Arts-Integration Activities That Qualify for Federal Funds, and How They Can Help Your School

Photo courtesy of Bartlett City Schools.

By Lucas Held, Director of Communications, Wallace Foundation –

Can music help kids learn fractions? Can theater help improve their vocabulary? And could federal education funds be used to support the use of the arts to improve student learning?

A new report by American Institutes for Research seeks to answer such questions. It analyzes research on the effectiveness of “arts integration” efforts—efforts that use arts to teach other subjects such as English and math—and identifies 44 interventions (10 meeting Tier I-III evidence standards, and 34 meeting Tier IV standards) that demonstrate enough evidence of success to qualify for funding under 2015’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Among them are efforts that include activities such as teacher professional development, school improvement efforts, afterschool programs and supports for English learners.

The report further explores the results of such efforts to estimate their average effect on student achievement. It finds a statistically significant but modest improvement, suggesting that the introduction of arts integration could move the average student from the 50th to the 54th percentile in student achievement. It also finds modest improvements in students’ attitudes and social and emotional learning, and adds that ethnic minorities and students from low-income backgrounds have the most to gain from arts integration.

Click here to download Review of Evidence: Arts Integration Research Through the Lens of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The report points to 12 funding opportunities in ESSA that could be used to support arts integration. But ESSA does not earmark funds specifically for arts integration, the report warns, so educators should carefully select interventions most relevant to student achievement and the larger goals of their schools.

Click here to download the report. And please let us know what you think of this or any of the other resources available for free in our online Knowledge Center.