Turnaround Arts

It seems easy to forget that many schools are improving every day. Sometimes the criticism of schools seems so intense that the documentation of improvement is lost in a roiling sea of contempt. Subjects that have been at the center of school reform efforts for the last twenty years are English and Math. Subjects that have been marginalized during these reforms are social studies, science and the arts. But an interesting outcome of the focus on just two subjects is the additional progress made in all the subjects. In fact a review of all subjects yields documented improvement regardless of the subject being the focus. For the arts, this successful implementation and documentation of improvement comes in many forms. One of the more notable efforts at the national level is sponsored by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH). PCAH that has been successful with 68 schools and 33,000 students in a public/private partnership called, “Turnaround Arts.”

Turnaround Arts works with local program partners to provide arts education resources to clusters of priority schools in their region. Local partners include state agencies, school districts, operating foundations, and educational organizations. This shared leadership structure provides powerful tools to a critical mass of our highest-needs schools, while building local, sustainable structures and expertise for a lasting impact on students. Turnaround Arts

Turnaround Arts works in a cohort of the lowest performing 5% of America’s elementary and middle schools. A 3-year program evaluation of the Turnaround Arts pilot schools, released in 2015, found significant improvement in academic achievement, reduction in disciplinary referrals and increases in attendance, among other findings. In addition, the study found that Turnaround Arts schools outperformed comparable schools in their city or state that received federal funds for school improvement (“SIG schools”).

Turnaround Arts is a public-private partnership led by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with the White House, U.S. Department of Education, and several private foundations. It is managed by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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