The Education Innovator #36
Volume III
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The Education Innovator
 October 4, 2005 • Number 36
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Arts Education Partnership
What's New
Secretary Spellings announces $20.9 million grant to Louisiana through the Charter Schools Program; Secretary Spellings outlines flexibilities for reporting under NCLB as the country recovers from hurricanes Katrina and Rita; National Coalition for History produces newsletter that includes information on Constitution Day; Think port provides ongoing resources for instruction about the Constitution; Pacific Research Institute releases new book on charter schools; California Charter Schools Association finds state charter schools are performing better than traditional public schools; the first Arthur H. White Making A Difference Awards announced; Education Week releases report on superintendents as instructional leaders; Jones New York's profits from T-shirts to go to help teachers; and Ball State University issues Middletown Media Studies 2 report.
Innovations in the News
Massachusetts' Education Cooperative receives a Teaching American History grant; plus information about arts education, charter schools, closing the achievement gap, and magnet schools.

Arts Education Partnership Celebrates Ten Years of Orchestrating Collaboration, Information, and Education
The audience wildly applauds the closing curtain of a student performance: "Postcards from America." Unlike traditional high school plays, "Postcards" was written by students in Central Falls High School's (RI) ArtsLiteracy Project. The program, part of the ArtsLiteracy Project, an OII grantee at Brown University, helps students parlay the themes they discover in literary texts into original works based on their own lives. The Central Falls "Postcards" consisted of nine pieces developed by 30 recent émigrés, who had arrived in the United States speaking little or no English. The "postcards" were students' photographs projected onto giant screens on the stage with music, dance, and dramatic portrayals of the immigrant experience in the foreground.

Such stories lie at the heart of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), which supports the arts as a core academic subject in No Child Left Behind. Comprised of 140 organizations that represent traditional arts associations, such as the National Association for Music Education, professional artists in the larger community, and education groups not directly associated with the arts, such as the Council of Chief State School Officers and the U.S. Department of Education, the AEP has generated dialogue and action among those in the broader education community.

The innovation of an arts partnership was first conceived in 1992, when Lynn Cheney, Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities at the time, worked in tandem with then-Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander and the National Endowment for the Arts to support the development of national voluntary standards in the arts—theatre, music, visual arts, and dance. Secretary Alexander said at the time, "If I were helping to rethink the curriculum of a school in my hometown, I would want instruction in the arts to be available to every student." A related initiative, the America 2000 Arts Partnership, laid the groundwork for ongoing interaction between the arts education community and the federal government and, ultimately, the Arts Education Partnership.

In 1995, the Arts Education Partnership was born through a cooperative agreement of the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. The partnership was founded to act on federal suggestions to model partnership among the arts, education, and governance sectors and to encourage schools to incorporate the arts into the standard school curriculum.The latter received a substantial boost in 2002, when the arts were included as a core academic subject in the No Child Left Behind Act.

As it celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, the partnership is unique for the breadth of its membership and for its ability to sustain continued, meaningful interaction among these varied groups. Director Dick Deasy describes the AEP's achievement as bringing "together in partnership the world of education and the world of the arts to work collaboratively to assist states and school districts in providing quality education to students."

The partnership has maintained a strong commitment to both collecting information about arts education in the United States and widely disseminating research concerning arts education policies and programs. In 1998, The Arts Education Partnership played an instrumental role in disseminating the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Arts Assessment. Unusual in its evaluation of students' technical knowledge of responding to artwork, the Arts Assessment also included creating and/or performing specific performance tasks.

While one part of the exam included traditional written exercises and multiple-choice questions that tested students' ability to comprehend and understand art, a second part required students to create or perform their own work of art. For example, in the "responding" section of the music assessment, students were asked to "Listen to pieces of music and then analyze, interpret, critique, and place the pieces in historical context." In the "creating" section, they were asked to "create and perform a rock-and-roll improvisation on an MIDI keyboard." When appropriate, the creating section was recorded for viewing by the assessor.

Separate assessments were developed for each of the four arts subjects: music, theatre, visual arts, and dance, and different kinds of exercises were used to measure different kinds of knowledge and skill. The first such national standardized test of its kind, the assessment was an important innovation in how to evaluate student achievement in the arts in the United States.

The partnership has complemented this assessment data with a series of studies and reports, beginning with Gaining the Arts Advantage, Lessons from School Districts that Value Arts Education. AEP next published Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning, followed by a compendium of 62 studies identified by teams of researchers as having the strongest indications of the effects of the arts. This compendium was entitled Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development. In conjunction with the American Educational Research Association, AEP then released Arts and Education: New Opportunities for Research, which suggested future interdisciplinary research studies that would deepen the understanding of the effects of arts education and arts education policies.

The partnership continues to expand upon its research. At the behest of Congress, AEP has studied and will release its new report on the effects of the arts in high poverty schools, entitled, Third Space: When Learning Matters. Third Space examines how and why the arts deeply engage students and teachers in high poverty schools in what the cognitive scientist John Bransford calls "efficient and innovative learning," i.e., the "flexible knowledge that allows students to invent ways to solve familiar problems and innovative skills to identify new problems."

