Arts for All: the Vanguard Districts Case Studies

by Lynn Waldorf

Feb 14, 2009

Arts for All: The Vanguard Districts -- Case Studies from the First Five Years fills a gap in our knowledge about arts education efforts. There is a robust and rigorous body of research on the impact of arts education on students but there is sparse research on the effective strategies for implementing, sustaining and stewarding arts education efforts. Not since Arts Education Partnership's (AEP) Gaining the Arts Advantage (1999) has there been a comprehensive study of how school districts animate the arts in their schools. We believe these case studies and subsequent cross-case analyses offer new insights about the differences between planning to restore arts education and making that plan a reality.
  • Successful Strategy: The majority of Vanguard Districts (82%) joined the initiative to repair a patchwork approach to arts education, and all districts made progress in developing standards-based, sequential arts programs.
  • Successful Strategy: All Vanguard Districts developed and secured school board approval on a comprehensive multi-year district arts plan, and each district wrote arts education policy that required a long-term commitment to the objectives of the plan.
  • Successful Strategy: Districts with full-time administrators coordinating the reform efforts were generally able to progress the furthest.
  • Observation: Districts reported that their most pressing challenge was a lack of sufficient funding to implement the entire plan on the initial timeline.
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