The only organization dedicated solely to helping state boards advance equity and excellence in public education.

NASBE’s Standard Explores the Connections between Arts Education and Student Success


Advocates have long fought for equity in arts learning, making the case for arts as core and not “special” curriculum. These cries were heard when the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) gave states the opportunity to expand student access to quality instruction in the visual and performing arts. The latest issue of NASBE’s State Education Standard gives state policymakers good reasons to pay attention to the depth and breadth of instruction their schools offer in music, drama, theater, dance, and media arts—all key components of students’ well-rounded education.

The issue starts with a review by NAfME’s Lynn Tuttle of how states can use ESSA to expand equity and access to the arts. She highlights the work states have undertaken as a result of the law’s opportunities. Mary Dell’Erba of the Arts Education Partnership sketches out research that links arts learning to positive student outcomes and several state policy levers to expand access and quality.

Jonathan VanderBrug of Arts Alliance Illinois writes of how his state’s arts educators and advocates marshaled support for a distinct arts accountability indicator under ESSA and have worked with the Illinois State Board of Education toward making it a reality. Arizona likewise amassed a coalition to expand access to arts education through several policy initiatives, writes Catherine “Rusty” Foley, one of the state’s leading arts advo­cates.

Other articles make a connection between arts education and other outcomes state leaders want. West Chester University Professor Eleanor Brown details her study of preschoolers in Philadelphia and the impact arts integration and instruction has had on issues of equity and student engagement. University of Chicago researcher Camille Farrington and Steve Shewfelt, director of data and research at the Chicago-based arts nonprofit Ingenuity, explain their theory on the interplay of arts and social emotional development. NASBE editorial director Valerie Norville highlights the role of arts education in whole-school reform. Yinmei Wan and colleagues from the American Institutes for Research argue that research on arts integration has not kept pace with stakeholders’ needs for policy-relevant information. They identify opportunities for further study.

In our NASBE Interview, The Wallace Foundation’s Gigi Antoni lends her expert perspective on the role of leadership in bringing communities together to support arts education and arts opportunities outside the classroom.

Read and share the “arts issue” of The State Education Standard.

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances. Learn more at www.nasbe.org.

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