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IES Grant

Title: Exploring Links Between Arts Education and Academic Outcomes in the International Baccalaureate
Center: NCER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Elpus, Kenneth Awardee: University of Maryland, College Park
Program: Arts in Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (07/01/2018 - 06/30/2020) Award Amount: $600,000
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A180062

Co-Principal Investigator: Prichard, Stephanie

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to explore the relation between rigorous, high quality arts education in high school and academic outcomes at the high school and postsecondary levels. Prior research on the association between arts education and academic outcomes has yielded mixed results, possibly due to wide variation in the definitions of arts education and the academic measures used by researchers. In this study, the research team will analyze a novel administrative dataset that overcomes those weaknesses to establish the relationship between arts education and academic achievement.

Project Activities: The research team will examine the academic achievement outcomes for students who chose to enroll in arts courses compared to those who did not for ten cohorts of American students who pursued courses from the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, using data provided by the International Baccalaureate Organization. Additionally, they will link IB data to data from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) to compare postsecondary outcomes for arts and non-arts IB students. Finally, they will see if their findings from the IB dataset replicate using data from the Maryland Longitudinal Data System (MLDS) Center for students in the public high schools of Maryland.

Products: The research team will produce preliminary evidence of the potential for arts education to improve high school and postsecondary academic outcomes. In addition, they will produce peer-reviewed publications in arts education and general education research journals, host in-service workshops for arts educators; participate in annual meetings for arts educators and policymakers; publish articles in education practitioner journals and magazines; publish blog posts and op-ed articles on platforms intended to reach the general public; and communicate about these products through various social media platforms.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study includes United States public and private high schools authorized to offer IB courses and postsecondary institutions participating in the NSC.

Sample: The IB dataset includes all U.S. students who pursued any IB course or courses from 2005-2015 (N = 656,194). A separate dataset from the MLDS Center includes the cohort of 2,286 Maryland IB students who were 9th graders in 2012, and a matched sample of comparable size of students who were 9th graders in 2012 in non-IB Maryland schools.

Malleable Factors: The malleable factor of interest is enrollment in high quality arts education courses in dance, film, music, theater, and the visual arts. The findings from this study may lead to the identification of arts education programs or interventions that have promise for improving academic outcomes.

Research Design and Methods: In Year 1, the research team will acquire data from the IB Organization and link it to data from the NSC, the Common Core of Data, and the Private School Survey data. They will compare high school and postsecondary academic outcomes for arts and non-arts IB students. In Year 2, the research team will acquire data from the MLDS Center and conduct analyses to see if their IB program results can be replicated for students in public high schools of Maryland.

Control Condition: Students that did not pursue an arts course will be considered the comparison group. Researchers will compare their academic achievement to students who elected to take at least one arts course in high school.

Key Measures: Key measures include the IB end-of-course exams to measure student academic outcomes in the arts, English, science, world language, and mathematics as well as data from the NSC about students' postsecondary enrollment, persistence, degree attainment, and college major choice. For students in Maryland who were enrolled in non-IB schools, the research team will use students' scores on the state-mandated standardized assessments in English, Algebra, Biology and Government.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use a multilevel propensity score stratification approach to compare academic outcomes of arts and non-arts IB students as well as to compare arts and non-arts students within non-IB Maryland schools.