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Arts education report shows checkered progress

The city released its annual report on arts education yesterday, and it shows that while the percentage of city students meeting the state’s minimum requirements has increased, budget cuts and a citywide space crunch are cutting into schools’ arts offerings.

Here are some highlights:

  • 12 percent of elementary schools met the state standard in 2009 of offering arts instruction in four disciplines to all grades. That’s up from 2008, when only 8 percent of elementary schools met this standard. In 2007, that number was at 4 percent.
  • 63 percent of middle school students met the state’s minimum art requirements in 2009, up from 47 percent in 2008 and 29 percent in 2007. In a blog post from September, Richard Kessler, director of the Center for Arts Education, questioned the jump from 2007 to 2008, given that the number of middle school certified arts specialists had gone down. The number went down again this year by 4.8 percent, especially hitting music specialists.
  • While more high schools are offering at least two or three arts disciplines, the number of high schools that offer four arts disciplines has decreased in the last year from 27 percent of schools in 2008 to 23 percent in 2009. The bulk of the cuts appear to have been made to theater programs, as the percentage of high schools offering theater decreased from 70 percent in 2008 to 46 percent in 2009.
  • The amount of money the city devoted to arts increased by $17 million, or 5.7 percent, from last year, with most of that increase going towards funds to pay for personnel. In total 79 new certified arts teachers were hired. The city allocated less for art supplies and art vendors than it did last year.
  • Asked what the major obstacles were to offering more arts classes, principals’ top three responses were: lack of space, scheduling conflicts, and budget cuts.

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