Justin Miera

"Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools" is a substantial statistical analysis report issued in October 1995 on behalf of the U. S. Department of Education. There are many authors and contributing organizations to the report including Westat, Inc., National Endowment for the Arts, National Institute on Student Achievement and National Center for Educational Statistics. The report includes analysis of music, visual art, drama, dance and creative writing in public elementary and secondary schools. The report is meant to examine the current state of these arts in the United States educational system. This was done by calculating the number of schools that offer arts education, whether the teachers specialize in their related arts field, the locations used for art education and the degree to which arts are integrated with other subjects. This paper will be a narrow review of only the musical references.

The report was designed by the authors to review the progress of arts education sighting Goals 2000: Educate America Act and the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 as its impetuous. The previous national documentation of arts education was conducted in 1989 and released in 1991 by the National Arts Education Research Center (Carey, Farris, Sikes, Foy and Carpenter, 1995, p. 1). The authors of the current report made no other references to this 1991 report or the above legislation. With regards to research theory, statistical significance was tested using the Bonferroni adjustment and rated at .05 or better (p. 3). To help derive the standard error, computer programs were used and estimated a 1.5 percent variation for the elementary school surveys (p. 40). In the chapter "Changes in Arts Programs in Public Schools in the Past 5 Years" the authors of the report used only data derived from the respondent's surveyed (p. 28), but not any previously gathered data.

The content of the report was based on three main questions: a) "What arts subjects are being taught in public schools, and how are they taught?", b) "How do schools and districts support arts education?", and c) "How have schools' arts programs changed compared to 5 years ago?" (p. 2).

The surveys were sent to two samples. The first sample was public elementary schools, K- 8th grade, and the second was public secondary schools, 7th-12th grade. The surveys were addressed to school principals who were asked to relay the questions to a staff person with in depth knowledge of the school's arts program. Principals completed most of the surveys with only 24% of teachers or arts specialists filling them out (p. 39). These people were asked to define their school characteristics by building enrollment, geographic region and metropolitan status.

There are an estimated 58,261 public elementary schools and 19,900 public secondary schools in the United States. Only 1.3% of the elementary schools and 3.8% of the secondary schools were asked to participate. Of the 751 elementary schools mailed a survey 92%, or 679, responded. The largest percentage of elementary respondents came from medium sized schools, 300 to 599 students, in urban fringe areas of the Western states. 751 of the secondary schools were sent surveys and 697, or 94%, responded. Most respondents came from medium schools in the West, but this time more from towns rather than urban fringe (pp. 38-9).

The surveys were tailored for either elementary or secondary schools. The elementary survey included thirty-two questions. They were either yes/no, multiple choice or numerical fill in the blank. There were seven specific questions with regard to music including: a) " 8. Does this school offer music instruction in the following areas: a. general music, b. vocal music, c. instrumental music?"; b) "10. On average, approximately how many minutes of class time is devoted to separate instruction in music each week? a. From a music specialist ___, b. From the classroom teacher ___."; c) "12. Does this school currently have a specially equipped space used primarily for teaching music? Yes, No" (p. 72). Most of the other questions were about general arts concepts such as artist-in-residence participation, parental involvement and arts standards.

The secondary school survey had twenty questions. All the questions referred to the five arts subjects together; there were no individual questions singling out a specific discipline. Again, there were yes/no, numerical fill in the blank or multiple choice questions. For example: "2. How many separate courses does this school offer in each subject? Creative writing___, Dance___, Drama/theater___, Music___, Visual arts___"; "Are you aware of the voluntary National Standards for Arts Education? Yes, No" (p. 76).

The elementary school survey results on music included data on courses offered, teacher characteristics and space available. The results showed that 97% of public elementary schools offer music instruction and of those 56% offer general, instrumental and vocal music. Other schools offer varying combinations of the three music sub-categories, but these range between 2% and 15% of the schools surveyed. Respondents showed that 70% of music programs are taught by specialist teachers only, 22% by a combination of specialist and classroom teachers and 8% by classroom teachers only (p. 5). At the same time, 53% of schools are served by full-time specialists while the combination of specialist and classroom teachers increases to 39%. This seems to indicate that 17% of the schools with the specialist and classroom teacher combination put more of the music instruction burden on the classroom teacher (p. 7). This observation is further bolstered by the data in table 2, page 8. It states that schools with the specialist and classroom teacher combination offer 12.8% more mean minutes of instruction per week than do schools with a full time specialist. There is a close tie between schools that use only a full time music specialist and whether a specially equipped space is provided for music. There are 72% of respondent schools that have a specially equipped space.

