LOSING OUT IN THE ARTS-US STUDY
Engagement with the Arts helps the attainment and civic engagement of the most disadvantaged pupils
Are the Arts being crowded out?
Rocco Landesman, the Chairman National Endowment for the Arts (US), says that over the past four decades, budget pressures and an increasing focus on just reading and maths have crowded the arts out of too many school days. What’s lost? Landesman claims -The chance for a child to express himself. The chance for the idiosyncratic child who has not yet succeeded elsewhere to shine. A sense of play, of fun,of discovery. But, adds Landesman , James Catterall and the fellow authors of a new report on Arts and Achievement, have shown that something else is lost, too- potential.
Students who have arts-rich experiences in school in fact do better across-the-board academically, and they also become more active and engaged citizens, voting, volunteering, and generally participating at higher rates than their peers.
The reports key finding is that ‘Socially and economically disadvantaged children and teenagers who have high levels of arts engagement or arts learning show more positive outcomes in a variety of areas than their low-arts-engaged peers.’ They earn better grades and demonstrate higher rates of college enrolment and attainment.
At-risk teenagers or young adults with a history of intensive arts experiences show achievement levels closer to, and in some cases exceeding, the levels shown by the general population studied
Young adults who had intensive arts experiences in high school are also more likely to show civic-minded behaviour than young adults who did not. They take an interest in current affairs, as evidenced by comparatively high levels of volunteering, voting, and engagement with local or school politics. In many cases, this difference appears in both low- and high-SES groups
Most of the positive relationships between arts involvement and academic outcomes apply only to at-risk populations (low-SES). But positive relationships between arts and civic engagement are noted in high-SES groups as well.
The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies; James S. Catterall, University of California Los Angeles with Susan A. Dumais, Louisiana State University and Gillian Hampden-Thompson, University of York, U.K.