Nation's Arts Report Card Released (June 15, 2009)
Washington, D.C. - Today, for the first time in more than a decade, the U.S. Department of Education announced the results of the 2008 Nation's Arts Report Card, detailing how much eighth-grade students know and are able to do in music and the visual arts. The results, officially known as the 2008 National Assessment of Educational Progress in the Arts (NAEP) reveal barriers to student achievement in the arts, with significant racial/ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic gaps. The results elicited the most direct and supportive statement from the federal government regarding arts education in recent years. In response to the results, the Secretary of Education and senior officials at the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Assessment Governing Board all called for substantially increasing access to arts learning and significantly improving the quality of national data collection on the status of arts education in the nation's schools.
The League is working with our national partners, including the Arts Education Partnership, to analyze the report results, discern what comparisons might be made to the 1997 report, and make resources available to help orchestras understand and communicate the results in the context of their own communities. A complete analysis will be provided soon, but initial resources are available in the meantime for your use.
Duncan Says, "We Can and Should Do Better"
In response to today's release, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, "These results are important for several reasons. First, they remind us that the arts are a core academic subject and part of a complete education for all students. The arts are also important to American students gaining the 21st century skills they will need to succeed in higher education and the global marketplace -- skills that increasingly demand creativity, perseverance, and problem solving combined with performing well as part of a team. The results also remind us that learning in the arts can and should be rigorous and based on high standards, and that it can be evaluated objectively, using well-designed measures. This Arts Report Card should challenge all of us to make K-12 arts programs more available to America's children and youth. Such programs not only engage students' creativity and academic commitment today, but they uniquely equip them for future success and fulfillment. We can and should do better for America's students."
Student Performance and Equity Gaps in Music
Students were asked to respond to music via multiple choice and open-ended questions. Students from lower-income families scored, on average, 28 points lower than their peers from higher-income families. The NAEP measures what students know and are able to do and does not provide a complete picture of how much arts education is being delivered in our nation's schools. However, some contextual questions regarding instruction and student participation reveal:
- Only 57% of eight-graders attended schools where music instruction was offered at least three or four times a week, and 8% attended schools where no music instruction was offered.
- 34% of eight-graders reported participating in one or more musical activities in school.
- Only 5% of students reported playing in an orchestra in school.
Promote the Results
The nation-wide release of the Arts Report Card provides an excellent opportunity to prompt a discussion about the status of arts education in your community! Stay tuned - the League has been working with its national partners to create a toolkit to help you understand and communicate about the NAEP results and will make these tools available online soon. In the meantime, find the full results online, view the League's music education advocacy tools, and check out the emerging toolkit on maximizing the Nation's Arts Report Card.
The League is a member of the Performing Arts Alliance, a coalition of national performing arts service organizations dedicated to advocating for national policies that recognize, enhance, and foster the contributions the performing arts make to America.