Monday, July 12, 2010

Does Arts Education improve academic success?

There is a correlation between arts education and academic success. It helps to close the gap between student’s academic achievements. The arts provide an incentive to attend school and participate more effectively due to the incentive of participating in the arts program. The effects of arts instruction on learning have found that children who study the arts are:

• Four times more likely to be acknowledged for scholastic achievement;

• Elected to class office within their schools three times as often;

• Four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair;

• Three times more likely to get an award for school attendance; and

• Four times more likely to succeed in winning an award for English competency.

In addition to academic success, students introduced to arts education have heightened soft skills, such as creative thinking, confidence, imagination, elaboration and participation. In a study of more than 2000 middle school students in four states, researchers at Columbia University found that children receiving at least three years of in-school arts instruction scored significantly higher on quantitative tests of creative thinking than their peers with less arts instruction. Students with more arts instruction had index scores averaging 20 points higher than their peers on measures of the aforementioned soft skills.

Nonetheless, arts education develops cognitive skills which may or may not be easily measured through standardized testing. According to Dr. Elliot W. Eisner of Stanford University, schooling in the arts has cognitive effects that help prepare students for the 21st-century workforce. Eisner identifies key competencies of cognitive growth that are developed through an education in the arts.

These include:

• Understanding of healthy relationships;

• Problem solving;

• Attention to distinctions;

• Flexibility and confidence;

• Decision-making skills; and

• Identifying goals and outcomes.

School districts are finding that the arts develop many skills applicable to the “real world” environment. In a study of 91 school districts across the nation, evaluators found that the arts contribute significantly to the creation of the flexible and adaptable knowledge workers that businesses demand to compete in today’s economy.

In addition to supporting employment competencies, arts education in themselves are marketable skills in today’s economy. For instance, today’s media workers are applying arts skills in careers such as video and audio production, Web design, graphic design and advertising. Design skills taught through the arts are both professional and technical and can lead students to careers in the architecture or fashion industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has counted more than 2 million full-time workers in artist occupations. In this way, workforce development programs that involve the arts may provide dual benefits, opening up careers in the creative industries for some students while enhancing the overall workforce preparedness of others.

In conclusion, closing the gap of academic achievement can be addressed by encouraging art education not eliminating it from the education system. Due to budget cutbacks in school districts throughout the country, arts.
"Living the Arts Through Language + Learning: A Report on Community-Based Youth Organizations," Shirley Brice Heath. Americans for the Arts, November 1998

"Learning in and Through the Arts: Curriculum Implications," Burton, Horowitz and Abeles in Champions of Change.

"Ten Lessons the Arts Teach," Elliot Eisner. Learning and the Arts: Crossing Boundaries, Amdur Spitz & Associates, 2000.

Gaining the Arts Advantage: Lessons from School Districts that Value Arts Education, President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities and the Arts Education Partnership, 1999.

"Artist Employment in 2000," Research Division Note # 78, National Endowment for the Arts, May 2001.