What’s happening to the arts in our schools?

Though the arts are recognized as a core academic subject in Washington State and across the nation, the level of K–12 arts education in our schools is often inadequate. Less time and attention are given to the arts compared to other core subjects; support and resources for teaching the arts varies widely from district to district and from school to school.

In January 2010, the Washington State Arts Commission released a new publication, K-12 Arts Education:  Every Student, Every School, Every Year, that is essential reading for anyone who is interested in the state of K-12 arts education in Washington State.

The Every Student booklet is based on a survey to K-12 principals conducted during the 2008-2009 school year. Principals responded from across the state – from 37 out of 39 Washington counties, and from schools representing 25% of the state’s student population. Their answers provide information on the frequency of arts instruction, who is providing instruction, varying levels of arts curriculum development, statistics on arts assessments, and much more. Researchers followed up with site visits to selected schools throughout the state to learn more about schools’ successes and challenges. Some of the survey findings include:

  • 63% of principals are dissatisfied with the quantity of arts education in their schools.
  • 33% of elementary students receive less than one hour per week of arts instruction
  • 34% of 8th graders attend a school where there is no instruction in visual art

In addition to information about the state of arts education in Washington, the publication includes context from external state and national arts education research, and identifies attributes of effective education practices, and suggestions for taking action for educators, parents, cultural organizations, and others.

K-12 Arts Education:  Every Student, Every School, Every Year is available online. Also on the website you will find the PDF of the full AERI Research Report, which contains extensive survey data, excerpts from interviews with principals, and a complete survey appendix. Use this quick overview to share in your circle of influence and get other excited about this important report!

As WSAC’s Cooperative Partner for Arts Education, ArtsEd Washington is delighted to have assisted with the development of the survey tool, encouragement of principals to contribute their data and the preparation of the publication materials. This data should be welcomed by all arts education advocates to help demonstrate the need for increased resources for and stakeholder collaboration around arts education.

This was posted in the category Q&A's.