The Arts and Dropout Prevention: The Power of Art to Engage, a new white paper from the National Dropout Prevention Network, demonstrates a direct and powerful relationship between an arts education and dropout prevention. Arts learning increases academic self-efficacy and keeps students engaged and in school. It improves academic outcomes, reduces suspensions, predicts higher levels of college attendance and graduation, and promotes desired personal characteristics.

Key findings of the report:

Arts education is a powerful tool that educators and policymakers can and should use more intentionally in the fight against high school dropout.

Impact: Social, Economic, and Academic

While there is support for the intrinsic value of developing cultural literacy and teaching artistic skills and techniques, leadership groups typically emphasize instrumental outcomes derived from high-quality arts education in one or more of the following categories:

  • Student achievement, typically as represented by reading and mathematics performance on high stakes tests, including the transfer of skills learning from the arts to learning in other academic areas—for example, the spatial-temporal reasoning skills developed by music instruction;
  • Student motivation and engagement, including improved attendance, persistence, focused attention, heightened educational aspirations, and intellectual risk-taking;
  • Development of habits of mind including problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, dealing with ambiguity and complexity, integration of multiple skill sets, and working with others;
  • The arts help to maintain attractive communities and thriving local economies.
  • Development of social competencies, including collaboration and teamwork skills, social tolerance, and self-confidence.