Study looks at arts enrollment in CUSD schools - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Study looks at arts enrollment in CUSD schools

March 29th, 2022 SanTan Sun News

By Paul Maryniak
Executive Editor

A statewide study released last week shows that the percentage of Chandler Unified School District students enrolled in arts education programs exceeded the state average until the pandemic-disrupted 2020-21 school year.

Still, the data compiled by Quadrant Research with the state Department of Education and three arts-related organizations show that even as COVID-19 threw class schedules into chaos at times last school year, CUSD students at all grade levels flocked to arts instruction – with music classes the hands-down favorite.

Quadrant Research

Last school year, the study indicates, 35% of students – more than 15,600 kids – were enrolled in a music class while 11% were enrolled in visual arts, 3% in theater, 2% in dance and 10% involved in other arts courses. That last category included TV/film and digital media technology, graphic design and digital photography.

The total percentage of arts enrollment last school year in Chandler Unified was down from 77% in 2019-20 and below the statewide average of 60% for 2020-21.

The study was commissioned by the Arts Education Data Project, a consortium of the Education Department, the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Arizona Citizens for the Arts.

The study also measured access to arts education and found that statewide, 89% of the state’s 1.1 million public and charter school students had access to one or more arts disciplines in schools. However, 20% of charter students had no access to any arts courses – more than nearly three times the 7.9% of public-school students who had no arts classes to enroll in.

The study was released in advance of the National Arts Action Summit March 28-30, called by the nonprofit Americans for the Arts to will discuss “developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts and culture.”

Leaders of the Arizona project cited a 2016 study by Americans for the Arts, the largest arts advocacy organization in the nation, that found students with four years of high school arts and music classes had higher SAT scores than students with a half year or less of such classes.

Statewide, the study found that music classes drew the highest enrollment percentage at 43%, followed by 39% in visual arts. After that, enrollment falls considerably, with only 4% of students involved in theater, 2% in dance and 4% in other arts categories.

High school enrollment in arts classes varied from campus to campus, according to the study.

Casteel High school students favored visual arts, with 20% enrollment, followed by music at 14%, theater at 9%, other arts 14% and dance, 3%.

Visual arts also was a favorite among Arizona College Prep Oakland Campus, drawing 27% of students, with music attracting 27%

Enrollment in Hamilton High’s arts programs included 17% in visual arts, 11% in music; 14% in other types and 3% each in dance and theater.

Music had a slight edge in popularity among Basha High students with an 18% enrollment, followed by visual arts at 15%, 14% in other arts categories, 5% in dance and 3% in theater.

Visual arts drew more students at Chandler High than other types of arts classes with 17%. Music drew 10% of students while other types of arts instruction topped that with 12%. Theater and dance drew an enrollment of 3% and 5% of students, respectively.

Other art forms attracted more Perry students than any other type. The study showed 24% of Perry students were in those classes while visual arts attracted 16% and music 11%. Dance and theater accounted for 7% and 3% of students, respectively.

As of 2018, Arizona requires that K-8 students be offered courses in at least two different arts disciplines. Courses in visual arts and music were required at those grade levels before 2018.

High school students under state regulation must take at least one arts course or a vocational education course as a graduation requirement.

“Arts enrollment was highest among students in schools serving mixed-grade levels (67%) and lowest at high schools, 37%,” the study stated.

The study also found that statewide, arts enrollment was higher at schools with higher percentages of students who are eligible for free and reduced price lunches – generally an indication of lower income levels among households.