In recent years many school districts have had to restructure their arts curriculums to meet the growing emphasis on standards that is central to most school reform. This unique collection is meant to assist educators, policymakers, grantmakers and other stakeholders by focusing on the potential benefits of arts education for students and communities alike, and providing examples of creative ways school districts are handling their constraints.

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Survey of Music Education Providers: Report and Recommendations

September 1, 2011

In the summer of 2010, the Chicago Community Trust (CCT) commissioned an initiative to help identify how arts organizations can better and more effectively serve Chicago Public Schools (CPS) through arts education programming and explore the ways in which arts providers are using the CPS Arts Guide. Four cultural organizations from different disciplines were selected to spearhead the initiative, consulting with and gaining input from arts education providers across Chicago. The Ravinia Festival, the Art Institute of Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and the League of Chicago Theaters were selected to represent their respective disciplines (music, visual arts, dance, and theatre/literary arts).Each convening institution was charged with researching the music education offerings of their respective sectors by conducting focus groups with colleagues, and surveying the arts partners within their discipline. Ravinia convened all music sector organizations known to the institution several times during the process to get their input at each phase of this project:In the summer of 2010, four meetings were held to introduce the sector to the project and obtain their feedback on the commission and design of a survey. It was important to Ravinia that the survey creation be as inclusive of all members of the music sector as possible. Subsequently, these meetings, which preceded the survey development,provided the background for most of the questions which ended up in the survey. In the fall of 2010, the same music organizations were invited to a meeting to review a draft of the survey and provide Ravinia with feedback. In this meeting, the music sector proved to be once again very engaged in the design process and confirmed to Ravinia that they desired a survey that would be thorough and comprehensive even if it required some time to answer.In the summer of 2011, Ravinia again met with a large number of representatives from the music sector to discuss the findings of the survey, dive deeper into some of the more surprising findings, and create recommendations.In all, a total of 8 meetings were held, with more than 90 people representing 53 organizations that were a part of the process

Classroom Examples; Program Models

Chicago Arts Partner Study: Theatre and Literary Arts

August 25, 2011

In summer 2010, the Chicago Community Trust commissioned four nonprofit arts organizations, including the League of Chicago Theatres, to work with arts educators and develop practical and actionable recommendations that will enable arts partners to serve more Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students -- and serve them better -- through arts education. Over the past year, the theatre and literary arts education communities have contributed countless hours and numerous invaluable insights, many of which are reflected in this report. This study asked a few straightforward questions: What is the capacity of Chicago's theatre and literary arts partners? What will enable arts partners to increase that capacity, and what is getting in their way? How can supports -- new or existing -- be created, adapted, expanded, or simply better distributed to give arts partners new tools and techniques? Through an extensive survey, interviews, and numerous group convenings, this study came at those questions from a variety of angles. And strikingly, the copious amounts of data generated and the extensive conversations all pointed to a few basic ideas.Fundamentally, the ability of theatre and literary arts partners to develop new programs depends on the relationships they have built. And their ability to sustain successful programs, too, depends on the relationships they have built. What is the biggest constraint to their capacity? Those same relationships. This becomes particularly true in an environment in which resources are constrained -- the single most effective step that individual theatre and literary arts partners can take is to concentrate on the relationships they are building with principals and teachers and with their contacts in the district office. When working with high schools, where challenges and distractions are even greater, these steps become ever more critical. Theatre and literary arts partners already know that principals and teachers are critical to their success. We recommend that:Arts partners work closely with principals and teachers to understand schools' priorities and goals prior to pitching potential program offerings. Many groups have found that customizing or semi-customizing their programs after such a conversation leads to a better and longer-lasting fit with the school. Arts partners may want to reach out to other school stakeholders such as resource coordinators, curriculum coordinators, parents, and local school councils, among others, to conduct a needs assessment. Theatre and literary arts partners should also take advantage of the wealth of information that existing "matchmaker" organizations know about schools. Similarly, when they find a "true believer" -- a principal, teacher, parent, student that can enthusiastically engage others about the impact of the organization's arts programs and/or the field -- that person should be enlisted immediately as an advocate to his or her peers. Lastly, the theatre and literary arts education community should work together to share their successes and strategies on an ongoing basis.Funders assist by providing information about local needs and introductions to key leaders in communities. Funders should also support training for arts partners in developing and sustaining effective partnerships.CPS help arts partners make connections with principals and should facilitate opportunities for supportive principals and teachers ("true believers") to share their arts education experience with their peers.These critical relationships and partnerships can help theatre and literary arts partners weather a complicated set of challenges within schools. Some arts partners have described CPS as a place of tremendous uncertainty, where a sense of being in "survival mode" prevails. In this environment, where principals and teachers are under pressure to improve test scores and academic outcomes, translating the value of arts programming can be difficult: effective tools do not yet exist; arts partners do not have access to the data that could help them make their case; assessment and evaluation can be difficult and frustrating for all concerned. To ensure that theatre and literary arts partners can build successful, sustainable programs for CPS students, we recommend that:Arts partners evaluate and measure programs based on the priorities and goals they jointly establish with school leadership, so they can then demonstrate progress according to the schools? needs. Arts partners should share program evaluations with all stakeholders, including teachers and students, and could engage these stakeholders in focus groups to deepen their understanding of program impact. The theatre and literary arts partners also expressed a strong interest in working together, across organizations, to share and learn from each others approaches to assessment.Arts partners, funders, and CPS generate greater awareness of the assessment tools and supports that currently exist for arts partners because a large number of providers do not know about current resources in Chicago. Arts partners, funders, CPS should also collaborate to demonstrate arts program effectiveness in terms that matter to school leaders, such as the linkages between these programs and academic outcomes.Funders provide resources for deeper, quantitative studies of program effectiveness, especially in academic terms. Funders should also enter into a dialogue with arts partners to establish effective approaches to assessment that will meet both the funders' needs and the schools' needs, without being burdensome for arts partners.CPS enhance the Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts to include the supports that theatre and literary arts partners say would most enable them to expand capacity: best practices in developing and continuing relationships with principals and teachers; guidance on translating the impact of theatre and literary arts programs to Common Core standards and academic outcomes; and comprehensive approaches to assessment. CPS should also complete the sections still in development, such as the literary arts chapter, and ensure greater awareness of the Guide among classroom teachers and arts partners. Active users of the Guide could be enlisted to train non-users.Meanwhile, the field as a whole -- arts partners, funders, CPS, and stakeholders -- needs to continue working together to transform policy and support for arts education. Everyoneshould engage new CPS district leadership and push to establish changes in policy that will lay the groundwork for stronger arts education in schools, including graduation requirements, structural support for arts education, and training requirements for principals and teachers. It has never been easy to work with large districts like Chicago Public Schools, which itself faces many challenges in trying to help its students succeed personally and academically. And it is to the credit of arts partners that they choose to bring their dedication, passion, and ingenuity to a task that is simply so challenging. The data that follow paint a vivid picture of these challenges. The recommendations will absolutely require hard work by many parties -- but the heartening news is that they are attainable. Part of the solution is in helping people better relate to each other in creative ways.

