(UPDATED) The arts are a topic of much discussion and debate among education practitioners and policymakers as school districts work to help students meet high standards with limited resources.
Certainly, advocates point to many benefits for students who participate in the arts, such as improved creativity, communication, and innovation; higher engagement in school; and a positive effect on academic outcomes, including reading and math achievement, high school completion, and college enrollment.
While there is generally broad support for the arts, there is a lack of rigorous, independent research that can identify and develop promising programs and rigorously assess the effect of arts participation on education outcomes. For example, research is needed to:
- Explore how factors such as type, duration, intensity, and quality of arts programming affect student education outcomes;
- Identify the most effective ways to incorporate the arts to ensure the broadest impact on student achievement in other academic areas (i.e., math, science, reading, and writing); and
- Rigorously test the effects of existing arts programs on a variety of student education outcomes, identify factors that influence these effects, and assess how these effects compare for diverse groups of students.
To begin answering these, and other important questions about the arts in schools, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is competing grants in a special topic, Arts in Education. We are encouraging applications that address important research questions and provide evidence and resources on which to base decisions about arts education.
On May 4, 2016, the IES program officers, Dr. James Benson and Dr. Erin Higgins, participated in a webinar on the grant competition, which was offered by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development. A video of the webinar is available on the NEA website or can be viewed on NEA's YouTube site.
For more information about the Arts in Education topic, visit the IES website.
Written by Erin Higgins and James Benson, Education Research Analysts, NCER
UPDATED MAY 6: Updated to reflect that the webinar has already been held and provide link to video.