Finding Funding for Arts Integration


I have been looking at the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that was just recently passed by Congress. There are a number of places for funding new work in arts integration. One of the most helpful documents I have come across recently is the Wallace Foundation’s report, written by the American Institutes of Research (2017), that reviews the evidence of arts integration studies that meet the criteria for funding set by the What Works Clearinghouse.

Recommendations for Practitioners and Policymakers

Recommendations for Practitioners and Policymakers


Be thoughtful in selecting which ESSA funding program(s) to pursue to support a proposed arts integration intervention.


Important factors to consider include the types of activities that are required and allowable under the program(s), the amount and duration of funding available, and the level of evidence required.


Critically assess the theoretical and empirical support behind a proposed arts integration intervention. Adopting a conservative interpretation of ESSA’s evidence-based criteria might help promote interventions with a stronger likelihood of success.


Recommendations for Future Research Research that is more rigorous is needed to provide stronger evidence for arts integration.


Researchers can help provide more Tier I evidence by using a randomized controlled trial study design, documenting the attrition of study participants, and providing sufficient details of analyses and findings in report appendices.


Further research is needed to understand the effects of arts integration on specific types of educational outcomes. For some student outcomes (e.g., science, social studies, arts-related outcomes, and critical thinking), our meta-analytic findings are based on a single study.


Researchers should consider examining these outcomes in future studies of arts integration interventions to better understand the effects of arts integration on those outcomes.


Additional research is needed to shed light on the effects of the individual components of arts integration interventions.


Although our findings suggest a relationship between the types of materials used in an arts integration intervention and student outcomes, researchers should consider conducting studies that examine the effects of specific components of arts integration interventions.


Additional research is needed to shed light on the effects of the use of arts integration with diverse student populations in a range of settings.


Researchers should plan their studies to include systematic comparisons of the effects of arts integration on different student subgroups, such as students who are economically disadvantaged, English learners, and students with disabilities.


Moreover, researchers should consider studying the effects of arts integration among schools located in different settings (e.g., rural vs. suburban areas” (Ludwig, M., Boyle, A., & Lindsay, J., 2017).

Arts Integration and ESSA Law

Arts integration is a school reform strategy used by schools to help students achieve by integrating the arts into core subjects. Normally the funding for this is provided by the schools to outside arts agencies who contract with independent teaching artists to partner with classroom teachers. Ai

“During the past 20 years, education scholars and researchers have argued that linking arts strategies and activities with curriculum and instruction in other subjects (e.g., mathematics, reading, science, and social studies) can improve student learning in those subjects. This approach of incorporating the arts in other subjects is referred to as arts integration (see, for example, Arts Education Partnership, 2004; Burnaford, Brown, Doherty, & McLaughlin, 2007; Deasy, 2002). This report examines the relevance of arts integration to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 2015 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. ESSA includes a diverse array of programs and funding streams that states, local educational agencies, and schools might leverage to support school improvement and student success. Furthermore, ESSA contains provisions requiring that educational agencies seeking to use federal funds available through the law adopt evidence-based interventions” (Ludwig, M., Boyle, A., & Lindsay, J., 2017).

Wallace Foundation

​​​​​​​​​”The Wallace Foundation’s mission is to foster improvements in learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children and the vitality of the arts for everyone. Our approach to accomplishing our mission emerges from the idea that foundations have a unique but often untapped capacity to develop evidence and experiences that can help advance an entire field.​

The money we have is minuscule compared to the size of the sectors we hope to move forward. By developing ideas and information to advance education, the arts and learning and enrichment for young people, we can stretch our philanthropic dollar, giving our work far greater impact than the sum of our individual grants. Our efforts, then, seek not only to help our individual grant recipients but also to develop credible knowledge useful to many others.


Specifically, Wallace identifies important knowledge gaps in our areas of interest; funds real-world tests to yield answers to fill those gaps; and then disseminates what has been learned to policymakers, influential thinkers and those who work in the fields we cover. Our approach is fleshed out in Wallace’s “theory of change,” the term used in philanthropy to describe a hypothesis about how a particular set of activities will lead to a particular result” (The Wallace Foundation).

American Institutes of Research

“AIR is one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations. Our overriding goal is to use the best science available to bring the most effective ideas and approaches to enhancing everyday life. For us, making the world a better place is not wishful thinking. It is the goal that drives us.

Founded in 1946 as a not-for-profit organization, we conduct our work with strict independence, objectivity and non-partisanship. Learn more about our history.

The intellectual diversity of our 1,800 employees enables us to bring together experts from many fields in the search for innovative answers to challenges that span the human life course” American Institutes of Research.

Our Mission

“AIR’s mission is to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving people’s lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged”(American Institutes of Research).

Our Vision

“Within the United States and internationally, AIR will be the preeminent organization that

  • produces improvements in education, health, and the workforce;
  • addresses the needs of individuals, organizations, and communities;
  • designs and advances statistical and research methods;
  • causes practitioners and organizations to adopt evidence-based practices; and
  • informs public understanding and policymaking by the best evidence” (American Institutes of Research).

What Works Clearinghouse

“The What Works Clearinghouse is an investment of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) within the U.S. Department of Education that was established in 2002. The work of the WWC is managed by a team of staff at IES and conducted under a set of contracts held by several leading firms with expertise in education, research methodology, and the dissemination of education research. Follow the links to find more information about the key staff from Mathematica Policy Research, Abt Associates, Development Services Group, Inc. and Sanametrix, Inc. who contribute to the WWC investment. For details about the staff who conduct study reviews under specific topic areas, see the WWC review teams” (What Works Clearinghouse).


Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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