Describing Illinois Music Programs Using the Whole School Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Education: A Statewide Investigation

By Ciorba, Charles R.; McLay, Melanie | Contributions to Music Education, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Describing Illinois Music Programs Using the Whole School Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Education: A Statewide Investigation


Ciorba, Charles R., McLay, Melanie, Contributions to Music Education


The purpose of this study was to describe Illinois music educators' self-perceptions regarding the demographics, logistics, function, and implementation of their classroom operations using the Whole School Effectiveness Guidelines Survey for Music Programs. The survey was administered to K-12 music educators (N = 1,251) throughout the state of Illinois. Participants reported positive self-perceptions in relation to their teaching abilities and leadership qualities, yet were less positive regarding the communication of goals, expectations, vision, mission, and current research with teachers outside of music, administrators, and parents.

Over the past 40 years, music education has continually struggled to hold a secure place in the K-12 curriculum (Koza, 2006). In the 1970s, the United States experienced an economic recession that had a significant impact on public education. During this period, many music programs that were unable to advocate their reason for existence were vulnerable to being eliminated due to budget constraints (Mark, 2002). In the 1980s, the National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983) published A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, a government report that addressed the declining quality of the American educational system. The report received a great deal of publicity, and although it did support arts education, the authors failed to recognize music as part of the standard curriculum. During the 1990s, the National Standards for Music Education were introduced as part of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. Despite this achievement, the legislation contained no congressional mandate to adopt the National Standards. To this day, it remains the choice of individual states and local school districts to do so voluntarily.

As the United States entered the twenty-first century, political and economic struggles continued to have an effect on music education. The Center on Education Policy (2007) released its fifth year report of the No Child Left Behind Act, in which 491 school districts throughout the United States were randomly solicited for participation. The report indicated that 349 districts volunteered, resulting in a 71% response rate. Between 2002 and 2007, 62% of elementary schools surveyed increased instructional time for English language arts (ELA) and/or math as follows: (a) 47% for ELA, (b) 37% for math, and (c) 43% for both subjects combined. Furthermore, 44% of the districts chose to decrease the time allotted for the following subjects and activities: (a) social studies, (b) science, (c) art and music, (d) physical education, and (e) lunch and/or recess. This decrease resulted in a combined time reduction averaging 145 minutes a week, or 30 minutes a day.

The Music for All Foundation (2004) released the results of a five-year study, which stated that while the K-12 student population increased 5.8%, enrollment in music classes throughout the state of California declined by 46.5% (513,366 students). Furthermore, participation in elementary general music declined by 85.8% (264,821 students), and the ranks of music teachers decreased by 26.7% (1,053 teachers). This study claimed that while budgetary (Proposition 13) and political (No Child Left Behind Act) issues were partly attributable to these declines, the elimination of the Fine Arts Coordinator position in many California school districts had silenced the voice of advocacy for music education at the administrative levels.

Further research indicates that such political and budgetary issues have an affect on music education at the administrative level throughout the United States. Abril and Gault (2006) asked a random sample of 350 elementary school principals to complete a survey, which examined their perspectives regarding music education in the elementary school. Respondents (N = 214) reported that the No Child Left Behind Act, financial constraints, and scheduling difficulties all had a negative impact on music education. …

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