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Volume 15, Number 6
November/December 1999

Making the Case for Arts in Schools


When young people are involved with the arts, something changes in their lives," reads the introduction to the newly released report, Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning. A collection of seven research studies by top arts-education scholars, Champions of Change aims to tell just what that something is and how the change comes about. In doing so, it offers an intriguing look at some successful arts programs. Some highlights:

  • Researchers from the Center for Arts Education Research at Columbia University’s Teachers College studied the artistic experiences of 2,046 public school students in grades 4 through 8. Using a combination of standardized tests, student questionnaires, surveys of teachers and school administrators, and classroom observation, the researchers found that students in "arts-intensive settings" showed more creativity and originality, better cooperation with teachers and other students, and more effective articulation of ideas and feelings than students in schools where the arts received little emphasis. Such students also showed more confidence in their study skills. The authors also write that when socioeconomic status was taken into account, "the results...were more firmly tied to rich arts provision than to high economic status," though they don’t elaborate on evidence to support that claim.

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