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October 1, 2001
Vol. 59
No. 2

Research Link / The Status of Technology and the Arts

Are high-stakes tests and the standards movement in the United States having an impact on the amount of time that students spend on subjects outside the core curriculum? Has the status of art and technology changed?

Art: Moving Ahead

Elementary school teachers in North Carolina confirm that they are spending more time teaching reading, writing, and mathematics since the implementation of a statewide testing program. These teachers report that, on average, they spend about 400 minutes each week teaching reading, almost 300 minutes teaching mathematics, and only about 40 minutes each week teaching music or art (Jones et al., 1999).
Some elementary schools may be paying less attention to the arts, but a study of high school transcripts reveals that U.S. high school students are enrolling in arts classes at an increasing rate (Roey et al., 2001). In 1998, more than half (52.7 percent) of U.S. high school graduates earned credits in visual arts courses as opposed to only 44 percent in 1982. Further, two-thirds of states have made art courses part of their high school graduation requirements. As a result, the percentage of high school graduates earning any type of art credit—in art, music, dance, or drama—rose from 55 percent in 1982 to 69 percent in 1998.
  • Listening to music and spatial-temporal reasoning;
  • Learning to play music and spatial reasoning; and
  • Classroom drama and verbal skills.

Technology: Not Keeping Up

The participation of high school students in technology courses does not parallel the widespread use of technology in society. In 1998, 34.3 percent of high school graduates had not received credits in computer-related studies, and another 23.8 percent only had up to one-half credit in this area. Those students who elected to take technology courses, however, took an increasing number of them. In 1987, high school graduates who took technology courses earned an average of 0.49 credits; in 1998, graduates with these courses on their transcripts earned an average of 0.75 credits. The changing content of the course offerings in technology might account for the increased participation of these students. Multimedia computer applications, desktop computer application suites, and Web suite design and development courses have replaced such traditional offerings as computers in business and data processing (Wirt et al., 1999).
Two factors might explain the apparent lack of interest in technology courses. First, most states do not require technology courses for graduation, and such courses are missing from most elementary education and high school college preparatory programs (Gilberti, 1999). Second, teachers may not be prepared to teach these courses. A federal report (Wirt et al., 2001) disclosed that although computers and the Internet have transformed business and research in the United States, most public school teachers do not yet feel prepared to use these technologies. In 1999, only about 10 percent of public school teachers reported feeling very well prepared, and 23 percent reported feeling well prepared to use computers or the Internet for instruction. The majority (53 percent) reported feeling somewhat prepared, and 13 percent reported feeling not at all prepared. Teachers identified several barriers to using technology, including a shortage of computers, a lack of release time to learn how to use computers or the Internet, and a lack of scheduled time for students to use computers in class.
In research on the preparation that teachers need to use technology in the classroom, Chandra Orrill (2001) concluded that professional development programs should offer easily accessible resources, opportunities to reflect on instruction, and one-on-one work with a trainer.
The impact of student participation in arts and technology courses in the era of accountability is mixed. Whereas high school enrollment in the arts is at an 18-year peak, enrollment in technology courses has not kept pace with society's transformation by new technology. In both cases, many factors contribute to student selection of these courses, but accountability testing may not be one of these considerations.

Gilberti, A. (1999, September). Why technology should be integrated into the curriculum as a core subject. National Association of School Principals Bulletin, 83(608), 1–15.

Harvard Project Zero. (2000). The arts and academic improvement: What the evidence shows [Executive Summary]. Cambridge, MA: Author. Available:

Jones, G., Jones, B., Hardin, B., Chapman, L., Yarbrough, T., & Davis, M. (1999, November). The impact of high-stakes testing on teachers and students in North Carolina. Phi Delta Kappan, 81(3), 199–203.

Orrill, C. (2001). Building technology-based, learner-centered classrooms: The evolution of a professional development framework. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(1), 15–31.

Roey, S., et al. (2001). The 1998 high school transcript study tabulations (NCES 2001-498). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Available:

Wirt, J., et al. (1999). The condition of education, 1999. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Available:

Wirt, J., et al. (2001). The condition of education, 2001 (NCES 2001-072). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Available:

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