Music and art haven’t disappeared from schools, despite the pressures of test-based accountability and fears of curriculum narrowing, according to a federal report by the National Center for Education Statistics. Music and visual arts instruction is widely available and has changed little over the past decade, the report concluded.
Music and visual-arts instruction are more widely available at high-poverty elementary schools, but less available at high-poverty secondary schools, notes Ed Week.
“When I look at the big picture, … I see a good-news, bad-news story,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in prepared remarks for the report’s release . . .
“The good news is that the last decade has not generally produced a dramatic narrowing of the curriculum in the arts,” he said. “But there is considerable bad news in today’s report, too—and especially for disadvantaged students.”
“Generally, what we really found is there is no consistent trend of decline in arts education in public schools,” said Jared Coopersmith, a project officer at the NCES.
“At-risk” students involved in the arts — in or out of school — do better in school, go farther in college and are more civics minded, according to a National Endowment for the Arts report. “Access to the arts” included “coursework in music, dance, theater, or the visual arts; out-of-school arts lessons; or membership, participation, and leadership in arts organizations and activities, such as band or theater.”
However, the report didn’t answer the chicken/egg question: Do the arts create achievers or attract them?