Adapting teaching methods to learning standards is not always an easy task. Teachers and school administrators working with new or updated standards, like the Common Core State Standards, are faced with developing and recalibrating methods to ensure alignment. So imagine the challenge of redesigning a $1.1 million federal program right in the middle of a four-year grant cycle. That was the daunting task that faced the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership (PAEP) as it worked alongside the School District of Philadelphia to integrate the arts into the curriculum in four Philadelphia schools.
PAEP was awarded a four-year grant through the Department of Education’s Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination Program (AEMDD) in 2010. Entitled Arts Link: Building Mathematics and Science Competencies through an Arts Integration Model, the grant aims to integrate the arts into the math and science curriculum in grades two through five. The end goal is to increase student achievement in these subjects by presenting the material through lessons and in ways not done previously.
As Arts in Education Week concludes, it is a time to recognize the importance of the arts a well-rounded education for all students. Through dance, music, theatre and the visual arts, young children explore the world through sight and sound, creative movement and drama. Through the arts, young persons acquire invaluable cognitive abilities and social skills — problem solving and perseverance to name only two — that prepare them for the rigors of college, careers, and life in the 21st century. We also know through research that arts-rich schools make for quality learning environments, heightening student engagement and correlating with increases in attendance and decreases in behavior problems, as well as short and long-term academic achievement, including pursuing higher education and college completion.
Here's a test question: What increases elementary students' proficiencies on math and language arts tests, engages them in ways that direct instruction does not, and motivates them – even to the point of not wanting to go home even when they are sick? The answer: The arts integrated with other core academic subjects such as math and English language arts, according to the evaluation results of the Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) Grants.