Appendix B: Research

Research on arts impact on academic achievement

There is substantial research showing the positive effects of arts education on academic achievement, in particular for students from low socio-economic backgrounds. This was shown in schools with high arts participation and what they call arts rich schools: schools with a complete arts curriculum.

Some research discussed arts integration. This is where arts in infused across the curriculum. In schools that had both an arts class and arts integrated across the curriculum, the students outperformed others in schools focused primarily on one or the other. Teachers in these settings were also given more professional development which contributed to the positive effects on student achievement.

It was also suggested that extensive and deep involvement in arts activities showed a significant predictor of students’ later achievement and community involvement. Arts education had prosocial outcomes notwithstanding the positive effects on student achievement.

Overall, there is research that shows that arts education is in-line with 21st Century Learning Outcomes. These outcomes include: an integrated approach to learning/teaching; innovative skills building; creativity and critical thinking skills and collaboration. It is important to note that the research only shows correlations between arts education and academic achievement. It does not show causation.

Research Requirement Buckets

  1. Quality and Quantity of Arts Education
    • What’s already happening, where, how often/how many hours
    • Mandated by district or school driven
  2. The Gold Standard
    • What it is and examples that already exist
    • Best practices, min threshold of hours
  3. Arts Education Vs. Arts Exposure

  4. Arts Education Throughout CA and Other Cities
    • For schools/districts with strong arts programs, how have these schools/districts changed? What outcomes are they seeing?
    • What hurdles have others run into when building out arts education programs in schools?
    • How do the Sacramento-area districts vary in what arts education they offer?

Bucket 1a - Quality

The Qualities of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education

Quality arts education can best be understood by dissecting the experience into four components, each of which has key indicators for quality:

  1. Student Learning: what students are actually doing in the classroom, the kinds of projects and tasks they’re involved in, the focus and character of their engagement, the attitudes and mindsets they bring to the learning experience.
    • Engagement
    • Purposeful experiences creating or engaging with works of art
    • Emotional openness and honesty
    • Experimentation, exploration, and inquiry
    • Ownership
  2. Pedagogy: how teachers conceive of and practice their craft, how they conceptualize their role in the classroom, and how they design and implement instruction.
    • Authenticity
    • Modeling artistic processes, inquiry, and habits
    • Participation in the learning experience
    • Making learning relevant and connected to prior knowledge
    • Intentionality, flexibility, and transparency
  3. Community Dynamics: the social dimension of the relationships in the classroom or other arts learning setting, relationships among the students themselves, between students and teachers, and among the teachers and other adults who interact with students in the classroom.
    • Respect and trust among all participants, along with a belief in student capacities
    • Open communication
    • Collaboration
  4. Environment: the tangible and concrete elements, including the physical space of the classroom, the material resources available, as well as the time students are given (hours and years) to engage in arts learning.
    • Functional and aesthetic space and materials
    • The arts occupy a central place in the physical environment
    • Sufficient time for authentic artistic work

Bucket 1b - Quantity

SCUSD Needs Assessment (Oct 2015): Art not directly within needs identified

Stats for Sacramento:

  • 138 schools
  • 111,498 enrolled
  • 38,238 arts enrollment
  • 34% arts
  • 818 arts teachers
  • 139.3 (student/teacher ratio)
School District K-8 Students K-8 Teachers K-8 Schools Total Budget (millions)
Elk Grove 42,775 1,868 49 $655
Robla 2,162 96 5 $23.6
Sacramento City 33,700 1,466 58 $466.3
Twin Rivers 22,374 636 34 $301.7
  • A.M. Winn – No arts mentioned on website

  • Abraham Lincoln – Arts in mission statement; no specific reference in school reports

  • Einstein Elementary – Gifted & Talented
    • Art Studio (Mrs. Rodriguez)
    • Chorus (aka Glee Club) (Ms. Leriche)
    • Drumline
    • Makers Club (Mrs. Turkie)
    • Music (Ms. Zimny)
    • Theater
    • Poetry
  • Alice Birney Public Waldorf – Specialty subjects -
    • Some are taught by our classroom teachers, parent or community volunteers, and others by specialists in each area. These may include: Strings (Violin, Viola, Cello), Handwork (knitting, crocheting, needlework, sewing), Spanish Cultural Study, Movement/Eurhythmy, Multicultural Dance, Woodworking, Gardening, Athletics (basketball and track), Games, and Music/Flutes.
  • Bowling Green – Chacon Language and Science Academy
    • No mention of arts activities
  • Bowling Green Charter Elementary
    • Family Art Night
  • Caleb Greenwood elementary school:
    • GATE school
    • Missoula Children’s Theatre (Holly Deen –
    • STEAM program
  • California – Middle School
    • Academic programs:
    • Band, Drama, Art
  • Rosa Parks K-8 School
    • Very Special Arts
    • We also get tickets to art events (art exposures)

Bucket 2 - The Gold Standard

Comprehensive arts programs according to California VAPA framework

  1. Artistic perception
  2. Creative expression
  3. Historical and cultural context
  4. Aesthetic valuing
  5. Connections, relationships, and applications

Bucket 3 - Arts Education Vs. Arts Exposure

Ultimately, one is a by-product of the other. Countless research studies and documentation not only suggest but prove that learning outcomes dramatically increase with exposure to the arts. The phenomenon should be viewed holistically rather dissected. It’s not either or: arts education or arts exposure. For maximum impact, they walk in hand in hand.

However, for the purposes of our project, we must acknowledge the difference between the two so that we may focus on the core purpose, benefits, value, and importance of consistent arts education programs for K-8 grade students.



