Renaissance in the Classroom: Arts Integration and Meaningful Learning

By Gail Burnaford; Arnold Aprill et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Beyond The Unit:
Assessment and the Learning Cycle

THE #2 PENCIL:
ARTS INTEGRATION AND TRADITIONAL ACHIEVEMENT MEASURES
Arts integration initiatives face a persistent and intensive challenge to address issues of accountability in an age where academic standards, time on task, and bell-to-bell learning are the norm. If external standardized measures drive policy in many schools in this country, how then can the arts validate their presence as an integral part of the educational process? How do arts integrated curricula contribute to achievement? Do they raise test scores?Assessment, like the very substance and quality of the (arts integration) program, is an area that requires utmost attention for the sake of students and teachers, arts administrator David Flatley says. Marketing is everything. Arts integration markets itself in communities and schools where it has been taken seriously. Why? Because it does contribute to student learning. Orozco School Principal Rebecca de los Reyes says: I don't care how cute the activity is, how much fun the kids have, or how much art they are doing. Show me how it's related in a meaningful way to the objectives and standards, and to the curriculum. Show me how you focus on those things to help students achieve.Information collected in schools where arts integration has taken hold suggests that standardized test scores are positively affected by the presence of the arts in classrooms. Schools where the arts have been a consistent presence show gains in both reading and math scores. More studies continue to mount, validating the interaction between quality arts programming and student achievement (Catterall, 1997; Parks & Rose, 1997). The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) reports that analyses of test scores across a range of schools consistently show the following:
1. Students in arts-focused schools usually have higher than average test scores than students enrolled in other schools in their district or state.
2. Standardized test results of students in arts-focused schools compare favorably with those of students enrolled in more academically selective schools even when the arts schools do not pursue selective admission policies.

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