Key Findings

What’s currently happening locally in arts education at a school level?

  • Most schools in five school districts surveyed provide a very limited number of art exposure experiences. These experiences come in the form of field trips and assemblies and vary in number and quality, not only between the districts, but also within the districts themselves. It was reported by all districts that arts exposure experiences vary by individual teacher and by grade level.
  • Students experience visual arts and music more than twice as frequently as dance and theater.
  • After-school programs play a significant role in providing arts exposure, providing limited in-school programming. Very few organizations have found success carving out space during the school day to provide programming.
  • Funding is seen as the most significant barrier to increasing arts education.
  • Roughly 1/3 of area schools have access to a designated arts coordinator. There is wide disparity between districts, though, with Twin Rivers reporting 75% of schools having access to a designated arts coordinator, compared to just 3% of Sacramento City schools.
  • The vast majority of arts education providers in the region focus their work within Sacramento City and Elk Grove.
  • Arts providers see communications (primarily with the districts) as a key area for improvement
  • Overall, research shows that arts education is aligned with 21st Century learning outcomes, including an integrated approach to learning/teaching, innovative skills building, creativity and critical thinking skills, and collaboration.
  • There are four key factors of quality arts education:
    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, and the attitudes and mindsets they bring to the learning experience.
    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.
    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.
    4. Environment – the tangible and concrete elements, including the physical space of the classroom, the material resources available, as well as the time students receive (hours and years) to engage in arts learning.
  • The California VAPA Framework outlines the five strands of a gold standard arts program:
    1. Artistic perception – Students use language and the skills unique to visual arts, theater, dance and music to analyze and respond to sensory information.
    2. Creative expression – Students create and/or perform their own work and communicate the intent of meaning of their work.
    3. Historical and cultural context – In learning an art discipline, the students work towards understanding the historical and cultural contributions within the discipline.
    4. Aesthetic valuing - Students learn to critically assess and derive meaning.
    5. Connections, relationships, and applications – Making connections from one art discipline to other arts.
  • Though there is often debate and contention about the value of arts exposure as opposed to arts education, both are vital components to an effective arts program.
  • The most effective school-based arts education programs require alignment and coordination between the school districts, the city, and the community.
  • LAUSD has a dedicated Arts Education Branch charged with ensuring all K-12 students are exposed to arts during the school day, and it brings together city funding, resources from community partners, local volunteer artists and arts providers, and outside funding. It uses an Arts Equity Index to track and monitor access and equity issues related to its offerings.
  • SFUSD introduced the Arts Education Master Plan (AEMP) as the blueprint for integrating arts into each student’s daily curriculum. The AEMP relies heavily on strong support from the city, the district, arts education organizations, community partners, and cultural institutions. An Arts Coordinator is assigned to each school and partners with the principals to ensure the implementation of the AEMP and help connect each school with offerings.