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Schools Adding Time to Teach the Arts

The arts—said to be neglected by schools since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 pressured them to focus on literacy and mathematics instruction—may no longer be side-swiped for other disciplines.

Some expanded learning time schools are now using their longer school days not just for additional instruction in math, reading, and the like, but for arts education (dance, drawing, theater, and music), according to a new report released by the Boston-based National Center on Time & Learning.

The report, which received support from the Wallace Foundation, profiles five schools, which serve mostly low-income students, that have prioritized arts education as a key component of their students' education when they redesigned their school day. In addition to added time for the arts, appropriate staffing and resources have been dedicated accordingly, the report says, as the schools see the arts as valuable to improving student engagement in school in addition to achievement in other subjects. (The Wallace Foundation also underwrites coverage of arts education and expanded learning time in Education Week.)

The profiled schools are:
Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School in Adams, Mass.
Clarence Edwards Middle School in Boston
Metropolitan Arts and Technology Charter High School in San Francisco
Cole Arts and Sciences Academy in Denver
Roger Williams Middle School in Providence, R.I.

At the Cole Arts and Sciences Academy, for example, students choose eight-week electives in a variety of arts disciplines that have included computer drawing or photography.

"The two arenas of academics (ELA and math) and the arts are often positioned as competitors in a kind of zero-sum game, rather than as partners in a potential educational synergy that holds both intrinsic and instrumental benefits for students," the report says. "Arts education, when it is approached with the seriousness of purpose exemplified by the schools profiled in this report, can be a powerful medium through which students come to love learning, strive for excellence, and imagine a fulfilling, purposeful life."

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