The Ohio Department of Education and local school districts will be developing plans to implement the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) over the next few months.
The League of American Orchestras believes that ESSA provides a new opportunity to expand student access to arts and music education programs, which were marginalized under the testing and high stakes requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act and Race to the Top grant.
The League of American Orchestras has prepared Talking Points that identify certain provisions of ESSA that could be used to strengthen arts education programs. Arts education advocates should urge state and local educators and policy makers to implement these recommendations in state and local ESSA plans. The Talking Points, included below, have been adapted for discussions with policy leaders here in Ohio.
ESSA Talking Points
1) Make explicit the opportunity for the arts to help achieve Title I objectives.
“The arts and music are included as part of a “Well-Rounded Education” in federal law. This designation – alongside reading, math, science, and other subjects – is confirmation that the arts are essential to a complete education and belong in the main instructional day.”
Research shows that programs in the arts are an effective way to improve student attendance, parent engagement, school climate, and improve student outcomes in achievement, communication, problem solving, collaboration, and creativity.
2) Affirm that, “Federal education funding (such as Title I, teacher training, and school improvement) is directed to support all aspects of a well-rounded education, including all disciplines of the arts.”
3) Encourage policies in state and local plans that support professional development opportunities for arts educators and school leaders in Title II, and include arts education programs in the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program and STEM programs.
4) Recommend that the state report student access to, and participation in, the arts on the report cards for all students, and all schools and school districts.
5) Support early childhood education programs, and align Ohio’s Early Learning Standards with the federal standards.
“The arts are a key component to successful early childhood programs. Federal policy includes use of the Creative Arts Expression framework of evidence-based research as central to the implementation of early childhood education program. Similarly, ESSA implementation of Title IX should keep the arts in the definition of “Essential Domains of School Readiness” for pre-school grants.”