I want to give the reader our most concise definition of the arts integration model we used in Rochester, NY:
The purpose of this rigorous research and evaluation design was to measure the effect of arts integration on student achievement in a disadvantaged K-6 population in Rochester, NY, the ninth poorest city school district in the United States. The goals established by USDOE Arts in Education Model Demonstration and Dissemination [AEMDD] grant were accomplished by the Rochester Arts Impact Study Enhancement (RAISE) MODEL. The goals of the grant are to:  integrate standards-based arts education into the core elementary and middle school curricula;  strengthen standards-based arts instruction in these grades; and  improve students’ academic performance, including their skills in creating, performing, and responding to the arts.
The Rochester City School District (RCSD) Project RAISE MODEL is an elaborated residency that builds the capacity of teachers and students to improve academic achievement. It included integrating the arts into the 10 K-6 elementary schools Common Core curricula by strengthening the use of high-quality arts in academic instruction, strengthening the place of arts as a core academic subject in school curricula and strengthening arts instruction.
Elaborated Residencies (Ingram, 2003)/Unit Development
Treatment students participated in a 10-session, artist-directed learning experience that supported and were integrated with specific Common Core curricular goals in English Language Arts.
Unit/Lesson Plan Development Process:
For example, the Arts Director and Project Coordinator selected a teaching artist for each grade level, attended grade level meetings to query teachers about their ideas on what students could best learn using the arts in ELA—things students had difficulty learning. For example, the targeted skills and concepts for third graders were: 1) understanding character; 2) vocabulary acquisition, and 3) visualization. Teaching artists were given an opportunity to respond to the skills and subsequently a small team comprised of all seven teaching artists and a few teachers developed integrated units/lesson plans during the summer (samples available).
Arts Integration Sessions – The RCSD Arts Director and Project Coordinator designed and facilitated professional development sessions for elementary teachers focusing on integrating arts learning into the curriculum. Treatment teachers were requested to attend 10, two-hour sessions (and receive P.D. credit from RCSD). Each session was focused on how to integrate a specific art form into another subject area at a specific grade level. It was delivered in a variety of formats to facilitate and encourage teacher participation. The facilitators modeled an arts activity and demonstrated how to connect it with ELA, math, social studies, etc. Teachers were provided with hands-on materials to aid in the replication of the demonstration in their classroom.
Job Embedded: The RAISE Program leaders consider the informal opportunities treatment teachers have to observe and interact with teaching artists during the implementation of the integrated units as “job embedded” professional development [D. Harloff].
Overlapping Skills, Not Transfer
The current study reflects the field’s work on this second theory that arts integration promotes the transfer of knowledge and skills as a benefit to student thinking and adds to this literature that the transfer reveals student thinking, enhances student memory and improves student achievement especially in disadvantaged populations. The arts help especially disadvantaged populations to eradicate the academic and social disparities that lead to marginalization and poor school outcomes. In arts integrated classrooms, disadvantaged students gain an academic advantage in a deliberate effort to improve performance. The active acquisition of arts skills overlaps the needed subject skills such as elaboration, rehearsal of meaning, generation, enactment, oral production, effort after meaning, emotional arousal and pictorial representation and the student’s brain handles this integration through mental stretching.
- Southworth, R., Gardiner, M., & Westervelt, N. (2017). Measuring the Effectiveness of Arts Integration on Instructional Improvement and Student Achievement in Disadvantaged Populations. San Antonio, TX: Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association annual meeting.