Monday, January 26, 2015

Turnaround Arts programs in high-poverty, low-performing schools produce positve results

The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities has published an interim report on its signature initiative, Turnaround Arts.
Turnaround Arts works with local program partners to provide arts education resources to clusters of high-poverty, low-performing schools in their region. Local partners include state arts agencies, schools districts, foundation and educational organizations. This shared leadership structure provides powerful tools to a critical mass of our highest-needs schools, while building local, sustainable structures and expertise for a lasting impact on students.

Authored by an evaluation team from Booz Allen Hamilton and the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago, the report examines progress indicators for Turnaround Arts schools in their first year. It includes a summary of the evaluation, a preliminary description of how different schools are implementing arts education as part of their larger turnaround efforts, and a summary of school reform indicators and student achievement data in Turnaround Arts schools.

Although the data is still preliminary, the report notes that there were “many ways in which the Turnaround Arts schools saw positive change as a result of being part of this initiative.” The researchers point to shifts in school culture and climate, positive perceptions by teachers and students and increased school morale. In evaluating school reform indicators, the Progress Report notes that more than half of Turnaround Arts schools increased daily attendance, a chronic problem in low-performing schools. Similarly, disciplinary incidents were substantially decreased in a majority of Turnaround Arts schools, some by as much as 69-79 percent.

Looking at baseline data in academic achievement, the report indicates that all but one of Turnaround Arts schools improved their overall scores in math, and all but one improved their overall scores in reading. All Turnaround Arts schools improved their scores in either reading or math. When compared to low-performing schools in their state or district which are part of a larger School Improvement Grant program, five out of seven Turnaround Arts schools (70%) had higher growth in reading, while a little less than half of them had higher growth in math.

Overall, the Report notes “many hopeful signs about the potential of this work to positively influence student experience, student engagement, school culture, and school outcomes.”

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