Source: “Earlychildhood News: The Professional Resource for Teachers and Parents”

“Take Time for Art's Sake!”

By Kathreen Francis

Children are born artists, dancers and storytellers! They are naturally creative and enjoy all kinds of artistic expression: story-telling, music, dramatic play, dance and visual arts. Even babies and toddlers are capable of appreciating aesthetic experiences at a very young age; many babies demonstrate a preference for certain music, textures, colors and shapes over others. They are absorbed by images in books and express delight over music - even the most informal contact with creative media generates a positive response in children. It is our joyful responsibility to add meaning to these experiences and expand these artistic opportunities so that a child’s understanding of and love for the visual and performing arts is nurtured. As their knowledge and experience grows, research has show that so will their self-confidence, literacy skills, social skills and problem solving ability. Through the arts, a lifetime appreciation of creative expression will begin to develop.

A Harris Poll taken in 2005 measured American’s attitudes toward arts education and found that an astounding 93% agreed that the arts are a vital part of a well-rounded education, while 86% believed that children’s attitudes toward school are improved by a good arts education. More than half - 54% - rated the importance of arts education a “10” on a one-to-ten scale. Head Start, state school boards, No Child Left Behind requirements, teachers, and researchers all recommend quality arts education. Arts education funding is oftentimes tight, with programming sacrificed for those subjects considered more "academic." Student populations of economically disadvantaged areas are especially at risk, generally leaving them with the fewest opportunities to benefit from the arts.

The arts should not be perceived as a flimsy elective, nor should it be reduced to coloring books and paint by numbers for the youngest children. By almost every measure, children who have the opportunity to study the arts are happier, more self-confident and more likely to academically outperform those who don’t. Research has demonstrated repeatedly that the arts can enhance children’s experiences in almost every social and academic standard of achievement. The College Board Profile of SAT and Achievement Test Takers demonstrated that students with four or more years of arts study outperformed their peers by an average of 59 points on the verbal portion and 44 points on the math portion on the SAT. Employers appreciate workers who have excellent communication skills, can think creatively and can proficiently engage in problem solving. All of these skills can be fully developed and finely tuned with the study of the arts.


Source: MENC—The National Association for Music Education, 2002.

"Music Education Facts and Figures"

“Every student in the nation should have an education in the arts.” This is the opening statement of “The Value and Quality of Arts Education: A Statement of Principles,” a document from the nation’s ten most important educational organizations, including the American Association of School Administrators, the National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association, and the National School Boards Association.

The basic statement is unlikely to be challenged by anyone involved in education. In the sometimes harsh reality of limited time and funding for instruction, however, the inclusion of the arts in every student’s education can sometimes be relegated to a distant wish rather than an exciting reality.

The benefits conveyed by music education can be grouped in four categories:

When presented with the many and manifest benefits of music education, officials at all levels should universally support a full, balanced, sequential course of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. And every student will have an education in the arts.



Key Policy Letters Signed by the Education Secretary or Deputy Secretary

July 2004

Dear Superintendent:

As I am sure you know, the arts are a core academic subject under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). I believe the arts have a significant role in education both for their intrinsic value and for the ways in which they can enhance general academic achievement and improve students' social and emotional development.

As I travel the country, I often hear that arts education programs are endangered because of No Child Left Behind. This message was echoed in a recent series of teacher roundtables sponsored by the Department of Education. It is both disturbing and just plain wrong.

It's disturbing not just because arts programs are being diminished or eliminated, but because NCLB is being interpreted so narrowly as to be considered the reason for these actions. The truth is that NCLB included the arts as a core academic subject because of their importance to a child's education. No Child Left Behind expects teachers of the arts to be highly qualified, just as it does teachers of English, math, science, and history.

The Value of the Arts

The arts, perhaps more than any other subject, help students to understand themselves and others, whether they lived in the past or are living in the present. President Bush recognizes this important contribution of the arts to every child's education. He has said, "From music and dance to painting and sculpting, the arts allow us to explore new worlds and to view life from another perspective." In addition, they "encourage individuals to sharpen their skills and abilities and to nurture their imagination and intellect."

A comprehensive arts education may encompass such areas as the history of the arts, the honing of critical analysis skills, the re-creation of classic as well as contemporary works of art, and the expression of students' ideas and feelings through the creation of their own works of art. In other words, students should have the opportunity to respond to, perform, and create in the arts.


Source: USA TODAY, 05/19/2002 -

Study: Arts education has academic effect

By Tamara Henry,

WASHINGTON — Schoolchildren exposed to drama, music and dance may do a better job at mastering reading, writing and math than those who focus solely on academics, says a report by the Arts Education Partnership.

"Notions that the arts are frivolous add-ons to a serious curriculum couldn't be further from the truth," says James Catterall, education professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, who coordinated the research.

The report is based on an analysis of 62 studies of various categories of art — ranging from dance, drama, music and visual arts — by nearly 100 researchers. It's the first to combine all the arts and make comparisons with academic achievement, performance on standardized tests, improvements in social skills and student motivation.

Catterall says the studies suggest that arts education may be especially helpful to poor students and those in need of remedial instruction.

The report took two years to produce, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Department of Education.

Expanding the mind

The Arts Education Partnership, arguing for the importance of arts in schools, says various art forms benefit students in different ways:

Drama. Helps with understanding social relationships, complex issues and emotions; improves concentrated thought and story comprehension.

Music. Improves math achievement and proficiency, reading and cognitive development; boosts SAT verbal scores and skills for second-language learners.

Dance. Helps with creative thinking, originality, elaboration and flexibility; improves expressive skills, social tolerance, self-confidence and persistence.

Visual arts. Improve content and organization of writing; promote sophisticated reading skills and interpretation of text, reasoning about scientific images and reading readiness.

Multi-arts (combination of art forms). Helps with reading, verbal and math skills; improves the ability to collaborate and higher-order thinking skills.


A 2000 study of the correlation between arts and academics by Project Zero's project REAP (Reviewing Education and the Arts Project) which was supported by The Bauman Foundation found causal links in three distinct areas:

  1. Listening to Music and Spatial-Temporal Reasoning
  2. Learning to Play Music and Spatial Reasoning
  3. Classroom Drama and Verbal Skills
Project Zero is a Harvard University initiative begun by Dr. Howard Gardner, credited with developing the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, perhaps the most transformative theory in education put forth in the last 20 years.

SAT Score Charts

Student SAT scores by years of high school Art study


Students with any art study at all scored well above those with no art study on both math and verbal SAT tests, and those who had 4 years of art study were scoring well above the mean SAT score for all students.

Source: The College Board, Profile of SAT and Achievement Test Takers, for 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993.

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