University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Arts and Education

In The View from the OEP on April 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm

You may have seen in a recent weekly news links blog a report from National Center for Education Statistics on the extent to which arts are a part of school curriculum in elementary and secondary schools across the state. The congressionally-mandated report calls into question the common concern that arts education is an endangered subject in the after-math of No Child Left Behind laws. The data suggests that music and visual arts instruction has changed little, and in fact, remains high. One troubling trend highlighted in the report is the discrepancies in arts education between high-poverty and low-poverty schools.

While the report should cause a sigh of relief, especially given the promising findings from a recent NEA Report, we have heard from a few OEP readers who are are a bit skeptical of the findings presented in this report. Grantmakers in the Arts summarized the concerns  in the organization’s press release. While music programs remain steady, some are concerned that visual arts programs are decreasing and very few schools offer programs like dance and drama or theater.

Furthermore, there are questions about the quality of arts programs in many schools.  While the NCES report doesn’t provide any hard data concerning to the quality of the music programs, many are concerned that the music and arts programs available in public schools today are not given the support and prioritization necessary to provide a high-quality arts education–despite the best  intentions of art teachers.

For those of you in the trenches in public schools, what do you think? Are the arts programs declining in quality or number in your district?

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