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The Arts Advantage: Expanding Arts Education in the Boston Public Schools

Published: February 2009

Publisher(s): Boston Foundation

Author(s): Gittleman, Julia; Laura Perille

Funder(s): Barr Foundation, Boston Foundation, EdVestors, Hunt Alternatives Fund, Linde Family Foundation

Related Organization(s): Boston Public Schools, Mendelsohn, Gittleman & Associates, LLC

View Report (60 pages; 907KB; PDF)

Area of Focus: Arts Education

Abstract

The report documents findings from a 2008 survey about arts education in Boston Public Schools. It presents recommendations and expansion strategies as the framework for a three-year implementation plan.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

=A majority of K-5 (76%) and K-8 (81%) students received the initial benchmark of once weekly, year-long arts instruction, whereas this was true for only 48% of students in middle schools serving Grades 6-8.

=Only 5% of all Boston Public School (BPS) elementary students and 6% of all middle school students receive the “best practice” benchmark of twice weekly, year-long arts instruction.

=Schools identified the top barriers to increasing arts education as: 1) limitations to the school budget (91%); 2) lack of public or private external funding (60%); and 3) lack of time in the school day (46%).

=While staffing levels are similar, comparable district arts offices in Seattle and Memphis have budgets that are roughly four times that of Boston.

=Recommendations include: 1) expanding equity and access with a three-year goal of getting 100% of all students, through Grade 8, to the initial benchmark of once weekly, year-long arts instruction by 2012; 2) building district capacity; 3) launching the BPS Arts Expansion Fund to raise $1.5 million over three years in additional private philanthropic funding; and 4) convening a new BPS Arts Advisory Board to oversee arts expansion efforts.

Focus: Boston

Subjects/Keywords: Arts Education; Elementary and Secondary Education

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
Challenge

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