Speaking Truth to Power: Shaping Arts Policy through School District Use of the Impact of the Arts as an Indicator of Achievement

Session Number: 1903
Track: Arts, Culture, and Audiences
Session Type: Panel
Tags: Advocacy and policy change, arts and culture, arts integration, creativity, engagement, equity
Session Chair: Ivonne Chand O'Neal, Ph.D. [Principal - MUSE Research]
Discussant: Steven J Holochwost [Senior Research Scientist & Associate Principal - WolfBrown]
Presenter 1: Laura Smyth, Ph.D. [Program Director, Title 1 Initiative - California Alliance for Arts Education]
Presenter 2: Steven J Holochwost [Senior Research Scientist & Associate Principal - WolfBrown]
Presenter 3: Ivonne Chand O'Neal, Ph.D. [Principal - MUSE Research]
Presentation 2 Additional Author: Dennie Palmer Wolf, Ed.D [Principal Researcher - WolfBrown]
Session Facilitator: Ivonne Chand O'Neal, Ph.D. [Principal - MUSE Research]
First Author or Discussion Group Leader: Ivonne Chand O'Neal, Ph.D. [Principal - MUSE Research]
Second Author or Discussion Group Leader: Laura Smyth, Ph.D. [Program Director, Title 1 Initiative - California Alliance for Arts Education]
Third Author or Discussion Group Leader: Steven J Holochwost [Senior Research Scientist & Associate Principal - WolfBrown]
Time: Nov 02, 2018 (02:15 PM - 03:15 PM)
Room: CC - 12

Other Authors: Denny Wolf, Kerry O'Grady
Abstract 1 Title: Arts Policy Pathway: Equitable Access to Educational Opportunities for Low-Income Students in Chula Vista Elementary School District
Presentation Abstract 1:

For the past three years the California Alliance for Arts Education has been pursuing a ‘policy pathway’, designed to enable schools and districts to embrace arts programs among their strategies for achieving Title I goals in order to support more equitable educational opportunities and outcomes for low-income students. 

The next phase of this pathway entails a statewide outreach effort to school districts throughout the state, providing the resources to both inform and support local efforts to use Title I funds for arts education strategies that support Title I goals.  To that end, The Arts Alliance is partnering with the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association’s (CCSESA), Statewide Arts Initiative. Working in partnership with the California Department of Education, CCSESA regularly convenes regional County Office of Education arts education directors. These convenings provide a cohort of leadership representing all regions of the state. Working with CCSESA we will establish a model for countywide outreach, and then use that model to spread this effort throughout the state. The California Alliance will provide the technical resources to support this outreach, both in terms of the “Title1arts” website, as well as providing webinars to train leaders to provide the support that school principals and district leaders may need in order to pursue this funding strategy.  An extension of the work toward providing data-driven evidence to shape policy is seen in current study taking place in Chula Vista, CA, a 45-school elementary school district in the southern part of San Diego County. The district’s unprecedented $15 million investment in the arts provides a unique opportunity to identify the specific effects of that investment — which added over 75 fulltime arts teachers to the roster in less than two years — on the lives of students, their parents, and the teachers that educate them. Demographically, the district has a significant rate of students living in poverty as well as English language learners, so we aim to learn something about the impacts on those specific populations as well. We expect to look at the results of the pilot survey in the larger context of school data and create an informative snapshot of the district.


Abstract 2 Title: The Potential for Theater Education to Foster Inter-personal Skills among At-Risk Students:Results from a Mixed-Methods Study
Presentation Abstract 2:

Middle childhood (ages 6 to 12 years) is a sensitive period for the development of interpersonal skills. Children rated as having fewer interpersonal skills during middle childhood exhibit lower levels of academic achievement and behavioral adjustment in later childhood and adolescence. While children from lower-income households are disproportionately likely to exhibit lower levels of interpersonal skills in middle childhood, there is evidence that theater education may foster these skills (see below). In this paper we present the results of a study in which a diverse sample of low-income children were assigned in a quasi-random fashion to participate in an in-school theater residency program. We report significant effects of program participation on survey measures of empathy and peer relations as well as reduced levels of disengaged and disruptive behavior based on observational ratings. Together, these results suggest that theater education may benefit interpersonal skills among at-risk students.


Presentation 2 Other Authors: Kerry O'Grady
Abstract 3 Title: Arts Action Force for At-Risk Youth: A Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Case Study
Presentation Abstract 3:

The rates of incarceration are consistently rising amongst our inner-city and minority communities. A large majority of incarcerated adults have children. As a result, most of those youth are expected to go to prison by the age of 17. Without proper guidance and exposure to healthier alternatives, youth dealing with extreme conditions are often left to their own defenses in navigating childhood. Given the growing percentage of impacted youth in LAUSD, that includes thousands of homeless youth, over 8000 foster youth, and a growing number of students in our 56 continuation schools, it is important that we provide support for our students that are at risk of entering the juvenile justice system.  Arts education has been a pivotal tool in engaging such youth.  The arts give students confidence, increased exposure to dimensions of creative problem solving, and opportunities to exercise creative thinking skills.  Our objective is to create a collaborative action force of organizations working with at-risk or formerly incarcerated youth and the LAUSD Arts Education Branch, to create and expand arts-based Social and Emotional Learning and Restorative Justice Programs. The current session will discuss the results of creativity and student engagement assessment conducted with two LAUSD high schools and one middle school in the context of policy development and restorative practices.


Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Research and evaluation documenting the impact of arts education on student outcomes has been a critical component of the work of organizations such as The California Alliance for Arts Education, whose mission is is to create a more robust policy environment to enforce the law that states that every child has a right to arts education.  For the current session, a panel of arts education researchers, arts advocates, and arts policy makers will join together to discuss current case studies from three school districts documenting research designs and empirical evidence of how evaluations in the arts are being used to shape policy.  Brought to light will be specific questions and key points on which these evaluators have focused, outlining the empirical work that will ultimately be used to shape arts policy impacting thousands of underserved students throughout the United States.