Arts Education Talking Points

Arts Education Quick Facts

Arts education is the law in Washington state.

  • Arts education, as defined by Washington state law, includes all four disciplines: dance, music, theater, and visual art.
  • Arts education is not an optional enrichment activity. In accordance with the Basic Education Act, arts education is a mandated core subject and required to be taught in Washington state schools.
  • Despite this mandate, in Washington state, ¾ of elementary students receive only two hours or less of arts education each week.

Arts learning is essential to success in school, work and life.

  • Learning in and through the arts supports an understanding across multiple academic disciplines, supporting overall school engagement. The arts nurture the critical thinking and complex problem solving that are essential in fostering a deeper understanding by applying knowledge, and making meaning of the material, rather than just memorizing.
  • Credible research has demonstrated consistently better outcomes for students highly involved in the arts including better grades, less likelihood of dropping out, and more positive attitudes about school. These same studies show that high levels of arts participation make the greatest difference for economically disadvantaged students.

Arts education should be provided fairly to all students.

  • Curriculum and instruction in the arts must be provided during regular school hours and build on learning each year, in the same way that teaching and learning happens in other core subjects.
  • Schools integrating the arts are better positioned to address achievement gaps, while schools without the arts are perpetuating educational inequities, denying students proven pathways to success.

Creative attributes are the cornerstone for achievement in the 21st Century.

  • In Washington State, creative occupations between 2006-2008 increased by 2.5%, and 100,000 creative sector jobs were reported in 2008.
  • Companies are seeking innovative employees who have the ability to imagine new services, create new opportunities, and develop inventive solutions to solve problems.
  • A Global CEO Study (6) commissioned this year by IBM found that more than 1,500 CEOs from large and small companies in 60 countries, representing 33 different industries, noted as their top answer that the most most important leadership competency needed to manage in an increasingly complex world was CREATIVITY.

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1 RCW 28A.150.210 – Basic Education Act (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=28A.150.210 ).
2 Arts Education Research Initiative, 2009. Washington State Arts Commission (www.arts.wa.gov/education/aeri.shtml).
3 Critical Evidence, AEP (http://bit.ly/ekHVpt).
4 Creative Vitality Index (extracts), 2010, Washington State Arts Commission
5 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/opinion/21friedman.html.
6 http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/31670.wss.

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This was posted in the category Advocacy Tools.
  • It’s a win for every student and every school!

    State Board of Education Approves Increased Arts Requirements for High School Graduation The Board’s decision helped culminate a week-long national celebration of the arts, as schools, students, and communities [...]

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  • Check out Art Lessons in the Classroom

    ArtsEd Washington developed Art Lessons in the Classroom to provide visual art curriculum for elementary schools that is aligned with Washington state standards.This comprehensive and sequential visual arts curriculum provides an excellent foundation in visual arts concepts.

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  • Title I panel

    At the National Title I Conference in San Diego in early February, ArtsEd Washington presented on using the arts to improve student and school success with a panel of principals who used ArtsEd Washington’s Principals Arts Leadership (PAL) program to transform their own Title I schools. The Title I program aims to bridge the achievement gap between low-income students and other students by providing supplemental federal funding to underachieving schools to meet the needs of at-risk students.

    Three principals shared their experiences working with the PAL program in Title I schools including Tracye Ferguson (formerly of Franklin Elementary and now Director of Title I/Early Learning for Tacoma Public Schools), Alan Matsumoto (Garfield Elementary in Yakima), and Farah Thaxton (formerly of Madrona K-8 in Seattle). ArtsEd Washington Executive Director Una McAlinden moderated the panel as they offered their leadership perspective and insights on how arts learning and specifically the PAL program has helped them improve their schools and can impact students and schools statewide. The session was introduced with pride by Gayle Pauley, Title I Director of Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

    “Integrating arts education strategies in reading, mathematics, and the sciences is having a positive impact on the achievement of students who are struggling academically. Title I, Part A programs are demonstrating how this integration has a positive impact on student achievement,” said Pauley. “I am a musician myself and know first-hand the impact arts education has on student success.”

    Like many other schools across Washington State, Garfield, Madrona, and Franklin have used the PAL program to grow their arts capacities, impacting overall academic success, school culture, and student/family engagement. The panel shared their experiences in building effective arts plans, visions, and real world tactics to turn their schools into vibrant, successful places for their students to engage and learn. The session also covered tangible strategies to advance this instructional change and demonstrated a simple infrastructure for team-building, vision development, and planning for student success.

    “Including the arts in the school day improves student engagement, academic achievement, attendance, graduation rates, and overall success,” commented McAlinden. “The fact that our session was chosen for this national conference demonstrates the growing understanding among education leaders that the arts are a path to both student and school success.”

    The goal of the PAL program is to empower schools to create the fundamental systemic change that will ensure that the arts play a vital role in a complete education for all students, now and for years to come. PAL trains principals, as instructional leaders in all areas of curriculum, to expand their own capacities in arts leadership, to develop arts teams, visions, and plans, and to implement concrete strategies to integrate and sustain arts instruction for every student in every school.

    Thaxton’s experience at Madrona K-8, where more than three quarters of the students fall below the poverty line, demonstrated the remarkable impact of arts learning.  Citing more confident, engaged, and perseverant students at Madrona (which had limited arts offerings before she began work with the PAL program), Thaxton observes that the climate and culture of the school were transformed by the arts. She also sings the praises of the professional development she received through the program.

    Notes Thaxton, “It was one of the most focused professional development experiences I’ve had as a principal. PAL brought everybody’s voice together and was a key strategy in our success.”

    ArtsEd Washington is currently in the process of revamping the PAL program to be implemented at a district-wide level instead of the slower school-by-school approach. As part of the Creative Advantage, Seattle Public Schools has just begun implementation of PAL in its Central Pathway and will continue rollout to the whole district over the next few years.

    For more information, call 206-441-4501 or contact Una McAlinden at una@artsedwashington. 

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