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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An Unfinished Canvas: Local Partnerships in Support of Arts Education in California

April 16, 2009

In 2006, at the request of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, SRI International conducted a study aimed at assessing the status of arts education in California relative to state goals. The final report, An Unfinished Canvas. Arts Education in California: Taking Stock of Policy and Practice, revealed a substantial gap between policy and practice. The study found that elementary schools in particular are failing to meet state goals for arts education. In light of these findings, The Hewlett Foundation commissioned a series of follow-up studies to identify policy mechanisms or other means of increasing student access to arts education. This study, focusing on the ability of school districts to leverage support for arts education through partnerships with local arts organizations, is one of the follow-up studies.Partnerships may allow for the pooling of resources and lend support to schools in a variety of ways including artists-in-residency programs, professional development for teachers, exposing students to the arts through the provision of one-time performances at school sites, and organizing field trips to performances and exhibits. According to the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework for California Public Schools, partnerships among districts, schools, and arts organizations are most successful when they are embedded within a comprehensive, articulated program of arts education. Questions about the nature of partnerships that California districts and schools have been able to form with arts organizations, and the success of these partnerships to increase students' access to a sequential standards-based course of study in the four arts disciplines, served as the impetus for this study.A team of SRI researchers conducted case studies of partnerships between districts and arts organizations in six diverse California communities in spring 2008. The case study sites were selected for their particular arts education activities and diverse contexts and, as a result, do not offer generalizable data about partnerships between school districts and arts organizations in California. Instead, we highlight the ways that a sample of partnerships promotes arts education in California elementary schools to inform others who may be interested in building partnerships between school districts and arts organizations.

Classroom Examples

An Unfinished Canvas: District Capacity and the Use of New State Funds for Arts Education in California

April 6, 2009

Questions about district leadership and capacity -- particularly in light of the new funding -- served as the impetus for this study. Through a survey of leaders in 385 districts, we assessed districts' capacity with respect to arts education, explored early spending choices, and examined the relationship between the two. We also studied changes in arts education since the new resources became available and worked to understand the barriers that continue to stand in the way of comprehensive arts education for all California students.

Student Outcomes

An Unfinished Canvas: Allocating Funding and Instructional Time for Elementary Arts Education

May 7, 2008

An Unfinished Canvas found that California's elementary schools face unique challenges inproviding all students with sequential, standards-based arts education. In particular, elementary principals identified inadequate funding and insufficient instructional time as significant barriers to the provision of arts education. For this study, we sought to further understand the impact of funding and time on elementary arts education. To do so, we examined the allocation of funding and instructional time in 10 schools across five states (Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and California).

Funding Trends; Program Models

An Unfinished Canvas: Arts Education in the San Francisco Bay Area - A Supplemental Status Report

June 15, 2007

This report complements An unfinished canvas. Arts education in California: Taking stock of policy and practices (Woodworth et al., 2007). The research supporting An Unfinished Canvas was undertaken to document the status of arts education in California schools and assess the extent to which schools were meeting state goals for arts education -- namely a sequential, standards-based course of study in music, visual arts, theatre, and dance. As part of that research effort, we included a sufficient number of schools in the nine Bay Area counties to enable us to report comparable data for each of the Bay Area counties as well as to draw comparisons between the Bay Area and the rest of the state.

Classroom Examples

An Unfinished Canvas: Arts Education in California Summary Report

March 1, 2007

Until now, California has lacked comprehensive, reliable information to indicate whetherit is meeting its goals for arts instruction. Relying on a statewide school survey (1,123respondents) and case studies of 31 schools in 13 districts, conducted in 2005-06, thisfirst-ever comprehensive study of the state of arts education in California has sought tofill that information gap by taking stock of arts education policies and practices.

Student Outcomes