School Arts Tour Celebrates Academic Art Achievement

October 22, 2012

NEW MARTINSVILLE, W.Va. – West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple continues to sing the praises of an arts education. On Monday Marple released the results of a new study that shows students who have earned art credits in high school score at more proficient levels in mathematics and reading/language arts on the WESTEST2.

Marple shared the results of the Cohort Study of Arts Participation and Academic Performance during a theatre class at Magnolia High School in Wetzel County. 

“The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) has always believed that an arts education gives students a leg up but now we have research which supports the assertion,” said Marple. “The Cohort Study of Arts Participation and Academic Performance research shows that an education that includes the arts is closely linked to almost everything that we as a state and nation say we want for our children and demand for our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement and equitable opportunity.”

The study was conducted by the WVDE Office of Research. Approximately 14,500 public high school students who stayed on course for graduation from 2007 to 2010 participated in the study.

Research shows that high school students who earned two or more arts credits were 1.6 times more likely to reach reading proficiency on the WESTEST2 and 1.3 times more likely to reach math proficiency, compared to their peers who earned only one arts credit.

Those who earned two or more arts credits also were about 1.5 times more likely to have scored at or above the national average composite score on the ACT PLAN.

These findings held true among students with disabilities and students from poverty. Student who took four or more arts credits were two times more likely to reach reading proficiency.

The research also showed that special education students and students with exceptionalities who earn two or more arts credits were two times more likely to reach proficiency.

“The arts are core academic subjects so we need to ensure that every West Virginia student receives an arts-rich education,” said Marple. “The WVDE believes that a comprehensive arts education plays a key role in meeting the needs of the whole student and provides ways to personalize learning as well.”

The WVDE continues to invest in the arts, including initiatives such as committing over a half million dollars to piloting dance in West Virginia elementary schools, offering arts classes in WVDE Institutional Programs for the first time, conducting extensive professional development for West Virginia arts teachers, and strengthening partnerships with arts organizations to provide more extended arts learning opportunities for West Virginia students.

Marple will spend the week traveling across West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle promoting the arts.  In addition to Wetzel County, Marple will visit Marshall County, Ohio County and Monongalia County schools to see firsthand the art programs that have strengthened many students’ test scores.

For more information contact the Office of Communication at 304-558-2699. 

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