Teaching Artists and the Future of Education

A Report on the Teaching Artist Research Project
By NORC at the University of Chicago August 2011

“Prior studies have provided strong evidence that arts education has powerful positive effects on student achievement and outcomes. NORC’s new study offers hope to schools struggling to preserve arts education programs and to policy-makers searching for effective education strategies to improve schools.”


By 1982 65% of 18 year olds had taken any classes or lessons in any art form during their childhood. By 2008, and throughout a period of heightened concern and effort to improve schools, particularly those serving low-income children, it had dropped below half again, and the decline shows no sign of abating.

Among the art forms, the decline has been most serious in music and visual art, the two disciplines most commonly taught in schools. Theater and dance, which are taught rarely in schools, are actually up slightly since 1982.

It would seem logical that any strategy to reverse the broad decline in arts education, any effort to distribute arts education more equitably in American schools, or any effort to extend the successes of arts education programs in schools would include teaching artists (TAs) as a critical element.

Schools need full-time arts faculty, and those that have arts specialists need TAs as well. Provision of a reasonable dose of arts education for all students is clearly beyond the capacity of the low numbers of specialists in most schools. They need to be supplemented. It is time to move beyond the either/or choice between arts specialists and TAs. There is simply no way to expand arts education for all children in schools without the development of TAs as a resource.

There is a section on “What is good teaching?” that points out the characteristics of good teaching are what teaching artists and arts specialists are doing in the classroom. I highly recommend this report to everyone involved in arts education for the background info, research findings and the recommendations.

Executive Summary and Final Report are available at this link.

1 thought on “Teaching Artists and the Future of Education

  1. Pingback: Arts and the Adoption of Common Core in Montana | arts counterbalance

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