Giving Compass’ Take:
• A new study shows that schools who participated in the Houston Arts Access Initiative which promotes arts education programs found that these students improved their writing skills after participating.
• Can Houston make this initiative accessible to more schools so that all students can have the opportunity to engage in arts education programs? How could donors potentially help expand arts programs?
• Read about how arts education helps train tomorrow’s workforce.
When you’re the big fish, it’s not OK to pick on the little fish just because you can.
That’s an important lesson for everyone. But some Houston first-graders got a particularly vivid demonstration in the form of a musical puppet show, which featured fish puppets and an underlying message about why it’s wrong to bully others.
The show left an impression on the students at Codwell Elementary, according to their teacher Shelea Bennett. “You felt like you were in that story,” she said. “By the end of the story they were able to answer why [bullying] wasn’t good, and why you shouldn’t act this way.”
The puppeteer’s show was part of an effort to expand arts education in Houston elementary and middle schools. Now, a new study shows that the initiative helped students in a few ways: boosting students’ compassion for their classmates, lowering discipline rates, and improving students’ scores on writing tests.
It’s just the latest study to find that giving students more access to the arts offers measurable benefits. And adding time for dance, theater, or visual arts isn’t at odds with traditional measures of academic success, according to the research — which amounts to one of the largest gold-standard studies on arts education ever conducted.
The study, released Tuesday through the Houston Education Research Consortium, looked at elementary and middle schools — which predominantly served low-income students of color — that expressed interest in participating in Houston’s Arts Access Initiative. There appeared to be significant need: nearly a third of elementary and middle schools in the district reported lacking a full-time arts teacher.
The positive effects on writing test scores, discipline, and compassion were small to moderate. Students’ disciplinary infraction rates, for instance, fell by 3.6 percentage points. But these results are particularly encouraging because the cost to schools was fairly small — about $15 per student.
Read the full article about arts education by Matt Barnum at Chalkbeat
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