MSU Riley Center

Arts & Education Fact Sheet

  • Arts education is the only comprehensive school reform model that is working in our nation’s schools.
  • Mississippi’s Whole Schools Initiative (WSI) was created by the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) in 1992.
  • WSI is the first comprehensive statewide arts education program in Mississippi, joining the likes of:
    • A+ Schools Program in North Carolina
    • Higher Order Thinking (HOT) Schools Program in Connecticut
    • Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE)
  • The primary goal of WSI is to strengthen education in and through the arts. WSI uses the arts as a vehicle for promoting high-quality instruction and learning for students in all disciplines.
  • Children who study the arts are:
    • Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
    • Three times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
    • Four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
    • Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance
    • Four times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem

    Source: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices'
    "The Impact of Arts Education on Workforce Preparation"

  • Published in 1999, "Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning" concluded that students involved in arts do better on many measures, including better grades in English, reading proficiency, higher scores on standardized tests, lower dropout rates, and decreased boredom. The report also found that performance advantages grow over time and that performance improvements hold true for low-socioeconomic status (low parent education/income) children.
  • The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that eighth graders who studied any type of art outperformed those who did not.
  • In 1995 College Board testing, students who had studied the arts for at least four years scored 59 points higher on the verbal portion of the SAT, and 44 points higher on math, than students with no experience or course work in the arts.
  • Released in 2002, "Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development" is a compendium reviewing 62 studies of arts learning in dance, drama, music, multiple arts, and visual arts. The report outlines important relationships between learning in the arts and academic and social skills in the following six major areas:
    1. Reading and Language Development
      Certain forms of arts instruction enhance and complement basic reading instruction aimed at helping children "break the phonetic code" that unlocks written language by associating letters, words, and phrases with sounds, sentences, and meanings.

      Young children who engage in dramatic enactments of stories and text improve their reading comprehension, story understanding, and ability to read new materials they have not seen before. The effects are even more significant for children from economically disadvantaged circumstances and those with reading difficulties in the early and middle grades.

      Dramatic enactments by young children also are shown to produce more effective writing. Other arts learning experiences – in dance and drama, for instance – develop expressive and reflective skills that enhance writing proficiency.
    2. Mathematics
      Certain music instruction, including comprehensive instruction that includes training in keyboard skills, develops spatial reasoning and spatial-temporal reasoning skills, which are fundamental to understanding and using mathematical ideas and concepts.
    3. Fundamental Cognitive Skills and Capacities
      Learning in individual art forms as well as in multiple arts experiences engages and strengthens such fundamental cognitive capacities as spatial reasoning (the capacity for organizing and sequencing ideas); conditional reasoning (theorizing about outcomes and consequences); problem solving; and the components of creative thinking (originality, elaboration, flexibility).
    4. Motivations to Learn
      Learning in the arts nurtures motivation, including active engagement, disciplined and sustained attention, persistence, and risk-taking, and increases attendance and educational aspirations.
    5. Effective Social Behavior
      Studies of student learning experiences in drama, music, dance, and multi-arts activities show student growth in self-confidence, self-control, self-identity, conflict resolution, collaboration, empathy, and social tolerance.
    6. School Environment
      Studies show that the arts help to create the kind of learning environment that is conducive to teacher and student success by fostering teacher innovation, a positive professional culture, community engagement, increased student attendance and retention, effective instructional practice, and school identity.

"The arts are fundamental resources through which the world is viewed, meaning is created, and the mind is developed."
— Eliot Eisner, Professor of Education and Art at Stanford University

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