From President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (2011): Source Summary

Fiske, E. (Ed.). (1999)

Champions of change: the impact of the arts on learning. Washington, DC: The Arts Education Partnership and the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities1

A compilation of seven studies that show correlations between high levels of arts participation and higher grades and test scores in math and reading. Studies also show engagement of students who are not otherwise interested in school and how the arts forge connections among students through project-based learning and collaborations.

Deasy, R.J. (Ed.). (2002)

Critical links: Learning in the arts and student achievement and social development. Washington, DC: The Arts Education Partnership2

A compendium of 62 studies representative of the best current examples. The collection focuses on the cognitive capacities that are developed by learning in the arts such as thinking skills and problem solving as well as transfer of arts skills to reading and mathematics. Studies also tracked changes in motivation to attend school and growth in student self-confidence. Taken together the studies demonstrate 65 core relationships between arts and other outcomes of interest to educators.

McCarthy, K.F. et al. (2004)

Gifts of the muse: Reframing the debate about the benefits of the arts. (2004) Santa Monica, CA: RAND3

This RAND report examines the evidence for the full range of arts’ private and public benefits and concludes that the national discussion of these benefits should place far more emphasis on the “intrinsic” pleasures of the arts that benefit not only individuals, but the public good as well. Benefits of interest to educators include focused attention, capacity for empathy, cognitive growth, social bonds, and expression of communal meaning.

Stevenson, L.M. & Deasy, R.J. (2005)

Third space: When learning matters. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership4

Findings from case studies of schools that serve at-risk students and use arts-integrated instruction describe how schools motivate improvements in reading, writing, and speaking and describe the positive inclusive environment created in the school by arts integration.

Ruppert, S. (2006)

Critical evidence: How the arts benefit student achievement. Washington, DC: National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and the Arts Education Partnership5

A summary of evidence related to the links between arts and subject area skills along with information about the place of arts within the No Child Left Behind legislation. Focuses on outcomes of academic performance and social skills.

Burnaford, G. et al. (2007)

Arts integration frameworks, research, and practice: A literature review. Washington, DC: Arts Education Partnership6

A description of the research literature related to arts integration written between 1995 and 2007. The book covers all aspects of arts integration and includes a chapter on research findings. Helpful appendices provide an inventory of arts-related academic and social outcomes in subcategories from Critical Links and an inventory of studies by discipline (e.g., visual arts, dance) within the categories of cognition and motivation.

Seidel, S. et al. (2009)

The qualities of quality: Understanding excellence in arts education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education7

Harvard Project Zero researchers explore the challenges of achieving and sustaining quality arts learning. The report includes a discussion of seven purposes of arts education, including development of habits of mind and dispositions, aesthetic awareness, engagement with civic issues, and self-development and expression. The report includes a set of tools that can assist in making decisions about achieving and sustaining quality arts education.

Asbury, C. & Rich, B. (Eds.) (2008)

Learning, arts and the brain: The Dana Consortium report on arts and cognition. New York: Dana Press8

The Dana Foundation supported neuroscientists from seven universities to conduct studies to unpack the connections between arts training and learning. The cognitive neuroscientists who participated in the study found a “tight correlation” between exposure to the arts and improved skills in several areas of cognition and attention for learning.

Winner, E. & Hetland, L. (2000)

‘The arts and academic achievement: What the evidence shows.’ Journal of Aesthetic Education, 349

A review of fifty years of studies connecting arts to academic improvement, including many unpublished papers. The authors calculated effect sizes and conducted a number of meta-analyses. The review identified a small number of studies that found reliable causal relationships between arts study and specific learning outcomes. Many studies were correlational, of course, and the researchers advocated for additional research and theory building to strengthen the field.

Catterall, J.S., Chapleau, R. & Iwanaga, J. (1999)

Involvement in the arts and success in secondary school. Included in Champions of Change (see above)10

Using the National Educational Longitudinal Survey database of 25,000 students, UCLA researchers found a correlation between students with high arts involvement and performance on standardized tests. Students who were more involved than others in the arts watched less TV, were less likely to be bored in school and more likely to participate in community service. Students with high involvement in the arts across the socio-economic strata performed better in school and stayed in school longer than students with low involvement.

Catterall, J.S., & Waldorf, L. (1999)

Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education: Summary evaluation. Included in Champions of Change (see above)11

Researchers studied the impact of CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education) over a six year period, reviewing test scores as well as using surveys of students and teachers. Student achievement data over the years favored the CAPE schools compared to other Chicago public schools. CAPE schools outscored the other schools on over fifty comparisons.

Noblit et al. (2009)

Creating and sustaining arts-based school reform: The A+ schools program. New York: Routledge12

Nelson, C.A. (2001)

The arts and education reform: Lessons from a 4-year pilot of the A+ schools program. Greensboro, NC: Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts13

There are many studies that have been conducted about the A+ school experience, most of them by the team of Noblit, Wilson and Corbett. Descriptive studies of implementation, partnership, networking, and professional development have been conducted along with studies of student, teacher, school, and community effects. Studies have identified the essential ingredients of A+ schools that produce outcomes and documented the effectiveness of A+ as a school reform model, especially in schools where there are substantial numbers of economically disadvantaged students.

Heath, S. B, Soep, E., & Roach, A. (1998).

Living the arts through language-learning: A report on community-based organizations. Washington, DC: Americans for the Arts 2(7)14

Anthropologist Heath conducted a ten-year study in 120 community-based organizations to find out what students were doing in their non-school hours and determine what difference that time might make in student outcomes. By year seven of the study, Heath had discovered that children engaged in the arts were showing positive outcomes and she took a deeper look, finding that students in arts programs significantly benefited in terms of motivation, persistence, critical analysis, and planning.


Compiled by Mandy Stefanakis, May 2013. Entered on Knowledge Base 31 October 2013. Appended to The Global Perspective on Music in Education but shown separately to limit the length of the paper.


  9. Readily available in preview only.↩︎
  10. pp 1-18.↩︎
  11. pp 47-62.↩︎
  12. Available as eBook.↩︎
  14. Difficult to access site.↩︎

Mandy Stefanakis is a sessional lecturer in music education at Deakin University. She was previously Director of Music at Christ Church Grammar School and Essex Heights Primary School. She is a member of the Advisory Council of The Music Trust, Assistant Editor of the Trust’s e-zine Loudmouth, past-President and a Life Member of the Association of Music Educators. She lectured in music education at the University of Melbourne where she received her Master of Education degree. She has contributed to many arts curriculum initiatives and conducted professional development to assist implement these curricula over several decades. Mandy is the author of the Australian music focused education kits, Turn it Up! She has conducted extensive interviews for the National Film and Sound Archive, is an avid composer and her obsession with piano and cello continues.

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