A 16-month analysis of the Philadelphia School District’s arts education programs shows that most schools — 90% of 220 — have full-time art or music programs, and more than half have both. But some schools have bits and pieces of a full program and others don’t have any arts instruction at all, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Conducted by school district, the Neubauer Family Foundation, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, the study shows that in some cases the only arts programming available is provided by a community-based organization during an after-school program.
The district’s goal is to make sure every elementary school has an instrumental music program and that every secondary school has both traditional arts programs, such as drawing, drama and classical music, as well as modern arts, including game design, filmmaking and hip-hop dancing.
According to last year’s results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress in the Arts, 13% percent of students attend schools that provide music classes less than once a week or not at all, and 21% of students attend schools that offer visual arts classes less than once a week or not at all.
The Inquirer article notes that the district wants to improve the process through which outside arts organizations partner with schools to offer programs. While partnerships with volunteers and community-based arts organizations can be valuable sources of learning for students — both during the school day and after school — experts say there are several components to making these partnerships work.
A report on the MetLife Foundation Partners in Arts Education program, which ran from 2005 to 2014 and provided grants to 49 community organizations to partner with almost 700 schools, highlights some of these lessons. Successful partnerships, for example, had a clear communications process, training to help the teaching artists form connections with students, and joint professional development for teachers, teaching artists and staff members from the schools and partner organizations.