Where Are the Arts in California Schools?

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — October 20, 2016 1 min read
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In California, charter schools, schools enrolling high numbers of low-income students, rural schools, and schools where most students are either Hispanic or African-American are more likely to not offer any arts courses.

And while the vast majority of California’s middle and high school students have access to at least one kind of arts class, just 12 percent of middle and high schools offer all four artistic disciplines (music, visual art, theatre, and dance).

Those are some of the findings from the California Arts Education Data Project, which was released today. It’s part of the National Arts Education Data Project, a national project to determine which students have access to arts education.

The data were released on a dashboard that aims to let schools, districts, and the state determine how to improve access to arts. It includes data on approximately 3 million California 6-12 graders, and includes information for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

Twenty-five states have some sort of arts education survey, according to the National Arts Education Data Project, but they vary in depth and detail.

The California report tracks both enrollment in arts classes and the availability of those classes at a given school. That’s a newer development in arts education surveys: Prior to this survey, New Jersey was the only state that tracked both access to and participation in arts classes around the state. Bob Morrison, a research director with Quadrant Research, which works with the Arts Education Data Project, said in a press release that in New Jersey, tracking participation in the arts had led to an increase in participation over time.

Individual districts have been attempting to improve disparities in access to arts programs in recent years. Chicago, Dallas, Austin, and Boston are among the cities where either the school district or private organizations have surveyed schools’ arts programs in the interest of promoting equity in the arts.

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