Benefits of Arts Education

Advocating for Strings
The American String Teachers Association (ASTA) has released an advocacy video emphasizing the benefits of playing a string or musical instrument. In addition to interviewing ASTA leaders, “Advocating for Strings” also provides students an opportunity to encourage their peers to get involved in string competitions at a national level. The 10-minute video is available on the ASTA website or in hard copy at no charge for individual, institutional, and council members of ASTA.

The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth
The National Endowment for the Arts released a research report indicating several positive outcomes associated with high levels of arts exposure for youth of low socioeconomic status. According to a study led by James S. Catterall of four separate longitudinal studies, at-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school appear to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement than at-risk students who do not.
The Arts Education Partnership has newly launched, a digital clearinghouse of research and policy information about the educational outcomes of arts learning, both in and out of school. contains 200 summaries of high quality research studies that include all arts forms and all levels of education.

Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning
In this report, researchers examined a variety of arts education programs (including in-school and out-of-school) and found common conclusions. The executive report provides a snapshot, including the following findings:

  • The arts reach students who are not otherwise being reached.
  • The arts transform the environment for learning.
  • The arts provide learning opportunities for the adults in the lives of young people.
  • The arts connect learning experiences to the world of real work.

Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement
Why is it so important to keep the arts strong in our schools? How does the study of the arts contribute to student achievement and success? These and other important questions are addressed in this publication by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) in collaboration with the Arts Education Partnership (AEP).

Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development
Critical Links is a review of studies that address the impact of arts education on student academic performance and social development, including helpful research regarding the impact of arts education for at-risk students. This research compendium finds that, "for certain populations--including young children, students from economically disadvantaged circumstances, and students needing remedial instruction--learning in the arts may be uniquely able to advance learning success in other areas."

Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art
In this report, James Catterall presents empirical evidence demonstrating the important role of the arts in student success in school and in life.  Examining an additional ten years of data on 12,000 students originally studied in the 1999 AEP publication, Champions of Change, Catterall produces longitudinal data demonstrating the significant impact of an “arts rich” education on underserved students and English language learners.

Gaining the Arts Advantage: Lessons from School Districts that Value Arts Education
This report identifies success factors common among school districts that support the arts. The central finding: "The single most critical factor in sustaining arts education in their schools is the active involvement of influential segments of the community in shaping and implementing the policies and programs of the district." (Including the involvement of arts organizations!)

The Impact of Arts Education on Workforce Preparation
NASAA and the National Governors' Association (NGA) produced this report to showcase the positive outcomes of integrating the arts into schooling and youth intervention programs. This report is designed to help governors and their top policy advisors learn about how the arts contribute to economic development and community vitality.

Music Matters: How Music Education Helps Students Learn, Achieve, and Succeed
Building on the first release of Music Matters in 2011, the Arts Education Partnership reviewed multiple research studies identified within ArtsEdSearch — the national clearinghouse of rigorous arts education research — to explore the importance of music on student learning outcomes. This updated resource explores the demonstrated effects of music education and how it helps students develop the foundational capacities for lifelong success. Download a free PDF version of this publication and add it to your arsenal of music education advocacy tools today!

New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce
The arts prepare students for success in school, work and life. The 2006 report from the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, a bipartisan assembly of Education Secretaries, state officials and business leaders, said in its executive summary, “The best employers the world over will be looking for the most competent, most creative and most innovative people on the face of the earth and will be willing to pay them top dollar for their services.”  The report points to the arts as an essential skill for the future workforce.

Third Space: When Learning Matters
Schools with large populations of students in economic poverty can be transformed into vibrant and successful centers of learning and community life when the arts are infused into their culture and curriculum. Third Space: When Learning Matters, the newest publication from the Arts Education Partnership, draws on current research in cognitive science, student engagement, and youth development to explore how and why the arts have enabled the schools to succeed where others often fail.