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Students from Fuller Elementary perform at Ingenuity’s 2016 Music Summit // credit: Susan Ryan Photography

Building Capacity to Expand Arts Education Across Chicago Public Schools

Arts education not only correlates with improved grades and test scores but studies report that arts education programs are beneficial to shaping children’s social and emotional learning as well.

Arts curriculum may improve children’s relationships with peers, teachers and family and enhance communication, emotional management and self-understanding. Children who are have arts-related opportunities show a stronger motivation to learn and have fewer disciplinary issues. A National Endowment for the Arts study, that specifically assessed the impact of the arts on economically disadvantaged students, found better academic results, improved workforce opportunities, more civic engagement, and that students were more likely to plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree than peers with no or little access to the arts. Yet, when budgets are lean, arts programs often are often the first to be sacrificed.

Chicago is trying to reverse this trend. The 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan and Chicago Public Schools Arts Education Plan are examples of how the city is spurring efforts to prioritize arts education. Art is now recognized as a core subject. Elementary schools must dedicate two hours weekly to the arts. In the 2015-16 academic year, 59% of reporting elementary schools met that requirement, up from 40% just three years prior. High school graduation requirements also have expanded to include the arts. Moreover, arts instruction is a criterion for school and district progress. Through its support of initiatives such as the Creative Schools Fund and Ingenuity, CFP strives to advance policies and strengthen organizations to better ensure access to quality arts education in Chicago.

The Creative Schools Fund (CSF) is a district-wide funding partnership between Chicago Public Schools and Ingenuity, Chicago’s hub for data, strategy, advocacy and partnerships related to arts education. The collaboration strives to expand arts education access by mobilizing arts-focused investments in schools. Managed by Ingenuity, CSF provides resources so schools can bring excellent and sustainable art education to all students. The programs are developed in cooperation with arts partners, teachers and school leaders.

The Creative Schools Fund is aligned with the Creative Schools Certification, an innovative and leading effort in arts education data collection. The Creative Schools Certification process helps individual schools plan for arts learning and track progress over time. The data collected helps the Creative Schools Fund target schools with the greatest need and opportunity to reach as many students as possible.

The Creative Schools Fund and its aligned efforts are helping ensure that every Chicago Public School student can benefit from arts education and access enriching arts experiences.

Sources: http://www.ingenuity-inc.org/resources-for-arts-education-2; http://www.ingenuity-inc.org/data