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Dance Instruction on Life Support in U.S. Elementary Schools?

Only 3 percent of public elementary schools offered formalized dance instruction during the 2009-10 school year, compared to 20 percent a decade earlier, according to a federal report on arts instruction issued this month.

Drama/theater trailed close behind dance instruction, with only 4 percent of elementary schools specifically offering it, according to the report. Like dance instruction, 20 percent of elementary schools offered drama/theater in the 1999-2000 school year.

At the other end of the spectrum, 94 percent of elementary schools offered music instruction and 83 percent offered visual arts instruction in 2009-10, suggesting, as my colleague Erik Robelen wrote recently, that "rumors of the death in arts education in public schools have been greatly exaggerated."

Jane Bonbright, the executive director of the National Dance Education Organization, pointed out to Erik that dance isn't typically taught as a separate subject. Instead, she advised paying attention to the percentage of schools that integrated it into the school day.

In that regard, 61 percent of elementary schools reported integrating dance into any other subject or curriculum area in the 2009-10 school year. Still, the number of elementary schools integrating dance had fallen from the 1999-2000 school year, when 66 percent of schools reported doing so. Most of these schools integrated dance into their physical education programs, although many integrated dance into their music curriculum, too.

For more on the report, read Erik's story from the latest issue of Education Week.

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