New Survey Data Out on Arts Educators, Science Students

By Erik W. Robelen — February 05, 2010 2 min read
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I’ve been seeing quite a few reports lately that seek to capture what people in education, whether students, teachers, or administrators, really think. Yesterday, I blogged about a Gallup poll of principals’ views on the effects of recess. (Most think it improves student achievement.)

Today, I’ll turn to surveys of arts educators and science students. First, the arts. This report and survey, funded by the National Art Education Foundation, seeks to move beyond the conventional wisdom that the No Child Left Behind Act is crowding out things like art and music instruction in schools. It surveyed a random sample of more than 3,000 arts educators across the country, mostly at the K-12 level, to learn about their experiences and impressions.

The findings were a bit more nuanced than the conventional wisdom. In the areas of staffing, teaching loads, and enrollment, arts education programs have experienced “limited negative consequences” because of the federal law, with its heavy emphasis on test scores in math and English/language arts, a summary of the findings said.

More specifically:
• 68 percent said the number of art teachers in their district stayed about the same;
• 65 percent said teaching loads stayed about the same; and
• 62 percent said enrollments stayed about the same.

However, the survey data suggests that NCLB has “created a number of negative effects” on art education programs in the areas of scheduling, increased workload, and funding, the summary says. For instance, 43 percent reported decreases in all or some areas of arts education funding. Also, about two-thirds said art schedules had been affected, with 47 percent reporting increased “interruptions, conflicts, and problems.”

Overall, the majority of arts educators said they do not believe NCLB has helped students become better learners, but they did suggest some aspects of arts education experienced positive effects. “As a group, art educators feel that NCLB has contributed to making them become more reflective about their programs and teaching,” the summary says.

There’s a ton of information in the full survey report. Check it out to learn more.

Now, to the survey on science. This online poll, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Society for Quality, asked some 1,100 students in grades 3-12 to rate their science teachers in several areas, using letter grades.

Overall, the students seem to think their teachers know a lot about their subject, with 85 percent giving them either an A or B on this point. About two-thirds say their science teachers making the subject “exciting and fun” to learn.

However, the grades dropped considerably when students were asked whether their teachers talk about engineering as a future career. Here, 63 percent of teachers got a C or lower. (This question was only posed to students in grades 7-12.) Teachers got higher marks on whether they show students how science can be used in a future job or career, with 58 percent getting an A or B.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.