New NEA Research Report Shows Potential Benefits of Arts Education for At-Risk Youth
Youth Have Better Academic Outcomes, Higher Career Goals, and Are More Civically Engaged
March 30, 2012
Washington, DC -- At-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school also tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement, according to a new NEA report, The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies. The study reports these and other positive outcomes associated with high levels of arts exposure for youth of low socioeconomic status.
The study focuses on the potential effects of arts engagement on youth from the lowest quarter of socioeconomic status. Although most of the arts-related benefits in this report applied only to these at-risk youth, some findings also suggest benefits for youth from advantaged backgrounds.
"Arts education doesn't take place in isolation," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "It has to take place as part of an overall school and education reform strategy. This report shows that arts education has strong links with other positive educational outcomes."
Among the key findings:
Better academic outcomes -- Teenagers and young adults of low socioeconomic (SES) status who have a history of in-depth arts involvement ("high arts") show better academic outcomes than low-SES youth with less arts involvement ("low arts"). They earn better grades and have higher rates of college enrollment and attainment.
Higher career goals -- There is a marked difference between the career aspirations of young adults with and without arts backgrounds.
More civically engaged - Young adults who had intensive arts experiences in high school are more likely to show civic-minded behavior than young adults who did not, with comparatively high levels of volunteering, voting, and engagement with local or school politics. In many cases, this difference appears in both low-and high-SES groups.
The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies was prepared for the National Endowment for the Arts by James S. Catterall, University of California Los Angeles, with Susan A. Dumais, Louisiana State University, and Gillian Hampden-Thompson, University of York, U.K. The report is one of the NEA’s latest efforts to conduct and commission research that examines evidence of the value and impact of the arts in other domains of American life, such as education, health and well-being, community liveability, and economic prosperity. The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth is available at arts.gov.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at www.arts.gov.
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