ALEXANDRIA, Virginia — Since 2013, school and community leaders in Chicago have had a resource that measures arts opportunities for students in Chicago Public Schools, and now educators in six more cities will have access to the same kinds of data.
Ingenuity — a Chicago arts education advocacy group that created the tool, called Artlook — is working with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as part of its Any Given Child initiative, to expand the platform to Jacksonville, Florida; Baltimore; New Orleans; Houston; Portland, Oregon; and Sacramento, California. Any Given Child focuses on getting key leaders outside of the arts community, such as mayors and school superintendents, involved in supporting arts education.
The expansion comes as arts educators are calling for more ways to produce data about the benefits of arts programming for students and as some states are beginning to include participation in the arts as part of their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans.
Artlook was created to connect schools looking for arts education programs for their students with arts organizations looking for partnerships with schools, Steve Shewfelt, the director of data and research for Ingenuity, explained Thursday during a breakout session at the Arts Education Partnership annual conference.
The Artlook program combines administrative and school-level data, provided by an arts liaison in each school, with information on arts organizations that offer programs for students.
The Cathedral Arts Project (CAP) in Jacksonville was one of the organizations that were struggling to collect and communicate accurate data about arts programming, explained Allison Galloway-Gonzalez, the chief program officer for CAP, which is one of 27 communities participating in Any Given Child.
"My reports were essay-based because I didn’t have the data," she said. "I really needed some metrics to measure my own work."
And at the Kennedy Center, Jeanette McCune, the director of school and community programs, was seeing these same issues in the other Any Given Child sites. Communities took different approaches to collecting data, making it difficult for the Kennedy Center to compare what was happening across communities as well as to understand how complex arts education efforts were in each site.
Fortunately, Ingenuity had already tackled many of these challenges, Shewfelt explained. The Artlook collection process is uniform, allowing educators to compare data. The organization also produces an Artlook map and an annual districtwide State of the Arts report.
Before the Artlook tool, "We could tell great stories, but we couldn’t back those stories up," Shewfelt added. And information on why some schools have specific arts initiatives and others don't was haphazard.
For example, maybe a principal transferred to another school, and the arts partner went with him or her. Or maybe when a community organization reached out to the schools, the one they ended up partnering with was the only one that "picked up the phone," he said, adding that the tool has been a way to "make more systematic the approach to filling those gaps."
The organization also created a Creative Schools Certification, and the level that each school has attained in that system — from emerging through excelling — appears on school report cards.
For now, the other cities joining the effort — which will require start-up fees and licensing costs — will report the same data as CPS schools do, but they can also add some survey questions unique to their communities, Shewfelt said.
For example, McCune added, the education system in New Orleans is very decentralized with most students attending charter schools, so this may affect arts education partnerships.
Data collection in the six additional sites is already underway, and by early 2020, Ingenuity expects to release "public-facing" maps for each community, Shewfelt said. Other sites involved in Any Given Child will also be made aware of future opportunities to participate.