Tuesday, June 16, 2009

From the NEA Morning Update: June 16

NAEP: Little Progress Seen In Middle-Schoolers' Music, Visual Arts Knowledge.
USA Today (6/16, Toppo) reports, "New data out today from [ED]'s National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, may make America's arts instructors kind of blue: In the past decade or so, middle-schoolers have made little progress in how much they know about music and visual arts." Yet, the data "also suggest that educators' fears about the arts being squeezed out of public schools may be unfounded - at least for older students. Middle-school administrators polled as part of the tests say students are just as likely to have received regular instruction in music and arts in 2008 as in 1997." This suggests that NCLB "may not have adversely affected middle schoolers' instruction time in the arts, as many critics worried."
The New York Times (6/16, A12, Dillon) adds that the NAEP survey released on Monday "was conducted as part of a nationwide test of music and arts achievement administered last year. ... Previous studies have contradicted one another. Some found that art, music, history and other classes were being taught less frequently as schools focused on reading and math, since the [NCLB] holds schools accountable for test results in only those subjects." However, a "study by the Government Accountability Office reported in February that the time devoted to arts instruction had remained constant in recent years."
In a similar vein Education Week (6/16, Zehr) reports, "About the same share of 8th graders attend schools where music and visual-arts instruction are offered as a decade ago...about half" as NEAP reports "57 percent of 8th graders in 2008 attended schools where music instruction was provided at least three or four times a week, while 47 percent went to schools where visual-arts instruction was offered at least as often." NCES commissioner Stuart Kerachsky said the report does not "provide evidence to fuel 'a concern expressed that schools are cutting out music or other arts,'" though he also said the study "gives information only about school offerings...not about how many students in those schools actually take part in arts education." Kerachsky also said that "the NCES soon plans to conduct fast-response surveys of arts administrators or providers, including music specialists, principals, and classroom teachers, to understand better what such programs offer."

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