Third graders who had the arts integrated into their regular curriculum showed remarkable improvement on standardized test scores, researchers have announced. They described what they called an “astonishing” 87-point average gain on the state standardized reading test for third graders in 2010-11.
The Developing Reading Education with Arts Methods, or DREAM, program is in its third year of operation in 10 school districts, funded by a nearly $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and led by California State University San Marcos and the San Diego County Office of Education.
It trains third- and fourth-grade teachers to integrate the arts into their lessons and sends artists into the classroom to provide weekly coaching.
“By using everything from performance to puppetry, CSUSM faculty helped local elementary school teachers create lessons to boost reading,” said CSUSM President Karen Haynes. “The results are why we are all here today. Standardized test scores for students in the program improved nearly 90 points in just two years … Clearly, using theater to teach literacy is an especially effective tool and one that deserves continued exploration.”