Why Students Need Arts Education?

Recently, I gave my niece a bracelet for her 16th birthday that says, “Be the Change You Want to See in The World.” Kind of corny, I know, but my niece has a dream of becoming the Secretary of State so I thought she might be inspired by the quote of Mahatma Gandhi. In fact, I told her that someone has to change the world it might as well be her. We all have the power to make change – one person at a time – sometimes we just need the right tools and inspiration.

With the release of the 2011 Arts Education Census Report, the information is there to make the argument for improving education in the arts for all of our students. This report shows us what is happening – or not happening – regarding access to and equity in the arts in all of our students. This report provides the fodder to make the case that the arts are part of the core curriculum, they are an essential part of education and they are part of what it means to be a creative, engaged citizen.

Whether you are a member of the School Board, a Superintendent, Principal, Teacher, Parent, Student or a Concerned Citizen, we are providing you with the tools to make your voice heard.

When the Arts Ed NJ (previously the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership) was formed in 2007 we created a mission statement which works to provide a unified voice for a diverse group of constituents who agree on the educational benefits and impact of the arts, specifically the contribution they make to student achievement and a civilized, sustainable society. With these tools you can do just that.

We can make New Jersey the creative and innovative State that we all envision. We can create positive change. There are no excuses. – Kristin Wenger, Director


Young people who participate in the arts are: 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance Participate in youth groups nearly four times as frequently Read for pleasure nearly twice as often Perform community service more than four times as often (Study by Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation For the Advancement of Teaching; 1998)


A 2008 study by the non-profit organization The Education Commission of the States concludes that arts can play a critical role in improving the academic performance of students. In a national sample of 25,000 students, those students “with high levels of arts-learning experiences” earned higher grades and scored better on standardized tests than those with little or no involvement in the arts-regardless of socioeconomic status. Learning through the arts also appears to have significant effects on learning in other disciplines, with “students consistently involved in theater and music showing higher levels of success in math and reading.” The Arts are Business.The creative economy is one of the driving forces of the Los Angeles and Orange County economies, generating nearly 1 million in direct and indirect jobs, $140 billion in sales and receipts, and more than $5.1 billion in state and local taxes. (2009 Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation report)


Arts education makes a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has been proven to help level the “learning field” across socio-economic boundaries. Arts education has a measurable impact on at-risk youth in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems while also increasing overall academic performance among those youth engaged in after school and summer arts programs targeted toward delinquency prevention. Arts education in schools increases test scores across every subject area, lowers drop out rates and helps close the achievement gap regardless of socio-economic status. (Youth ARTS Development Project, 1996, U.S. Department of Justice; Arts Education Partnership, CAAE)


The Arts And Achievement In At-Risk Youth: Findings From Four Longitudinal Studies, 2012 James S. Catterall, University of California Los Angeles with Susan A. Dumais, Louisiana State University and Gillian Hampden-Thompson, University of York, U.K.

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