The Education Innovator #3
Volume II
Archived Information

The Education Innovator
 January 26, 2004 • Number 3
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  Past issues
What's inside...
Opening Minds Through the Arts Project
What's New
DC School Choice passes the Senate; the President proposes expanding Advanced Placement programs; webcast available for AEI/Fordham Foundation conference on No Child Left Behind; Institute for Educational Leadership has launched a new website; Teaching Commission issues report on teacher education and compensation; National Endowment for the Humanities is accepting applications to conduct an NEH Seminar or Institute in summer 2005; Delivering Better Education: Market Solutions for Education Improvement released by the Adam Smith Institute.
Innovations in the News
DC School Choice passed by the Senate; plus information on Troops to Teachers; charter schools; virtual schools; and teacher quality.

Opening Minds Through the Arts Uses Music and Dance To Raise Student Achievement
"My first-grader wrote an opera! My fourth-grader plays the violin! My child is doing well in reading!" These exclamations could come from parents of students in the Tucson Unified School District who spend part of the school day learning to play the recorder and the violin, while others compose original music or work with a dance specialist to interpret music. The stress on music and the arts in select Tucson area schools is part of an innovative program called Opening Minds Through the Arts (OMA). The program aims to improve student achievement by building connections between arts and the core curriculum.

OMA focuses on grades K-5. All lessons are designed to integrate the arts into standard classroom activities in math and language arts. The objectives of this program include:

  • Assisting teachers to develop and utilize strategies and techniques designed to fully engage all students by infusing the arts into all lessons;
  • Utilizing local artists and arts-based organizations for collaboration, instruction, demonstration, and presentation;
  • Conducting scientific research and evaluation in order to demonstrate OMA's effectiveness by providing a data driven accountability component; and
  • Developing stronger connections to school for both students and parents.
Three schools in Tucson have implemented the entire OMA program, and twenty-five schools have partially implemented it. OMA teachers, who receive special training, must be committed and energetic about the project. Each school has a full-time music specialist who works with the teachers and students. There are also four to eleven teaching artists trained in the OMA model to co-teach with the teachers and the on-site specialist.

The program received a start-up contribution from philanthropist H. Eugene Jones. Funding is also derived from Arizona's school tax credit program. In addition, collaboration with the University of Arizona School of Music and University of Arizona School of Dance, arts-based organizations (Tucson Symphony, Arizona Opera Company, and others), neighboring school districts, and local governmental agencies helps to sustain and enhance the OMA project.

Recently, Arizona Superintendent Tom Horne announced that Arizona would adopt OMA statewide and the program would receive $1 million in federal funds to support the expansion.

WestEd, a nonprofit research, development and service agency, is conducting a 3-year study comparing OMA schools to non-OMA schools. The study examines differences in instructional effectiveness and student academic achievement. Preliminary results of the study show that children in OMA are testing at a higher rate than children who do not take part in the program.

All children who took part in the OMA project, regardless of race or ethnicity, improved their scores in reading, writing, and math over the first two years. Hispanic students showed the largest gains overall in math, reading and writing. Analysis of classroom observation data suggests that teacher effectiveness is greater in OMA classes than in comparison schools.

OMA receives a grant through the Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant program administered by the Office of Innovation and Improvement.

Note: The featured innovation is a description of one arts program and is given as an example. The U.S. Department of Education has not evaluated the specific services of Opening Minds Through the Arts, and the information provided should not be regarded as an endorsement.


