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Spring 2003 Vol. 10. No. 3 Focus on Standardized Tests

Theme articles

Testing and the squeeze on arts programs

By by Aldustus Jordan on Mar 13, 2003 12:00 AM

"The reason why the arts are not valued more is because when many people think of the arts in public schools they only see kids singing and children painting and don't make the connection between the arts and improvements in academics, behavior, attendance, and overall involvement in school," says a Philadelphia elementary school principal.

A recent study by Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY) explains, "The arts have been found to stimulate, develop and refine cognitive and creative skills, to increase student motivation, improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and make learning more enjoyable among all students."

Studies have consistently found that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds who are involved in the arts earn better test scores and grades, are less likely to drop out of school, are less likely to become bored in school, and are more likely to be involved in community service as compared to their peers who are not involved in the arts.

Yet in Philadelphia the role of the arts has been diminished in recent years. The PCCY study found that 82 Philadelphia schools lacked a full-time art teacher and 83 schools lacked a full-time music teacher

In Philadelphia, like most districts, the core academic subjects are assessed by standardized tests but no similar assessments exist for music and art. The majority of principals are forced to make tough budget choices each year, and the arts are often sacrificed so that scarce resources are spent on tested areas.


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