Funding Trends; Program Models

Visual Arts Education in Chicago Public Schools: A Research Study

July 7, 2011

In the summer of 2010, the Chicago Community Trust (CCT) commissioned four organizations representing four arts disciplines treated in the Chicago Guide for Teaching and Learning in the Arts (the Guide) -- visual arts, dance, theater, and music -- to undertake a project to better understand arts education programs offered to Chicago Public School (CPS) students and teachers by arts organizations. The Art Institute of Chicago was commissioned to lead the visual arts education portion of the project. The overarching goal for the initiative was to identify how arts organizations can more effectively serve CPS students through arts education programming. Specifically, this included a better understanding of the current capacity of visual arts education organizations as well as factors that could improve the quantity and effectiveness of visual arts education programming for CPS students and teachers. The overarching goal for the initiative was to identify how arts organizations can more effectively serve CPS students through arts education programming. Specifically this included a better understanding of the current capacity of visual arts education programming. Specifically, this included a better understanding of the current capacity of visual arts education organization as well as factors that could improve the quantity and effectiveness of visual arts education programming for CPS students and teachers. The primary components of the project were an in-depth online survey and two sets of focus groups, together whcih sought to create a picture of the current capacity of visual arts organizations to collectively serve Chicago Public Schools and teachers. These tools were also intended to identify the opportunities for further development of visual arts programs and to generate a set of recommendations to funders, to CPS, and to the visual arts sector itself. Of the 124 organizations that were identified as serving CPS with visual arts education programming, 67 responded to the survey and 36 attended one of the focus group sessions. Two organizations participated in at least one focus group, but did not complete the survey, 20 participated in at least one focus group and completed the survey, while ten participated in both focus groups as well as completing the survey, In collecting survey data, organizations were asked about the format used in their projects.

Classroom Examples

Arts at the Core: Every School, Every Student

October 12, 2005

The profound impact of arts education on children and youth follows them throughout their lives. Arts education rewards our children by helping them to reach practical goals such as academic achievement and career success. Arts education enriches our youth with social, cultural and emotional benefits. As shown in study after study, a widely held belief in the positive value of arts education is shared by parents, teachers, school administrators and arts education experts.This belief is the reason that arts education has historically been an important part of the education of our children in the United States. However, deeper analysis both nationwide and here in Illinois reveals a gap between what individuals, educators and elected officials profess as the value of arts education and what is allocated to arts education in terms of budget, faculty, class time, curriculum, planning and evaluation.Illinois Creates is a broad-based statewide coalition of 150 education, business, civic and arts advocates dedicated to promoting a comprehensive, standards-based arts education program for all Illinois public school students.

Student Outcomes

Arts Education in the Chicago Public Schools: Executive Summary

January 1, 2002

Provides the result of an unprecedented survey of all Chicago Public Schools documents the extent of arts education provided to K-12 students during the school day, in the school year 2000-2001.

Classroom Examples