to read articles about arts education…in my free time. I’m not talking about any ol’ feel good magazine article or newspaper opinion piece. I’m talking about research reports you have to find on databases like JSTOR and ERIC or download from organizations like the Arts Education Partnership. You know—the 30 plus page ones. I was even borderline giddy as I waited in line at Joseph-Beth Booksellers to purchase Dr. James Catterall’s book “Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art” (which I highly recommend).
I’m fascinated by the impact the arts can have on a student’s education. It’s the reason I choose my career path. I had plenty of other opportunities in college—math, social work, history… the list is really quite long.
On March 30, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released a new research report on arts education. The research team, led by Dr. Catterall, looked at four different longitudinal studies to compare student involvement in the arts with academic and social outcomes. Amazingly (but not to us), the researchers found a high correlation between student involvement in the arts and higher test scores, higher levels of education and an increased likelihood to give back to the community.
However, in my opinion, that isn’t the best part of the report. The best part is that students who are the MOST at risk in our schools—students from low-income homes and low-educational backgrounds— often perform as well as their peers when they are involved in the arts. In other words, the whole “achievement gap” issue disappears when you add the arts. WOW!
Click here for a direct link to the study. It’s only 24 pages counting all of the colorful graphs.
Also, if you are like me and want to know more about how the arts can help students, the Arts Education Partnership recently made their ArtsEdSearch site live. It’s a website where arts education research has been collected and summarized by age and type of arts engagement. I can’t even describe how amazing it is; it makes my heart melt just thinking about it.
Rachel Allen, arts education director