Kentucky Arts Alliance Keynote Address


Last week I was in Kentucky to speak about the role of arts education to members of the Kentucky Arts Alliance. I want to include some of the power point presentation I made to them. I started out talking about Melody Herzfeld who spoke at the Tony Awards.

  • This year’s Excellence in Theatre Education Awards was given to Melody Herzfeld, a drama teacher who kept kids safe during the shooting.
  • She said, “Imagine if arts were classes that were considered core, a core class in education.”
  • She also said, “Here we are, the future, changed for good.”

I mentioned several reasons for why the arts should be included in all classrooms:

  • The arts engage students in classrooms
  • ESSA recognizes Arts as Core
  • Studio thinking is good for students
  • Arts integration improves student achievement

I wanted to give the audience of teachers who use arts some literature that supports these ideas:

  • The arts are an “aesthetic experience” (Winner, Goldstein, & Vincent-Lancrin, 2013)
  • The arts can include many types of cognitive outcomes (Mansilla, 2004),
  • The arts provide a variety of skill-work (J. Catterall, 2009),
  • The arts are the molding of habits of mind (Winner & Hetland, 2007), and,
  • The arts Increase student achievement (R. Southworth, 2006; R. Southworth, Gardiner, & Gulden, 2009; Southworth, Gardiner, M. & Westervelt, N., 2017).

Disadvantaged Populations

Most important to me right now is the disadvantaged populations that are everywhere in our schools and are often called “kids at risk.”

  • Students who are “at-risk” need our help
  • There are many efforts in recent years to transform low performing schools
  • There is a growing interest in how the arts can support the success of students who are economically disadvantaged or face other educational risks (Toppo, 2016).

Standards and Research

The National Core Arts Standards were developed to help us know what is good enough, and what every student should be able to know and can do in our classrooms:

  • The National Core Arts Standards are built around evidence—
  • not just evidence of student learning,
  • but also research-based discoveries that
  • helped writers and reviewers determine best-practice methods

The way we measure arts standards is through Performance Assessment:

  • Arts provide authentic assessment
  • Performance you can see and confirm
  • Students demonstrate their learning
  • Teachers measure what students know and can do

Latest Research on Arts Integration from the field:

  • Wallace Foundation Report (2107):
  • Arts integration intervention: A specific approach, set of activities, strategy, or program linking arts with at least one other subject to improve student and school-related outcomes.
  • The report then presents the results of a review of evidence about arts integration based on the new evidence requirements in ESSA.

The Latest Findings from the SchoolWorks Lab, Inc.

Measuring the Effect of Arts Integration on academic achievement

  • Collective problem-solving
  • Brain plasticity
  • Collaborative education
  • Quality and equity

Kindergarten Findings

  • Gain four to five months
  • additional developmental growth
  • Music and Movement 1.61
  • Science subscale 1.60,
  • Over two years’ growth.
  • The arts integration form is Music

Grades 3-6

  • 40% Increase in Test Scores

Job-Embedded Professional Development

  • teachers learn best from other teachers.

National Arts Priority

The overwhelming direction in arts education research is to uncover, through more rigorous design, the effect of the arts on student achievement in disadvantaged populations and conduct better and more accurate research in the arts.

  • Focus this policy on Job-Embedded, peer-to-peer professional development.
  • What this research found that is very important for professional development policy
  • teachers learn best from other teachers.
  • Build the capacity to place the Arts into Core Curriculums
  • Build teacher capacity to teach the arts
  • Change the Work of Teachers.
  • Better Assessment of the Arts
  • Stop narrowing the Curriculum
  • Reverse the trend to cut the Arts

Students who experience quality arts integration in ELA and Math are likely to perform better intellectually and be accountable for what they know and can do. Why not add arts integration to the national priority for improving student learning throughout the nation?

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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