Officials say arts education may raise test scores

From staff and wire service reports
October 22nd, 2012

Arts education may help students boost test scores, according to a study.

West Virginia high school students who take more than the required amount of arts classes scored better on math and reading portions of the Westest than students who did not, according to a study scheduled for release today.

“Students who earn 2 or more arts credits during high school were about 1.3 to 1.6 times more likely to score at proficient levels for mathematics and reading/language arts,” the study states.

Conducted by the Office of Research within the state Department of Education, the study includes information from 14,653 public high school students between 2007 and 2010. Researchers considered any music, visual or performance arts courses for the study.

The study also found students with more arts credits performed better on the ACT PLAN exam, a preparatory test before students take the actual ACT.

Researchers couldn’t say why the correlation exists. State education officials, however, are confident the arts are linked with better academic performance.

“The WVDE believes that a broad curriculum that is arts-rich (as well as having foreign language, movement, etc.), does lead directly to higher student achievement, as indicated by measures such as the Westest2,” Superintendent Jorea Marple said in an emailed statement.

The department is releasing the study as Marple visits several arts programs across the state. She is scheduled to be at an art class at Magnolia High School in New Martinsville today. More stops in Wetzel, Marshall and Ohio counties are scheduled for the week.

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5 Responses to “Officials say arts education may raise test scores”

October 22, 2012

I would like to think there is causation here, but it could simply be that higher performing students are more likely to take arts courses. Look at any chorus or band and you will likely see students who are not poor. They will also have parents who encourage and support the arts at home and expect kids to be in at least one performing group. These same parents also tend to support reading at home.

This is one of those “Well DUH!” sort of conclusions by officials who have been ignoring professional educators for years. We have sacrificed art, music, and for that matter wood and metal shop classes at the altar of “high achievement” on standardized tests in reading, writing, and math. The consequence is that we have kids whose creative skills are stunted, retarded, or gone entirely and therefore, they haven’t the slightest idea how to solve a problem that has not been presented to them in a test prep class.

We are depriving our children of the OPPORTUNITY to apply knowledge creatively in novel and unique situations. Therefore, they are stymied when they are confronted with a test question that does not look familiar.

The consequences are greater than just the loss of creative talent in the fine and performing arts. They also include the loss of a generation of creative problem solvers at a time when our nation needs creative solutions to a broader range of problems than we have ever faced.

I agree with the above comment – correlation does not necessarily mean cause and effect. Students who take more than the minimum requirements are more informed and are generally better achievers.

October 23, 2012

The Arts stimulate different parts of the brain than maths and sciences. There is significant research that suggests that playing a musical instrument has a similar positive impact on learning. I would suspect this should extend into the fine arts as well. Essentially, becoming skilled in a wider variety of skills and a broader range of experiences will provide a student with more points or hooks to attach new information to helping them categorize and understand it more quickly than those that don’t.