What's New
D.C. School Choice
DC School Choice passed the Senate. Secretary Rod Paige and Mayor Anthony Williams will launch a five-year pilot program for District schoolchildren to attend private and parochial schools. OII will administer this program. (Jan. 22)

President's Bush State of Union Address
In his State of the Union Address, the President proposed that Advanced Placement programs in low-income schools be expanded as one measure of "Jobs for the 21st Century." (Jan. 20)

The American Enterprise Institute and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation NCLB Conference Materials
The American Enterprise Institute and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation held a conference on the implementation of the public school choice and supplemental educational services provisions of No Child Left Behind. Deputy Under Secretary Rees was a presenter. A webcast and conference papers (listed under "Event Materials") are available to anyone interested in the different points of view and a wealth of information related to this effort. (Jan. 15, 16)

Launching of e-Lead Website
The Institute for Educational Leadership has launched a website called e-Lead. e-Lead is designed to help states and districts strengthen district-wide professional development for principals. The free website offers guidance for designing and implementing principal professional development programs and has a searchable database of existing, standards-based programs. (Jan. 16)

Teaching At Risk: A Call to Action Report
The Teaching Commission has developed a strategy to upgrade teaching as a profession by changing the way teachers come into the field and how they are trained, assessed, supported, and compensated. For additional information, please view Teaching At Risk: A Call to Action. (Jan. 14)

National Endowment for the Humanities
The National Endowment for the Humanities is accepting applications to conduct an NEH Seminar or Institute in Summer 2005. These projects are designed to provide teachers, from grade school through college and from across the nation, with the opportunity for intensive study of important texts and topics in the humanities. The application deadline is March 1, 2004. (Jan. 2004)

Improving Student Achievement and Expanding Education Opportunity for British Students
A report, Delivering Better Education: Market Solutions for Education Improvement, from the Adam Smith Foundation, describes the benefits of market-driven education reforms in improving student achievement and expanding education opportunity for British students. (2003)


Innovations in the News

District of Columbia School Choice
The U.S. Senate passed federal legislation appropriating $13 million for publicly funded scholarships for low-income students in D.C., while also providing $13 million for traditional public schools and $13 million for additional charter schools. [More-Washington Post] (Jan. 22)

Troops to Teachers
The OII-administered Troops to Teachers program helps schools meet the No Child Left Behind requirement for highly qualified teachers as participants put their knowledge and experience to work in the classroom. [More-Washington Post] (Jan. 19)

Jim Brady and Greg Grove are assistant principals at Clinton-Massie (OH) middle and high schools, respectively, thanks to the federal government's Troops to Teachers program, which helps place former military personnel in teaching and administrative positions. [More-Wilmington News Journal, OH] (Jan. 9)

Charter Schools
The Romney administration proposes eliminating three caps on charter schools in Massachusetts: number of schools, spending limit for districts, and enrollment. This recommendation will be included in the Governor's budget proposal. [More-Boston Herald] (Jan. 23)

A major report released by the Legislative Analyst's Office recommends that the California Legislature remove the current cap on the number of charter schools, streamline charter school funding, and allow for multiple authorizers. [More-Business Wire] (Jan. 21)

High Tech High, a charter high school started in 2000 with support from San Diego entrepreneurs, defies most rules about what makes a high school. [More-The Oregonian] (Jan. 13)

Nuestro Mundo is the result of more than two years of a community's fight to create a charter school where elementary students would be immersed in both Spanish and English. [More-The Madison Capital Times] (Jan. 13)

University of California, Berkeley, will soon open an "early college academy" that will allow high school students to earn college credit as they work toward their diploma. [More-Tri-Valley Herald] (Jan. 15)

Straight Street in Paterson, New Jersey will soon be home to a new charter school: the Great Falls Charter School that is scheduled to open in September and will be geared towards college-bound sixth, seventh and eighth graders. [More-News 12 New Jersey] (Jan. 15)

Virtual Schools, a nonprofit consortium of about 70 mostly rural school districts, was launched July 1 to provide both Internet-based courses and two-way videoconferencing to students and schools who want to take advantage of distance learning. [] (Jan. 15)

Teacher Quality
The Ohio Partnership for Accountability-a group that includes all 51 of the state's schools or colleges of education, the Ohio Department of Education, and the Ohio Board of Regents-is studying how the preparation of new teachers affects the performance of their students. [More-The Cleveland Plain Dealer] (Jan. 11)


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Last Modified: 06/28/2011