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Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 1999-2000
NCES: 2002131
May 2002

Executive Summary

Background

During the last decade, arts instruction has received increasing attention as an important aspect of education. The Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (U.S. Public Law 103-382), and the release of the voluntary National Standards for Arts Education (Consortium of National Arts Education Association 1994), demonstrated this increase in attention. By 1998, there were no national data sources that specifically addressed the condition of arts education in the nation's public schools. To fill this data gap, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), and the Office of Reform Assistance and Dissemination (ORAD) of OERI requested that surveys be conducted under the Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education. The purpose of this report is to provide a national profile of the status of arts education in the nation's regular 1 public schools during the 1999-2000 school year. Specifically, this report presents information on the characteristics of public elementary and secondary school arts education programs, including data on the availability of instruction in the arts, staffing, funding, supplemental programs and activities, and administrative support of arts education.

This report is based on data that were collected from elementary and secondary school principals and from elementary school arts specialists and classroom teachers during the 1999-2000 school year. The teacher-level component provides data on the educational backgrounds and experience of arts teachers and the curricula and learning environments that characterize arts education. The school-level results presented in this report are based on questionnaire data from 640 public elementary school principals and 686 public secondary school principals (or their designated respondents). The elementary school teacher findings are based on data collected from 453 music specialists, 331 visual arts specialists, and 497 regular classroom teachers. The responses to the school questionnaires were weighted to produce national estimates that represent all regular public elementary and secondary schools in the United States; those for the teacher surveys were weighted to produce national estimates that represent all regular elementary school classroom teachers, music specialists, and visual arts specialists.

Key Findings

Arts Education in Public Elementary Schools

The elementary school survey addressed a variety of topics regarding characteristics of arts education programs in public elementary schools during the 1999-2000 school year. In 1999-2000, music instruction and visual arts instruction were available in most of the nation's public elementary schools (94 and 87 percent, respectively). Dance and drama/theatre were available in less than one third of elementary schools (20 and 19 percent, respectively). Results of the elementary school survey also indicate that:

  • Overall, 72 percent of elementary schools that offered music instruction and 55 percent of elementary schools that offered visual arts instruction employed full-time specialists to teach these subjects. Full-time specialists in dance were employed by 24 percent of elementary schools that offered this subject, and full-time specialists in drama/theatre were employed by 16 percent of elementary schools that offered it.
  • Sixty-seven percent of elementary schools that offered music had dedicated rooms with special equipment for instruction in this subject. Of the schools that offered visual arts, 56 percent had dedicated rooms with special equipment for visual arts. Fourteen percent of elementary schools that offered dance had dedicated rooms with special equipment for dance instruction, and 13 percent of schools with drama/theatre had dedicated rooms with special equipment for this subject.
  • Seventy-seven percent of regular public elementary schools sponsored field trips to arts performances during the 1998-99 school year, and 65 percent sponsored field trips to art galleries or museums. Thirty-eight percent sponsored visiting artists, 22 percent sponsored artists-in-residence, and 51 percent of public elementary schools sponsored afterschool activities that included the arts during the 1998-99 school year.

Arts Education in Public Secondary Schools

Music and visual arts instruction were offered in most of the nation's public secondary schools (90 and 93 percent, respectively) in 1999-2000. Dance and drama/theatre instruction were less commonly offered within secondary schools (14 and 48 percent, respectively). Further, the secondary school survey indicates that:

  • Most public secondary schools that offered music, visual arts, dance, and drama/theatre employed full-time specialists to teach these subjects, with 91 percent reporting one or more full-time music specialists, 94 percent reporting one or more full-time visual arts specialists, 77 percent reporting one or more full-time dance specialists, and 84 percent reporting one or more full-time drama/theatre specialists.
  • In 1999-2000, 91 percent of public secondary schools that offered music instruction had dedicated music rooms with special equipment for teaching the subject, and 87 percent of those with visual arts instruction had dedicated art rooms with special equipment. Of the schools that offered dance, 41 percent provided dedicated dance spaces with special equipment, and of those that offered drama/theatre, 53 percent provided dedicated theatre spaces with special equipment.
  • Field trips to arts performances were sponsored by 69 percent of regular public secondary schools during the 1998-99 school year, and 68 percent sponsored field trips to art galleries or museums. Thirty-four percent of secondary schools sponsored visiting artists, 18 percent sponsored artists-inresidence, and 73 percent sponsored afterschool activities in the arts during the 1998-99 school year.

Elementary Music Specialists, Visual Arts Specialists, and Self-Contained Classroom Teachers

The teacher surveys gathered information related to the preparation, working environments, and instructional practices of public elementary school music and visual arts specialists and non-arts classroom teachers. Results from the three teacher surveys indicate that:

  • In 1999-2000, 45 percent of music specialists and 39 percent of visual arts specialists had a master's degree in their respective fields of study or in a related field. Forty-five percent of regular classroom teachers had a master's degree.
  • Arts specialists participated in a variety of professional development activities. For instance, 72 percent of music specialists and 79 percent of visual arts specialists reported professional development activities focusing on the integration of music or visual arts into other subject areas within the last 12 months.
  • A sizable majority of music and visual arts specialists felt that their participation in various professional development activities focusing on arts instruction improved their teaching skills to a moderate or great extent (69 to 75 percent).
  • On a typical school day in 1999-2000, music specialists taught an average of six different classes of students. Visual arts specialists taught on average five classes on a typical school day.
  • Visual arts specialists had more time set aside each week for planning or preparation during the regular school day than music specialists and classroom teachers (4.2 hours versus 3.6 and 3.4 hours, respectively).
  • Forty-six percent of music specialists and 44 percent of visual arts specialists strongly agreed with the statement that parents support them in their efforts to educate their children. Fifty-eight percent of music specialists and 53 percent of visual arts specialists strongly agreed that they were supported by the administration at their schools.


1 Regular school is defined as a public elementary/secondary school that does not focus primarily on vocational, special, or alternative education.

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