Neuroscience studies demonstrate that arts education can have a significant impact on brain development. Music training helps with the development of phonological awareness and spatial-temporal reasoning, helping with reading skills, while children who practiced a specific art form improved their attention skills and general intelligence. Links also exist between high levels of music training and the ability to manipulate information in both working memory and long-term memory.

Studies cited in the report show that arts integration leads to better attendance and fewer discipline problems, as well as increased graduation rates, especially for economically disadvantaged students. This information comes at a time when the national dropout rate has fluctuated between 25 and 30 percent since 2001, while some demographic groups have far higher rates. Approximately 50 percent of males from economically disadvantaged groups are estimated to leave high school before graduation, while 2 million students attend what federal officials call “dropout factories.”

PCAH developed the report after 18 months of school visits, interviews with educational leaders, and reviews of recent research. The panel concluded that arts education is a boon for the private sector—business leaders are looking for innovation and creativity from their employees—and is an important way to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s careers.

“We know that education is key to winning the future and that, to compete, we must challenge ourselves to improve educational outcomes for our children,” said Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “The administration recognizes the powerful role that the arts education strategies presented in this report can play in closing the achievement gap, improving student engagement, and building creativity and innovative thinking skills.”

PCAH plans to spend the next year presenting the report’s findings to policy makers, superintendents, principals, and educators and exploring ways to implement its recommendations.

For more on fostering creativity among students:

How—and why—to teach innovation in our schools

Putting our ideas of assessment to the test

New tool shows how arts education boosts 21st century skills

Sowing the seeds of creativity