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Arts Happenings: Field News

Department of Education Releases Study on the Nation's Arts Education in Public Schools

Tuesday, April 03, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lynne Kingsley
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On April 2, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the long-awaited study: Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools 1999-2000 and 2009-10.

The surveys that contributed to this report were conducted through the NCES Fast Response Survey System (FRSS), mailed to about 3,400 elementary and secondary school principals and approximately 5,000 music and visual arts teachers.

National arts education leaders, through policy statements, have been calling for this study to be administered for many years, and helped to direct specific funding from Congress to make it possible.

This report presents information on the availability and characteristics of arts education programs of those surveyed, broken down by discipline (music, visual arts, dance, and theatre).

What is most concerning for our field is that the study reveals a huge gap between the number of schools that offer art (83%) and music (94%) instruction and those that offer drama/theatre (4%) and dance (3%) instruction at the elementary school level. The secondary school level results showed not quite as large a gap – Art (89), Music (91), Drama/Theatre (45), Dance (12) – but still present.
 
What is more, in relation to the 1999-2000 FRSS Study on Arts Education, Drama/Theatre and Dance instruction fell by 15 and 17 percentage points respectively in elementary schools and only slightly in secondary schools, while Art and Music remained the same or gained percentage penetration.
 
Sadly, the study was unable to survey dance and theatre specialists because the data sample didn’t have sufficient contact information in those disciplines.
 
Despite being designated a "core academic subject” in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 and being included in mandated elementary school curriculum in 44 states, this survey demonstrates that access to arts education remains elusive to a tremendous number of students across the nation.

This may not be surprising to many following the state of our education system as recent surveys from Common Core and the National Arts Education Foundation have provided fresh evidence of the arts being a victim of the narrowing of the curriculum.

Furthermore, this report mostly found schools with the highest percentage of free or reduced-price lunch-eligible populations significantly less likely to provide students with access to arts education at both the elementary and secondary levels.

This means that the nation’s poorest students, the ones who could benefit the most from arts education, are receiving it the least.
 
For the full research study, click HERE.
 
Many thanks to Americans for the Arts for providing analysis on this study.

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