As a liaison to the wider community, one of the organization's primary goals is to disseminate information to educators and the general public. The partnership's website, listserv, and forums on various issues provide educators with content information and support. Through these vehicles, schools and educators from around the country gain access to data that will help them implement and create partnerships in their own school districts.

At each of the three national forums held every year, AEP explores a different issue. Past forums have focused on The Arts, Adolescents, and High School Redesign, Partnering with Philanthropy, and the Arts and Literacy, for example. In the course of a weekend, educators from around the country have the opportunity to share the results of their own programs and to network with others.

Some grantees from the Office of Innovation and Improvement's Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Program, which supports the development, implementation, and expansion of standards-based arts education programs and the integration of arts instruction in the core curriculum, have been featured presenters at the forums. ArtsConnection, Inc., in New York, shared its experiences working with two school districts, one in the South Bronx and one in Brooklyn, to develop and field-test their K-5 Curricula for Dance and Theatre Arts, which is based on parallel learning structures between the arts and other core disciplines, especially language arts.

Another Arts Model program that presented at an AEP forum is ArtsPartners, a collaboration of the Dallas (TX) Office of Cultural Affairs, the Dallas Independent School District, and arts and cultural organizations in the city. ArtsPartners demonstrated how it provides students with equal access to arts and cultural programs by coordinating with existing services and by training teachers and artists in the effective use and development of arts programs.

The most recent AEP forum was held in Charleston, SC, October 1 and 2. The meeting concentrated on Arts Education and the Creative Economy, and examined the relationship of the arts to the critical and innovative thinking required for continued US competitiveness in the global market. During the course of the forum, AEP premiered a short video entitled, "Visions of the Future: Education in the Arts," which featured prominent policy makers and educators at the state and local levels discussing the interplay between the changing American economy and the role of the arts in helping schools and communities adapt to those changes.

The AEP will use the occasion of its 10th anniversary to celebrate the past achievements of the partnership and to further support integration of arts education in the standard school curriculum. The Arts Education Partnership's commitment to a mission that all partners can embrace, its focus on projects that are aligned with education legislation and mandates, and its work on projects that have a national impact have contributed to its continued success and growth. As a result, the partnership has been able to translate theory into practice to reflect the disciplines of this core curriculum area. The U.S. Department of Education's part of the collaborative agreement to support AEP is managed by the Office of Innovation and Improvement, which is also represented on the Arts Education Partnership's Governance Committee.

Resources: Top

What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced that Louisiana has been awarded a $20.9 million grant through the Charter Schools Program to help reopen charter schools damaged by the hurricanes, help create 10 new charter schools, and expand existing charter schools to accommodate students displaced by hurricane damage. (Sept. 30)

Secretary Spellings sent a letter to all Chief State School Officers outlining temporary options for complying with accountability provisions of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) regarding assessments and adequate yearly progress during this time of hurricane recovery. States may choose one of two options: they can exercise existing natural disaster provisions of NCLB or, when reporting accountability data, they can establish a separate subgroup for displaced students. (Sept. 29)

Secretary Spellings testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce about closing the achievement gap. She stressed the importance of ensuring that students displaced by hurricanes receive quality education and announced some flexibilities, including allowing those schools and districts to report the results for hurricane-displaced students as a separate subgroup of students when reporting test scores under No Child Left Behind. She added that seriously affected states may exercise the delay provisions of No Child Left Behind without seeking a waiver from the Department. (Sept. 29)

American History

The latest newsletter from the National Coalition for History includes a description of some of the national response to Constitution Day, and remarks at Shepherd College (WV) from Senator Robert C. Byrd, who authored the Constitution Day legislation. Institutions across the country celebrated Constitution Day in various ways: one college baked three large cakes with the Constitution and Bill of Rights written in icing. Many colleges and universities also held lectures and "Jeopardy-style" games to test students' knowledge. (Sept. 23)

Thinkport an OII-supported, online resource of interactive lesson plans and training for Maryland educators, families, and community members, is helping to ensure that the Constitution is taught not just on September 17, but year-round. For example, Thinkport offers excerpts of a conversation between U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Stephen Breyer that concern the Constitution, federalism, and the separation of powers. Another offering is the video, "Shh! We're Writing the Constitution," about the 1787 Constitutional Convention, which was developed for elementary school students. (Sept. 27)

Charter Schools

Authors Lance T. Izumi and Xiaochin Claire Yan profile seven charter schools that are surpassing the academic achievement results of their traditional public school counterparts in a new book.Free to Learn: Lessons from Model Charter Schools, from the Pacific Research Institute (PRI), identifies common elements of "highly improving" schools, which include: rigorous teacher accountability and the elimination of teacher tenure, teachers who have in-depth content knowledge, business-minded principals, strong fiscal management, and high expectations for students and staff, among other characteristics. Free to Learn also contains tips and resources for parents. (Sept. 7) (offered for sale)

