Arts Education in America: What the Declines Mean for Arts Education
Participation in arts education has declined steadily since the 1980s—long before our current recession and before NCLB, according to this National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) report, and minority children have been hit hardest: In 2008, only 26 percent of African American students reported receiving any arts education (down from 51 percent in 1982); Hispanic youngsters were at 28 percent (down from 47 percent in 1982). These figures take on greater magnitude when linked to the growing body of research that shows arts education as an effective pathway to deeper engagement and success in school—and with higher levels of student achievement, positive social and emotional development, and successful transition to adulthood. The most recent NAEP arts assessment (which assessed eighth graders in 2008) adds more depth to these findings. While the NAEP saw no differences in opportunities for arts instruction among racial groups, it did find that only 57 percent of schools offered music instruction three times a week, and 47 percent offered visual arts instruction with the same frequency. Neither methodology is perfect (the NEA uses a retrospective student survey and the NAEP only gathered data on school offerings—not on student participation). But both remind us of one key point: Especially in our era of austerity and testing, arts education is at risk and needs protecting.
Nick Rabkin and E.C. Hedberg, “Arts Education In America: What the Declines Mean for Arts Participation” (Washington, D.C.: National Endowment for the Arts, February 2011).
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