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Access to Arts Education: Inclusion of Additional Questions in Education's Planned Research Would Help Explain Why Instruction Time Has Decreased for Some Students

GAO-09-286 Published: Feb 27, 2009. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 2009.
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Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA), districts and schools must demonstrate adequate yearly progress (AYP) for all students. Because schools may spend more time improving students' academic skills to meet NCLBA's requirements, some are concerned that arts education might be cut back. To determine how, if at all, student access to arts education has changed since NCLBA, the Congress asked: (1) has the amount of instruction time for arts education changed and, if so, have certain groups been more affected than others, (2) to what extent have state education agencies' requirements and funding for arts education changed since NCLBA, (3) what are school officials in selected districts doing to provide arts education since NCLBA and what challenges do they face in doing so, and (4) what is known about the effect of arts education in improving student outcomes? GAO analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Education (Education), surveyed 50 state arts officials, interviewed officials in 8 school districts and 19 schools, and reviewed existing research.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Education To help identify factors that may contribute to changes in access to arts education for certain student subgroups, the Secretary of Education should require that the department's planned study of NCLBA implementation include questions in its surveys asking survey respondents to describe the reasons for any changes in instruction time they report. Once the information has been collected and analyzed, Education could disseminate it to school districts and schools to help them identify and develop strategies to address any disparities in access.
Closed – Implemented
Education has planned a study to continue to examine the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) Title I and Title II implementation issues. Education has developed surveys for the study that include questions regarding changes in students' access to arts education and the reasons for those changes. The department submitted the forms clearance package for the surveys to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on June 29, 2012 and is going forward with the survey. Education had planned initial data collection for spring 2013. To allow for inclusion of questions for states, school districts and schools about No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) waiver implementation, data collection has been postponed until spring 2014. The information on students' access to arts education will be collected, analyzed and disseminated to school districts then, along with this related NCLBA information.

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