The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) considers arts and music to be essential components of “a well-rounded education” and offers funding to help state and local education agencies teach them in their schools. In order to access this funding, however, education agencies must show evidence that the programs and activities they propose can affect student outcomes.
Researchers from the American Institutes for Research scoured through hundreds of reports to find arts education interventions that meet the standards of evidence that ESSA requires. This report explains ESSA standards and cites 88 studies that make a range of arts-education activities eligible for ESSA.
These activities focus on art forms such as visual arts, music, dance and drama. Among them are arts courses, supplies, professional development for teachers, supports for English learners and extended-learning-time programs. All of the studies cited by the report’s authors show improvements in student outcomes, such as reading, writing, math and social and emotional learning.
Authors warn, however, that educators must be careful instituting such activities in their schools. Many activities that qualify for ESSA may not fit the needs of the schools in which they are placed. It is necessary to carefully consider the goals for an arts education effort and select only the activities that help meet those goals.
This report is one of several products Wallace has commissioned or prepared to help educators make sense of ESSA’s evidence requirements.