Arts Education Status Report Released: Equity Gaps Remain - (April 2, 2012)

Arts Education Status Report Released: Equity Gaps Remain

Washington, D.C. - This morning, the U.S. Department of Education released the long-awaited results of the Fast Response Statistical Survey’s (FRSS) Report on Arts Education, based on data gathered in the 2009-2010 school year. The arts education community – and the League in particular – has long called for federal data collection to be more comprehensive in scope and depth and that data be collected more frequently. While the FRSS report does not provide a complete picture of the status of arts education, it does provide some valuable new information and an opportunity to provoke a public conversation about arts education. A few key findings:

  • More than 90% of our nation’s public elementary and secondary schools offer some form of music instruction. At the elementary level, that includes a majority of students receiving music instruction at least once a week by a certified art or music teacher. This is a strong testament to effective advocacy for arts education programs across the country during the onset of the recession and in the wake of reading and math accountability demands on public schools.

  • Although music is widely available in some form, six percent of the nation’s public elementary schools offer no specific instruction in music, nine percent of public secondary schools reported that they did not offer music, and only 15 percent of elementary schools offered music instruction at least three times per week.

  • It is clear that there are critical equity gaps in student access to a quality arts education in all arts disciplines. These gaps must be addressed if students are to have access to a complete education. The FRSS report shows that the percentage of schools offering music education declines as the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch increases. In other words, schools with a higher concentration of students in poverty were less likely to offer music education. Likewise, among elementary schools offering music education, the presence of music specialists declines as the school’s poverty rate increases. This is sobering news, just as a separate new report from the National Endowment for the Arts underscores the significant academic, workforce, and civic engagement gains associated with high levels of arts exposure for youth of lower socioeconomic status.

The League has been working with its national partners to create a toolkit to help orchestras and the broader arts community understand and communicate about the Snapshot FRSS results and will make these tools available online soon. In the meantime, find the full report online and view the League's music education advocacy tools to learn what kind of steps you can take at the local level to advance the status of arts education in public schools.