Research shows…

RESEARCH – DATA     Arts Education

Did you know that young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours, three days a week for a year are: 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools, and 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair?


First graders who received instruction in music listening had significantly higher reading scores than those first graders who did not receive the instruction but were similar in age, IQ and socioeconomic status. The same teacher taught reading to all the students. Those given music instruction were taught for 40 minutes a day for 7 months and learned to recognize melodic and rhythmic elements in folk songs. They scored in the 88th percentile for reading performance and the non-instructed control group scored in the 72nd percentile.

source: Educational Leadership, November, 1998, p. 38
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
article: “The Music in Our Minds”
Norman M. Weinberger, Professor of Psychobiology at the University of California, Irvine, referencing research of Hurwitz et al, 1975, Journal of Learning Disabilities, 8, 45–51


Second grade students given piano instruction in addition to spatial reasoning instruction improved more in spatial reasoning than those given spatial reasoning instruction only, English language training instead of piano, or no special instruction.

source: Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development, 2002, p. 110
study: Enhanced Learning of Proportional Math Through Music Training and Spatial-Temporal Training


Imaginative play, coached by a teacher, enhances important learning abilities that help kindergarten children make physical and social sense of the world around them.

source: Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development, 2002, pp. 24–25
study: Role of Imaginative Play in Cognitive Development


At-risk first grade students who were taught basic letter and sound connections through improvisational movement improved more in those basic reading skills than did the control group of similarly at-risk students. “The development of linguistic abilities mirrors the development of dance phrase making…dance can help children discover the ‘music’ of language.”

source: Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development, 2002, p. 10
study: The Impact of Whirlwind’s Basic Reading Through dance Program on First Grade Students’ Basic Reading Skills: Study II


At-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school also tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement, according to a new NEA report, The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies. – See more at:

Teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic (SES) status who have a history of in-depth arts involvement (“high arts”) show better academic outcomes than low-SES youth with less arts involvement (“low arts”). They earn better grades and have higher rates of college enrollment and attainment.

  • Low-SES students who had arts-rich experiences in high school were ten percent more likely to complete a high school calculus course than low-SES students with low arts exposure (33 percent versus 23 percent).
  •  High-arts, low-SES students in the eighth grade were more likely to have planned to earn a bachelor’s degree (74 percent) than were all students (71 percent) or low-arts, low-SES students (43 percent).
  • High-arts, low-SES students were 15 percent more likely to enroll in a highly or moderately selective four-year college than low-arts, low-SES students (41 percent versus 26 percent).
  • Students with access to the arts in high school were three times more likely than students who lacked those experiences to earn a bachelor’s degree (17 percent versus five percent).
  • When it comes to participating in extracurricular activities in high school, high-arts, low-SES students are much more likely also to take part in intramural and interscholastic sports, as well as academic honor societies, and school yearbook or newspaper — often at nearly twice or three times the rate of low-arts, low-SES students.

Higher career goals — There is a marked difference between the career aspirations of young adults with and without arts backgrounds.

  • High-arts, low-SES college students had the highest rates of choosing a major that aligns with a professional career, such as accounting, education, nursing, or social sciences (30 percent), compared to low-arts, low-SES students (14 percent) and the overall SES sample (22 percent).
  • Half of all low-SES adults with arts-rich backgrounds expected to work in a professional career (such as law, medicine, education, or management), compared to only 21 percent of low-arts, low-SES young adults.

More civically engaged – Young adults who had intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults who did not, with 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.

  • High-arts, low-SES eighth graders were more likely to read a newspaper at least once a week (73 percent) compared to low-arts, low-SES students (44 percent) and the overall SES sample (66 percent).
  • High-arts, low-SES young adults reported higher volunteer rates (47 percent) than the overall sample and low-arts, low-SES young adults (43 and 26 percent respectively).
  • High-arts, low-SES young adults voted in the 2004 national election at a rate of 45 percent, compared to 31 percent of low-arts, low-SES young adults.

The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studieswas prepared for the National Endowment for the Arts by James S. Catterall, University of California Los Angeles, with Susan A. Dumais, Louisiana State University, and Gillian Hampden-Thompson, University of York, U.K.

– See more at:


Visual arts teaches students that problems can have more than one solution, and questions can have more than one answer. Unlike academic curriculums in which correct answers and rules prevail, art is based on observational judgment rather than a scantron.   Indira Bailey June 2013


National Symphony Orchestra News

The National Symphony Orchestra conducts a Summer Music Institute in Washington, D.C every year.  We urge music teachers to watch our website for the spring announcement of 2015 NSO Summer Institute applications and have their students apply to attend this unique summer  music institute offering.  Juhwan Seo, celloist and a senior at Lake Oswego High School in Lake Oswego, and Emily Wu, violinist and sophomore at Westview High School in Portland, were Oregon’s two institute participants the summer of 2014.


New Arts Education Research from the College Board Informs Oregon’s Arts Standards Revisiting

The College Board, composed of more than 5,900 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations, is an internationally recognized institution dedicated to measuring and improving student abilities and achievement.  It has just released two new research reports designed to support the revision of the National Arts Education Standards, as well as OAAE’s project, “The Oregon Partnership for Arts Learning Standards” (OPALS). Go to and look under “resources” at the bottom of the page,  for the multiple College Board Research and resulting Reports.

SEADAE has released the Whitepaper on roles and Responsibilities of Arts Educators 

The State Education Agencies Departments of Arts Education (SEADAE) has released an Arts Education White Paper, promoting universal access to high-quality Arts Education. Roles of Certified Arts Educators, Certified Non-Arts Educators, & Providers of Supplemental Arts Instruction.  This paper has been endorsed by Rachel Goslins, Executive Director of The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and is the work of the State Education Agency Directors Arts Education or SEADAE. Should you have questions, please contact Marcia McCaffrrey, for SEADAE, at [email protected]  or Nancy Carr in Oregon at [email protected].

Revised National Arts Standards

Do you know about the revisioned national arts standards?  They are being written as this blog is being written.  The public review for grades K-8 will be out late June/early July.  Look to for more information on the national work.