Art and music haven't vanished

The National Report Card on the Arts finds little change in eighth graders’ access to music or visual arts instruction from 1997 to 2008 or in their musical and artistic knowledge. From USA Today:

Gather up a group of eighth-graders, pop in a CD of George Gershwin’s seminal Rhapsody in Blue and turn up the volume.

Then ask: In those first few seconds, what keening, soaring, note-bending instrument do you hear?

When the federal government put this question to thousands of eighth-graders in 1997, only about half knew it was a clarinet. When they tried again last year, the results were the same.

Middle-school administrators polled as part of the tests say students are just as likely to have received regular instruction in music and arts in 2008 as in 1997. That suggests that No Child Left Behind, the federal effort begun in 2002 to increase the basic math and reading skills of children, may not have adversely affected middle schoolers’ instruction time in the arts, as many critics worried.

More students are getting regular music instruction, but fewer say they’ve gone on a field trip to an art museum or art show. On the other hand, 80 percent say they paint or draw regularly in school.

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  1. Margo/Mom says:

    There’s a lot of stuff circulated about NCLB that ain’t gospel.

  2. So interesting…definitely would not have guessed that.

  3. But the ability to identify a musical instrument isn’t key to appreciation of that music. These tests are sort of stupid. Appreciating a painting is possible without studying art history. And creating your own is different again.

  4. greifer says:

    but is it because Language Arts class now has an arts and crafts project rather than a book report?

  5. Notice elementary schools were carefully left out of this posting and the USA article.

  6. But the ability to identify a musical instrument isn’t key to appreciation of that music.

    But the test wasn’t about appreciation, it was about knowledge. To quote from the linked article:

    In the past decade or so, middle-schoolers have made little progress in how much they know about music and visual arts.

    [Emphasis mine]

    And I don’t think schools should be held responsible for teaching students to appreciate music and art in the sense of enjoying it. After all, I know that if my schools had tried to force me to enjoy a particular piece of music and art that I didn’t like, I would have ripped off a page of mindless praising adjectives and internally been even more confirmed in my dislike of it. Faking knowledge of music or art is far harder.

  7. Mike, NAEP tests only eighth-grade students in music and visual arts.

  8. Joanne,

    Your posting mentions polling of middle school administrators and the article claims kids aren’t being shortchanged in the arts. I’m asking the question then, were elementary school principals questioned?