Arts education solves problems. Years of research show that it’s closely linked to academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

Americans for the Arts

Research shows impressive benefits of arts education on entire school culture—especially student motivation, attitudes, and attendance. Numerous reports discuss the ways that increased access and involvement in arts education encourage students to stay in school, succeed in school, succeed in life, and succeed in work.


Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill.

Daily Signal

In response to Obama’s “Educate to Innovate campaign, which included funding for more than 100k STEM teachers over the next decade, academic leaders agreed that “A” for “arts and humanities” should be added to create STEAM education.

Arts and humanities are just as an important dimension of educating students as are science, technology, engineering, and math.



Exposure equals Access. Culturally enriching experiences like the arts, not only produce educational benefits, but promote major gains in children’s confidence, persistence, collaboration, motivation, tolerance, empathy, and a greater sense of community.

The Daily Signal

Once the great equalizer in terms of access to arts and culture in public schools, cultural field trips were viewed as central to a school’s educational mission. With continued budget cuts and lack of funding, less-advantaged students are less likely to have these experiences, while more advantaged families expose their children to cultural institutions and experiences outside of school hours.

When give access to art exposure, students from rural or high-poverty areas often have reported higher levels of historical recall, desire, and interest.


From Mozart for babies, to tutus for toddlers, to family trips to the museum, children of affluent, aspiring parents generally get exposed to the arts whether or not public schools provide them.

Low-income children, often, do not. Strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many a child behind.

Access equals a more level playing field with children who have enrichment experiences and opportunities.

Huffington Post

Arts exposure or access at a very young age fosters creativity, encourages tolerance of diverse populations, and promotes use of creative outlets for expressing emotions.

Bucket 4 - Arts Education Throughout California and Other Cities

Status of Arts Education in California Public Schools: (Dated, 2011)

Harmony Project (LA area)

Create CA

Create CA Roadmap for schools

Create CA Interactive Dashboard

Any Given Child – Sacramento

  • 6 years active
  • 34 residencies in Sacramento Region (Based on their numbers, 146 total K-8 schools)

Sacramento Preparatory Music Academy

2009 Washington State and Washington State Arts Commission Study

All Washington K–12 principals were invited to participate in an online survey about arts education in their schools. A total of 478 principals participated, providing information about curriculum, funding, and other factors that impact teaching and learning in the arts. Here is a manifesto that they created that tells a story and presents an action plan.

Kennedy Center Information

The pdf report summarizes their design and methodology. This is where they felt there were gaps. Most likely since it was all quantitative research (surveys). Supplementing with qualitative research is where they feel we will gain the missing information (the principal interviews) and be able to tell the whole story.

All surveys/tools they used:

Final report:

City of Portland art tax

Twin River Arts Education:

Reports for Two Federal Grants

Teacher Practice and Curriculum:

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) - Signed in December 2015

School districts around the country are shifting their focus from teaching only core academic subjects to providing all students with a well-rounded education that includes instruction in arts and music.

Los Angeles USD Arts Education Branch

San Francisco USD Arts Education Master Plan (AEMP)

The blueprint for integrating the arts into each student’s daily curriculum. It details why and how students’ education will include arts from day one of pre-school to through senior year of high school.


The goal was to identify two cities that implemented arts in education programs as case studies to prove or negate effectiveness or challenges.

The guiding principle for major school districts like Los Angeles and San Francisco is that all students deserve both access to and equity in arts education.

Los Angeles USD

The nation’s largest school district, all LAUSD students are exposed to the arts—during the school day. The district even has a dedicated Arts Education Branch. In addition to funding, resources are supplemented by partnerships, fundraising, and local volunteer artists.

Arts Equity Index

An Arts Equity Index (AEI) is used to ensure that under-served students and schools receive an increased level of arts support and services.

The Arts Equity Index assigns levels for all LAUSD schools K-12 based on the scope of their provided arts instruction, resources, and Student Equity Index. The AEI index levels are:

  1. Non-Existent

  2. Basic

  3. Emerging

  4. Developing

  5. Strong

  6. Excelling

A school’s Arts Equity Index level is determined through a short electronic survey completed by a principal (or designee) that assesses where and how arts resources and supplies are being used in a school.


The goal is for all LAUSD schools to be at a Level 4 (Developing) or higher within three years. Each school year, steps are taken to provide more equity of arts resource allocation based on the assigned level, and to ensure that all students have appropriate arts access and instruction.


  • Additional Arts Teachers

  • Additional supplies, materials, and equipment

  • Externally secured funding and in-kind support

  • Strategic Community Arts Partner usage

  • Expanded Instructional Time Options (0 & 7 period classes)

  • Creative Network

  • Title I


In 2012, Los Angeles Unified school board members made arts instruction a core subject, designating it as important as subjects like math and English. The move was aimed at getting the arts to every student in the district, and it won applause from arts supporters around the country.

But in 2015, the goal of universal arts instruction remains elusive. A KPCC analysis of the most recent district data found that at about 100 elementary schools, the vast majority of students get no arts instruction.

Still, across the district, there are signs of improvement. Forty-five new art teachers were hired for the new school year, according to district numbers, and resources like professional development for teachers have been increased. Plus, the district’s arts branch launched a series of arts festivals that showcase student work.

  • The AEI attributed to results
    • Showed a wide disparity among schools in the amount of instruction in the arts
    • Funding was redistributed to provide instruction where it was needed the most
    • LAUSD Schools; Arts Results: