Evaluation of school-based arts education programs in Australian schools

26 Oct 2007

This evaluation of four Australian school-based arts programs found that, although there was no evidence of improvement in academic progress, involvement in arts programs has a positive impact on students' engagement with learning and often leads to improved attendance at school.Participation in school-based arts education programs can have a positive impact on students' engagement with learning, according to recent ACER research. However, there was little statistical evidence of improvement in academic progress as a result of participation in arts education. Jennifer Bryce reports on the study.

Anecdotal evidence from Australian arts programs and overseas studies suggest that exposure to the arts provides positive general learning outcomes, particularly for young people who are Indigenous, in remote or regional communities or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Four Australian school-based arts programs were evaluated, with a focus on the following questions:

* What is the impact of each arts program on participating students' academic progress, engagement with learning and attendance at school?

* Are empirical or anecdotal examples of improved learning outcomes substantiated?

* What are the attributes of arts programs that are of particular benefit to students?

Four schools were selected for the study because they were seen as examples of good practice that might substantiate claims that exposure to the arts provides positive general learning outcomes. There was a range of ages and a diverse range of backgrounds among the participating students. Data were taken from a range of sources, including administrative records, interviews, observations, questionnaires and tests and other assessments administered as part of the study.

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