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December 1, 2018
Vol. 76
No. 4

Research Alert / Evidence for Arts Integration

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    Curriculum
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      Many educators wonder how they can bring appreciation of fine arts and practice engaging in the arts to all students. Getting to that point often involves providing evidence to the "powers that be" that teaching the arts helps students thrive and achieve.
      A recent review of evidence carried out by American Institutes for Research (AIR) should help. The study provides evidence that practicing arts integration in a school positively affects students' outcomes in several academic areas, in addition to improving attendance, behavior, and social skills. In fact, according to the report, findings from 44 studies of arts-integration programs meet the stringent criteria that the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) uses to determine whether an intervention is "evidence-based."
      While providing classes dedicated to music, visual arts, and other arts (so-called "specials") is an important way to get art into the school day, arts integration—"purposefully connecting concepts and skills from the arts and other subjects," according to AIR's study—offers a valuable way both to ensure all kids encounter the arts and to enrich academic studies. Arts integration can include strategies like using drama techniques to support literacy instruction, incorporating visual arts resources into instructional materials, and employing specialized software programs that feature music, images, and movement.
      AIR's review identified 135 studies of arts-integration interventions used in schools. In 44 of the 135 studies, participating students improved in an academic area or in a learning outcome like "attitudes toward math," "critical thinking," or "tolerance." Tables highlight specific arts-integration programs studied and the academic areas in which each program improved. The report also identifies funding streams under ESSA that states, districts, and schools can leverage to fund arts integration.
      "Review of Evidence: Arts Integration Research Through the Lens of the Every Student Succeeds Act" is available at American Institutes for Research 's website.

      EL’s experienced team of writers and editors produces Educational Leadership magazine, an award-winning publication that reaches hundreds of thousands of K-12 educators and leaders each year. Our work directly supports the mission of ASCD: To empower educators to achieve excellence in learning, teaching, and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. 

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