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A new study validates arts education programming

By Alvin Townley
Supporters of the Woodruff Arts Center invest generously to provide arts education programming to nearly 200,000 students and children each year. Yellow school buses constantly encircle the Center’s midtown campus as they bring students from 150 of the 159 counties in Georgia to experience the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and High Museum of Art.
So do these visits really matter? How do they benefit the thousands of young people who step from those busses to spend several hours immersed in the arts?
As it turns out, yes, those visits matter. Students who experience theatre, music, and visual arts through the Arts Center’s Multi-Visit Program (MVP) improve their classroom and testing performance – and learn to understand others more effectively.
Partnering with Atlanta Public School and the Woodruff Arts Center, and backed by a National Endowment for Arts grant, University of Arkansas professor Jay Green and his team of researchers found participating fourth- and fifth-grade students performed significantly better on year-end standardized testing for reading and math than their peers who didn’t benefit from the multi-visit program. The students realized other benefits, too.
“We find [experiencing the three art forms] raises math and reading test scores, reduces behavioral infractions, makes students less likely to say that school is boring, and girls who receive treatment are more conscientious (i.e. less likely to be careless in their survey answers),” explained Dr. Green.
“[Multi-visit arts education] also makes students more likely to agree that people can have different opinions about the same thing…So, treatment seems to make students more engaged in school and this may contribute to their higher test scores. It also makes them more tolerant in the sense that they see legitimacy in different perspectives.”
The results proved the value of arts education, as participating students specifically saw:

  • Increased math and reading test scores
  • Decreased behavioral infractions
  • Increased school engagement
  • Increased social perspective taking and tolerance
  • Increased survey effort for girls

Arts Center President and CEO Doug Shipman noted, “The Woodruff Arts Center is one of the only venues in the county to offer three art forms – music, theatre, and visual art – on a single campus. We are thrilled that the groundbreaking research tied to our multi-visit program confirms what educators have long known: arts experiences are an essential component of every child’s formative school experience….We are grateful to Atlanta Public Schools for is ongoing support of this initiative and hope these findings will impact field trip practices for schools and arts organizations throughout the nation.”
Learn more about the study and its results here: https://www.mdjonline.com/neighbor_newspapers/northside_sandy_springs/education/woodruff-arts-center-atlanta-public-schools-partner-on-first-field/article_75bf4136-41f4-11e9-a30c-9714eef960a7.html
 

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