Feast or Famine: A Week of Arts Education Research & Recommendations

Posted by Tim Mikulski, May 06, 2011 1 comment

Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

As previewed by Marete Wester last week on ARTSblog, this week has been chock full of data and recommendations from our own organization's National Arts Policy Roundtable (NAPR); the U.S. Department of Education's first look at national arts education from 2009-2010; and the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) recommendations for the field.

The PCAH report, released today, seeks to put into practice President Obama's campaign commitment to arts education as the committee has spent the past 18 months assessing the status of the subject, conducting research, and identifying ways to improve and advance arts education.

Their report offers five recommendations to "clarify the position of the arts in a comprehensive, well-rounded K-12 education that is appropriate for all students; unify and focus efforts to expand arts education offerings to underserved students and communities; and, strengthen the evidence base for high-quality arts education."

PCAH recommends the following:

1. Build collaborations among different approaches - "move beyond internal debates in the arts education field about modes of delivery of arts instruction in order to address more pressing issues of equitable access and infusing more schools with a creativity-rich environment." 

2. Develop the field of arts integration - "through strengthening teacher preparation and professional development, targeting available arts funding, and setting up mechanisms for sharing ideas about arts integration through communities of practice."

3. Expand in-school opportunities for teaching artists - "in partnership with arts specialists and classroom teachers, through sustained engagements in schools."

4. Utilize federal and state policies to reinforce the place of arts in K-12 education - "provide policy guidance for employing the arts to increase the rigor of curriculum, strengthen teacher quality, and improve low-performing schools."

5. Widen the focus of evidence gathering about arts education - "there is room to expand the systematic data gathering about the arts, specifically in developing creativity and enhancing engagement in school."

There is a lot more text to read in the full document (almost 80 pages worth), but you'll notice that PCAH's recommendations dovetail with our National Arts Policy Roundtable recommendations as they parallel two NAPR recommendations (creativity/21st century skills and public policy reform), while they work nicely in concert with the other two (forming more strategic alliances and more effective messaging).

The first look data from the U.S. Department of Education's Snapshot of Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 2009-10, is just a small sample of what will be made available later in the year, but it raises a few questions for the field.

One of Americans for the Arts' Arts Education Council members, Lynne Kingsley, addressed one of those concerns on behalf of the theater and dance community in a blog post yesterday - visual art and music programs have remained constant since the last FRSS report, but drama/theater and dance have dropped by large margins.

How can the field unite if two disciplines consistently fall by the wayside?

We have been waiting for the data included in the full FRSS report for ten years, unfortunately it will be several months before we will be able to view all of the data that was collected.

While still a historic week for arts education data and recommendations, it is now up to everyone from funders to local school board members to teaching artists to researchers to carryout these recommendations and in order to make an impact for arts education in every state, city, county, district, school, and classroom.

1 responses for Feast or Famine: A Week of Arts Education Research & Recommendations


May 06, 2011 at 7:56 pm

It's nice to see thoughtful recommendations emerging from several places, but what we need now is leadership that will call for an action agenda to tackle the issues identified, all of which have been advanced again and again over the last many years. By and large, people nod their head (or nod off) when hearning recommendations; they perk up when strategies and pathways, with specific and doable goals are articulated. I really wish we'd figure out how to gather the recommenders into on great big planning network.

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