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Use of Arts as Unifying Force To Be Studied

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The College Board and the Getty Center for Education in the Arts have joined forces to study how the arts could act as a unifying force for a cross-disciplinary approach to high school teaching.

The joint project, announced last month, will spend six months studying schools currently experimenting with cross-disciplinary curricula, and then develop and test model programs.

"The arts curriculum is weakest at the high school level,'' said Judith Renyi, the director of the project. "It is the least taken, there is the least room for it, and there is the least money for it.''

The need for a cross-disciplinary approach is cited by teachers nationwide, Ms. Renyi said. "When you ask teachers, no holds barred, what needs to be done in curricula, you get the same answer: We need to connect the different disciplines,'' she explained.

The need for such connections becomes even more vital, she suggested, as national efforts are under way to develop standards for nearly a dozen disciplines. (See Education Week, Jan. 19, 1994.)

"There's an awful lot of stuff being piled up on schools,'' Ms. Renyi said. "Without coordination, we'll get a curriculum that's overloaded, and some important standards will fall through the cracks.''

Following a nationwide survey of existing programs, seven schools will be invited to participate in the research project.

A 14-member national advisory committee will help steer the project and select participating schools. Although specific application guidelines have not yet been written, project officials said they are looking for programs that already have demonstrated some cross-disciplinary success.

"You need powerful examples of how the arts can serve as the glue or unifying concept for a curriculum,'' said Stephen M. Dobbs, the president of the Marin Community Foundation in Larkspur, Calif., and a member of the advisory panel.

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