On the 2008 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the average responding scores of 8th-graders in high-poverty schools were 45 points lower in music and 43 points lower in visual arts than the respective scores of 8th-graders in low-poverty schools.
The 2008 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the arts was given to a nationally representative sample of 8th-grade public and private school students. Two separate scores are reported for the arts assessment: average responding score and average creating task score. The average responding score is reported for both music and visual arts and reflects students' ability to observe, describe, analyze, and evaluate existing works of music and art through multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. The average creating task score was collected only for visual arts and reflected students' ability to create and communicate through original works of art. To discuss both music and art, only the average responding scores are presented in this indicator—these average scores for music and visual arts are reported on two separate NAEP scales, each ranging from 0 to 300, with the average set at 150. Although the results for music and visual arts cannot be compared, the differences between student groups exhibited similar patterns in both the music and visual arts disciplines.
Average scores for both the music and visual arts assessments varied by student characteristics (see table A-14-1). Females scored 10 points higher on average than males in music and 11 points higher in visual arts (155 vs. 145 for both subjects). In music, the scores of White and Asian/Pacific Islander students were 29 to 32 points higher than those of Black and Hispanic students, and in visual arts, White and Asian/Pacific Islander students scored 22 to 31 points higher than Black and Hispanic students. For example, the average music score for Whites was 161, compared with 130 for Blacks and 129 for Hispanics. Looking at the student characteristic of parents' education, it can be seen that the performance gaps between students whose parents graduated from college and those whose parents did not finish high school were 34 points for music and 24 points for visual arts (161 vs. 127 and 161 vs. 137, respectively).
In 2008, 8th-grade students at private schools scored 14 points higher on the music assessment than students at public schools (163 vs. 149), but there was no measurable difference between those groups in scores on the visual arts assessment. Eighth-graders who attended city schools had an average score of 142 in music, which was lower than the scores of their peers at suburban (155), town (156), and rural schools (150). Students who attended city schools also had a lower average score in visual arts than did students from suburban schools (144 vs. 155). Students in high-poverty schools (schools where more than 75 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch [FRPL]) had average scores that were 45 points lower in music than the scores of students in low-poverty schools (schools where 25 percent or fewer of students are eligible for FRPL) (123 vs. 168). A similar pattern was found in the scores of students at high- versus low-poverty schools on the visual arts assessment.
Music and visual arts are two distinct disciplines; therefore, results are reported separately for each area and cannot be compared. Differences are calculated based on unrounded scores. For more information on NAEP, see supplemental note 4. For more information on parents' education, race/ethnicity, locale, and free or reduced-price lunch eligibility, see supplemental note 1.
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