Advancing Arts Education through an Expanded School Day: Lessons from Five Schools

by David Farbman; Dennie Palmer Wolf; Diane Sherlock

Jun 4, 2013

In schools across the country, educators recognize the power of the arts to change young lives. They know that students' sustained engagement with enriching, high-quality experiences in the arts promotes essential skills and perspectives -- like the capacity to solve problems, express ideas, harness and hone creativity, and persevere toward a job well done. And yet today, educators at many schools that operate with conventional schedules are forced to choose between offering their students valuable opportunities to pursue the arts and focusing on other rigorous core classes that also are necessary for success in the 21st century. This study, which highlights an exciting new approach, is produced by the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL), an organization dedicated to expanding learning time to improve student achievement and enable a well-rounded education, with support from The Wallace Foundation, a national philanthropy seeking to improve education and enrichment for disadvantaged children. In these pages, we present portraits of five schools that are advancing arts education through an expanded school day as they create vibrant and inclusive models of truly enriching education for all students.
  • Observation: Profiled schools treat arts classes as a core feature of their educational program, as opposed to "specials". Specialist arts teachers do not occupy a lower place in the tacit hierarchy.
  • Observation: The schools devote at least one hour -- and in some cases closer to three -- a day to classes in the arts. In four of the five schools, all students participate in the arts.
  • Observation: Methods to raise the caliber of arts education include hiring talented artists who are also competent educators, holding these teachers to equally high performance expectations as academic teachers, and bringing in community partners.
  • Observation: Students are better motivated if their arts programs are based on choice, and if they are able to follow paths of increasing difficulty where they can continuously hone their talents.
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