RAND study shows creative collaborative approaches

June 19, 2008

Amid cutbacks in school arts education funding, public and private organizations in six urban regions have collaborated to expand access to arts learning for children in and outside of public school, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

The initiatives -- in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles County, New York City and Alameda County in Northern California -- have experienced varying degrees of progress, the study finds. But all serve as examples of how organizations that pool resources and coordinate activities can make it possible for more children to benefit from arts learning.

The study was commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and conducted by RAND, a non-profit research organization.

"Arts education in public schools has been a low priority for the last 30 years," said Susan Bodilly, director of RAND Education and the study's lead author. "But the results of our study demonstrate that, with the right leadership and the collaborative efforts of public and private organizations, children can enjoy the many benefits of arts education."

"We believe every child -- and our broader society -- benefits from high-quality arts learning and that arts education deserves a secure place in our communities," said Edward Pauly, director of research and evaluation at The Wallace Foundation. "Arts learning can enhance a child's ability to 'learn how to learn'; it can develop skills of persistence and teamwork; it can enhance the school experience for students -- sustaining their interest and enthusiasm for learning; and it can nurture empathy and foster imagination through experiences that the arts uniquely provide."

The study finds that many trends -- including cuts resulting from state and local budget problems to the emphasis of the No Child Left Behind Act on reading and math -- have sharply reduced the number of arts teaching positions and the time available during the school day for arts courses.

The arts initiatives studied by RAND had one to 10 years of experience. Researchers identified four distinct patterns of leadership, organization and provision among the six urban regions: Five of the communities began work by conducting audits or surveys to assess the state of arts education in the schools or the community. The audits uncovered inequities in each case, which helped to galvanize support for arts education initiatives.

Additionally, five of the programs aimed to provide access for all students primarily during the school day, with some of them initially focused on elementary school children.

Five of the six communities also focused on attracting and leveraging funding and resources. In Los Angeles County, 10 to 15 organizations each year contribute to a pooled fund created by the arts education initiative, Arts for All, and meet quarterly to determine spending priorities.

"Taken together, the strategies of conducting audits, leveraging funding, increasing capacity for providing quality arts learning experiences, and engaging in coordinated advocacy efforts has provided great momentum in these regions for improving access to quality arts learning experiences," said co-author Catherine Augustine, a behavioral scientist at RAND.

Researchers also found that each effort successfully placed an arts education coordinator within the central office of the school district. Rather than follow the traditional approach of hiring a teacher to serve as a part-time coordinator, the districts either had, or were in the process of securing, a senior full-time coordinator. The coordinator's responsibilities include advocating for arts education and ensuring its place in the school district's core curriculum.

"Ultimately, the study makes clear the importance of strong leaders developing collaborative efforts to unite a network of organizations -- schools, cultural institutions, community-based organizations, foundations, business and government agencies -- to make arts education in public schools a reality," Bodilly said.

The study concludes that efforts to promote arts education are fragile, particularly in the face of changes in policy and political leadership, shortages in funding and other resources, and reduced time in the school day.

"Because research links early arts exposure to participation later in life, arts education plays a vital role in ensuring America has a robust cultural life in the future," Pauly said. "Its absence over the long term would be a great loss."
-end-
The full report, "Revitalizing Arts Education Through Community-Wide Coordination," and a report summary are available at www.rand.org.

RAND Education, a division of the RAND Corporation, is a leader in providing objective, high-quality research and analysis on educational challenges that is used to improve educational access, quality and outcomes in the United States and throughout the world.

The Wallace Foundation is an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing effective ideas and practices that expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people. Its three current objectives are: strengthening education leadership to improve student achievement; improving out-of-school learning opportunities; and building appreciation and demand for the arts. The Foundation maintains an online library of research reports and other publications that may be downloaded free of charge at: www.wallacefoundation.org.The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world. To sign up for RAND e-mail alerts: http://www.rand.org/publications/email.html

RAND Corporation

Related Learning Articles from Brightsurf:

Learning the language of sugars
We're told not to eat too much sugar, but in reality, all of our cells are covered in sugar molecules called glycans.

When learning on your own is not enough
We make decisions based on not only our own learning experience, but also learning from others.

Learning more about particle collisions with machine learning
A team of Argonne scientists has devised a machine learning algorithm that calculates, with low computational time, how the ATLAS detector in the Large Hadron Collider would respond to the ten times more data expected with a planned upgrade in 2027.

Getting kids moving, and learning
Children are set to move more, improve their skills, and come up with their own creative tennis games with the launch of HomeCourtTennis, a new initiative to assist teachers and coaches with keeping kids active while at home.

How expectations influence learning
During learning, the brain is a prediction engine that continually makes theories about our environment and accurately registers whether an assumption is true or not.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

Learning is optimized when we fail 15% of the time
If you're always scoring 100%, you're probably not learning anything new.

School spending cuts triggered by great recession linked to sizable learning losses for learning losses for students in hardest hit areas
Substantial school spending cuts triggered by the Great Recession were associated with sizable losses in academic achievement for students living in counties most affected by the economic downturn, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Lessons in learning
A new Harvard study shows that, though students felt like they learned more from traditional lectures, they actually learned more when taking part in active learning classrooms.

Learning to look
A team led by JGI scientists has overhauled the perception of inovirus diversity.

Read More: Learning News and Learning Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.