94% of public secondary schools offer music as a separate instructional subject (p. 14). This number is closely related to the enrollment size, metropolitan status and geographic region of the school. 88% of small, rural, Western schools have separate music offerings. In contrast, 99% of large, city/urban fringe, central/Northeastern schools offer music as a separate subject (p. 14). Table 6, page 15 combines results from questions two, three and four of the survey, presumably for the purpose of comparing the five arts subjects. For instance, in relation to visual arts, music is offered fewer times, but has more teachers and spaces. In reviewing just the music data, each music teacher instructs 2.14 separate music courses in 1.73 separate spaces.

Data from the elementary and secondary surveys were compared to analyze administrative and curricular concepts. In both elementary and secondary schools, most, 82%, follow district curriculum guidelines (p. 17). Slightly more secondary schools than elementary schools, 12%, are aware of, and incorporate the National Standards for Arts Education (p. 18). There are further correlations between school status and arts application. Like secondary music offerings, there are more districts with arts coordinators and arts graduation requirements from large, Northeastern cities. There is a slight deviation when it comes to in-service arts training in that large, Southeastern city schools lead the way. Elementary and secondary schools equally access artists-in-residence (p. 22). Secondary schools offer 22% more formal performance opportunities for their students than do elementary schools (p. 24). Secondary schools have a 15% greater integration of music technology than do elementary schools (p. 26).

Enrollment was the primary criteria used as a benchmark for change in the previous five years. Elementary school enrollment increased 41% while instruction time, staffed positions, supply allocation, classroom funding and performance-center use mostly remained the same, 56%. Secondary schools showed a similar pattern. Enrollment increased 62% while staffed positions, supply allocation, classroom funding and performance-center use mostly remained the same, 49%. Secondary school course offerings did increase by 50% (pp. 29-30).

The report concludes and summarizes by comparing the five arts subjects, the relationships between elementary and secondary school programs and the commitments being made to keep "arts education in the mainstream of basic education" (p. 32). Music appears to garner more commitment with regards to teacher specialization, space appropriation and instructional programing. Visual arts is a close second with the other disciplines trailing far behind. Elementary and secondary schools are concluded to mirror each other's positive commitment and application to arts education. The authors of the report ask possible future research questions like: a) What is the in deapth content of the arts curricula?; b) Is it possible to assess student achievement in the arts through national standards?; c) How best can teachers and specialists foster artistic creativity in the schools? (p. 33).

These are mostly reasonable conclusions based on the research reported. There could have been further clarification of some data by redefining certain terms. The authors reported that 56% of elementary schools offered general, vocal and instrumental music. A clear definition of these three sub-categories may have filtered out the misconception that voice and Orff instruments in the general music classroom are separate areas of study. Here are some possible new definitions: a) general music: the use of instruments and voice to relate basic musical concepts; b) vocal music: the in deapth study and application of vocal production separate from instruments or rudimentary theory; c) instrumental music: the in deapth study and application of orchestral instrument techniques separate from voice or rudimentary theory. In the secondary school survey there is a comparison drawn between courses and teachers in the visual arts and music (p. 15). Each visual art teacher is said to teach 3 courses and each music teacher 2.1 courses. Visual arts courses are sub- categorized as "communication and design arts, architecture and environmental arts, and crafts such as ceramics, jewelry, and works in wood, paper, and other materials" (p. 75). Music courses are defined as "music appreciation, music theory, the historical development of music, the fundamentals of various musical instruments, and vocal and instrumental (band and orchestra) performance" (p. 75). These definitions confuse the concept of separate courses and create the appearance of "light" work loads. If a visual art teacher has three general art classes, a ceramics class, a jewelry class and a paper class is that four separate courses or seven total classes? If a music teacher has five instrumental classes (beginning concert band, advanced wind ensemble, jazz band, orchestra, marching band) and a music history class is that two separate courses or six total classes? Still, the authors of this report have delivered a thorough examination of the state of arts, and music, education in the United States.



Carey, N., Farris, E., Sikes, M., Foy, R., Carpenter, J. (1995). Arts education in public elementary and secondary schools (NCES No. 95-082). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education; Office of Educational Research and Improvement. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED388607)

A review of literature in partial fulfillment of the course Current and Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Education, MLS 654 F, Course Consultant is Sharon D. Sweet, Ph. D., REGIS UNIVERSITY, November, 15 1998

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