Why is arts learning so unique in its impact?

Nurturing creativity through arts education develops skills and attributes that cannot be replicated through other experiences. Children who are sequentially educated in the arts have a better chance of becoming innovative, critical thinkers who are comfortable adapting from mistakes.

A standard, Pre-K-12 curriculum that includes arts education fosters well-rounded graduates who enter college and the workforce with creative skills and a competitive edge.

Arts learning is essential to student success.

What the research tells us….

In the Conference Board report, Ready to Innovate (2008), when asked to name the educational experiences that are indicators of creativity, school superintendents ranked arts study as the highest indicator of creativity. But there has been a gap between understanding this need for creative learning and putting it into meaningful practice.

This year, IBM commissioned a Global CEO Study in which they interviewed over 1500 CEOs, from large and small companies in 60 countries, representing 33 different industries.  They asked these CEOs what is the most important leadership competency needed to manage in an increasingly complex world.  The top answer, by far:  CREATIVITY.

The arts don’t own creativity, but they support and nurture it in unique and important ways.  By including the arts, schools can ensure that students get a balanced and well-rounded education that addresses their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive growth.

For more than a decade, credible research has been available that demonstrates consistently better outcomes for students highly involved in the arts: better grades, less likelihood of dropping out, and more positive attitudes about school. The studies also show that the benefits of high levels of arts participation makes the greatest difference for economically disadvantaged students.

As a matter of social justice, we need to make sure that this benefit is provided to all students, not just those who can afford it. Together, our efforts will ensure that all students receive the benefits of arts learning: learning that is rigorous, relevant and relationship-based.

We recommend Critical Evidence as a must-read summary of the top research.

Read more on our Research page.

This was posted in the category Q&A's.
  • ArtsEd Washington was at the heart of the action this week as ED Una McAlinden facilitated the creation of a concrete and specific arts vision for the Seattle Public Schools Central Pathway (the K-12 schools in the Washington Middle School service area). Principals from all the schools within this pathway came together with parents and teachers under the leadership of their Executive Director of Schools, Nancy Coogan, committed to improving the provision of arts learning for the students they serve. The team used a racial equity lens to examine arts access data for their pathway as a whole, considered the key components of a high quality arts program, and participated in arts learninSup. Banda SPSg. Given the recent shift from school choice to neighborhood schools in Seattle, this was the first time that the leaders from a K-12 pathway have planned the provision of a continuum of learning together, and it also marked the launch of the SPS districtwide K-12 Arts Plan.

    Superintendent Banda (pictured) joined the group to celebrate the vision and spoke passionately in support of the social justice which requires that this work continues. Congratulations to these leaders for all their work!


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