One Year Later: Well-Rounded Education Boosted in Implementation of the K-12 Education Law

Posted by Narric Rome, Dec 13, 2016 0 comments

Leading up to the decade-long work that resulted in enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act last year—the latest authorization of the landmark 1965 Elementary & Secondary Education Act—Americans for the Arts has been covering developments and sharing opportunities to impact reauthorization with arts advocates. You might recall our post last December!

Since then, we have been helping provide tools and resources to states and locals, as the U.S. Department of Education (USED) has been working to implement the new law. 

Most recently, on November 28, 2016, USED released final regulations pertaining to state accountability plans. These plans come after extensive public comments (more than 21,000), including comments Americans for the Arts filed with 51 national and state organizations.

USED fully adopted our recommendations to make clear that the “arts” are statutorily part of a well-rounded education. This corrects an omission in the initial proposed regulations and importantly reaffirms the clear intent of Congress. Not only did the U.S. Senate report language clarify that the term “arts” is meant to encompass all forms and disciplines of the arts, including “the subjects of dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts, and other arts disciplines as determined by the State or local educational agency,” but arts was also included in the definition of a well-rounded education, along with 17 other subjects.


The final regulations now include “arts” in the list of subjects included in a well-rounded education. USED stated, “The proposed regulations inadvertently omitted ‘arts’ from the list of subjects in § 299.19(a)(1)(ii). We are revising the final regulations to correct this omission.”


There are also a number of additional clarifications concerning well-rounded education, including statements that USED “agrees that access to a well-rounded education is a key goal supported by the ESEA…”.

Read more about these clarifications in this memo to the field.

This final release should help boost state and local advocates’ efforts in ensuring access to a quality, well-rounded education that includes the arts for all. Implementation strategies around these issues will be a popular topic at the State Policy Symposium on March 18 in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Arts Education Partnership, Education Commission on the States, the Kennedy Center, and Americans for the Arts.

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