Public charter schools are showing stronger student achievement gains as compared to traditional public schools in California, according to a new examination of the state's accountability system from the California Charter Schools Association download files PDF, (22KB). Leading the gains were 63 Charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. These schools demonstrated a growth of 29.9 points on standardized tests, compared to 20.6 points for the non-charter public schools. In addition, one in four charter schools showed significantly high growth rates (50 points or more) on the state's accountability system, compared to one in ten non-charter public schools. (Sept. 21)


The first Arthur H. White Making a Difference Awards recognize four individuals who are affecting social change from organizations based in Los Angeles and San Jose (CA), Hartford (CT), and Boston (MA). Cash prizes of $3,000 were awarded to each honoree, two of whom are administrators at magnet schools: Marilyn Bliss, Coordinator for the Medical Magnet Program at Andrew Hill High School (CA) and Stephen Perry, Director of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School (CT). The other two are Pablo Alvarado, National Coordinator for the National Day Labor Organizing Network (CA) and Neil Silverston, President and Co-founder of Worksource Partners (MA). The award was created by Arthur White, who, for over 40 years, worked with corporations, government agencies, nonprofits, and other groups to bring about positive change in their respective arenas. (Sept. 19)


A new report from Education Week shows that superintendents are playing a more assertive role in shaping classroom instruction. Leading for Learning: A Report on District Leadership finds that nearly three-quarters of superintendents state that the No Child Left Behind Act has brought district leaders into this larger instructional role. The report also indicates that large numbers of district leaders are making greater use of data to drive instruction. (Sept. 14) [free registration]

Teacher Quality

To mark the start of the new school year, clothing company, Jones Apparel Group, Inc., is offering T-shirts designed by artist Ryan McGinness to support the efforts of teachers. All profits from the sale of the T-shirts will go to "Jones New York in the Classroom," a nationwide program to improve the quality of education through the recruitment, retention, and support of public school teachers. Jones Apparel Group is committed not only to funding the program, but also to giving employees paid time off to donate their time to the initiative. Jones New York in the Classroom grew out of extensive market research with customers and employees to determine what issue was most important to them. Children and education were the top priorities. (October 3)


Televisions, iPods, radios, cell phones, computers—the average American spends more time using devices such as these than any other activity while awake, according to The Middletown Media Studies 2 (MMS2), from Ball State University. The study also shows that about 30 percent of all media time is spent exposed to more than one medium at a time. A research team shadowed about 400 individuals for several months, collecting and analyzing data on 5,000 hours of media use in Muncie and Indianapolis (IN). (Sept. 26)


Innovations in the News

American History
American history is beginning to come alive for teachers and students in Massachusetts. The Education Cooperative based in Dedham recently received an OII-administered Teaching American History (TAH) grant, which will provide teachers with professional development and help them learn how to use different resources for their lessons. The Education Cooperative supports 14 towns including Norwood, Walpole, and Westwood. The TAH grant will be used toward a "Keepers of the Republic" program in Worcester that examines American history through Benjamin Franklin's perspective, a "Pursuing Justice" project in Brookline that provides professional and curriculum development for teachers, and an "American Promises" project in Westfield that is designed to improve teachers' understanding and appreciation of traditional American history. [More-The Daily News] (Sept. 27)

Students in Flint (MI) will notice a change in their history lessons very soon. Experts on Flint's history will work with fourth, fifth, eighth, and ninth grade history teachers this summer to show them how to use local history to teach American history between the years 1778 and 1980. African-American history will also have a prominent place in the students' lessons, due to a three-year Teaching American History grant from the U.S. Department of Education. [More-The Flint Journal] (Sept. 27)

Charter Schools
Students in St. Cloud (MN) are walking to a new charter school with a new format. Stride Academy opened on September 6 with an inaugural class of 176 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Stride offers year-round schooling and a longer academic day. Students attend classes for 174 days, each of which runs for about 7 1/2 hours, as opposed to the traditional 6 1/2 hours. There is a strict dress code, parents must volunteer at the school 30 hours per year, and students spend the last portion of the academic day working on assignments that would normally be taken home. The school is the latest addition to the cadre of 23 charter schools that opened in the state this fall. [More-The St. Cloud Times] (Sept. 26)

Magnet Schools
Chicago's first magnet school, Whitney Young High School, has scored among Chicago's top 10 high schools year after year. The school, which opened in 1975, was built on a lot left empty as a result of fires in reaction to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in April 1968. The school has grown from its first graduating class of 43 hearing impaired students to include over 2,000 students from across the city, 35 percent of whom are African American, 27 percent white, 21 percent Hispanic, and 17 percent Asian. Ninety-five percent of Whitney Young students go on to college, and seniors' average score on the ACT was 25.1 compared to the national average of 20.9. [More-Chicago Sun Times]


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Last Modified: 08/12/2009