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

Arts Education in Public Secondary Schools

Highlights

  • 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).
  • 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 after-school activities in the arts during the 1998-99 school year.

Availability and Characteristics of Arts Education Programs in Public Secondary Schools

In secondary schools, arts education is typically provided through elective courses that are taught by arts teachers or specialists. Therefore, the secondary school survey differed from the elementary school survey in the kinds of information it requested. In order to determine the availability of arts education in public secondary schools, principals were asked a series of questions about their schools' programs in music, visual arts, dance, and drama/theatre. The first question addressed whether each arts subject was taught at the school during the regular school day. If so, principals were asked to provide further details on their instructional programs, such as the number of different courses offered in the subject, the number of full- and part-time teachers on staff who taught courses in the subject, and the type of space in which the subject was taught. As in the elementary school survey, principals were also asked if the district provided a written curriculum guide in the subject and whether the school received monies from non-district sources to assist in funding the arts programs. The secondary school survey also included a set of questions that allowed principals to describe ways in which creative writing was taught and incorporated into the curriculum. This was included to determine whether creative writing was considered a program of instruction that emphasized writing as an art form, separate from how it is taught or used in English courses or other curriculum areas.

Availability of Arts Education Programs

Most public secondary schools offered instruction in music, with 90 percent of all schools reporting that it was offered during the regular school day in 1999-2000 (figure 12 and table 20). Visual arts instruction was also offered in most secondary schools (93 percent). Fewer secondary schools (48 percent) reported that drama/theatre was taught during the regular school day, and dance was offered in even fewer secondary schools (14 percent). The percentages of schools that offered each of these arts subjects are presented in table 20, by various school characteristics. In general, large schools were more likely than small ones to offer instruction in each subject, but these differences were especially noticeable for dance and drama/theatre. Four percent of small schools reported instruction in dance, compared with 32 percent of large schools. Similarly, 30 percent of small schools had instruction in drama/theatre, compared with 75 percent of large schools. Differences in arts offerings by other school characteristics will be discussed for each subject in the sections that follow.

Characteristics of Music Instruction

Despite the overall prevalence of music instruction in public secondary schools, large schools were more likely than small schools to offer instruction in music (95 percent versus 84 percent) (table 20). The percentage of secondary schools offering music instruction did not vary by other school characteristics.

Number of music courses offered. Principals at schools that offered music instruction were asked to report the number of music courses that were taught during the 1998-99 school year. Thirty one percent of public secondary schools that offered music instruction taught one or two courses, 26 percent taught three or four courses, 18 percent taught five or six courses, and 26 percent taught more than six music courses (table 21). Large schools were more likely than moderate-size or small schools to offer more than six courses in music (48 percent versus 24 and 9 percent). Schools in cities and urban fringe areas were more likely than rural schools to offer more than six courses (38 and 33 percent versus 11 percent).

Number of music teachers on staff. Principals were asked to report the number of full-time and part-time teachers who taught music courses during the 1998-99 school year. Principals were instructed to consider any itinerant teachers as part-time staff, even if these teachers were fulltime employees of the district. Overall, most public secondary schools that offered music had at least one full-time music teacher on staff who taught courses in the subject, with 38 percent of schools reporting one full-time teacher, 34 percent reporting two full-time teachers, and 19 percent reporting three or more (figure 13). Sixty two percent of public secondary schools that offered music reported no part-time teachers on staff who taught courses in the subject. Twenty five percent of secondary schools reported one part-time teacher who taught courses in music, 9 percent reported two part-time teachers, and 3 percent reported three or more. The percentage of schools with two or more fulltime teachers on staff who taught courses in music varied by locale, geographic region, and poverty concentration (table 22). Schools in cities (65 percent), the urban fringe (65 percent), and towns (59 percent) were more likely than rural schools (30 percent) to have two or more full-time teachers. Schools in the Northeast were more likely to have two or more full-time teachers on staff than schools in the West (71 percent versus 43 percent). Also, schools with the lowest concentration of poverty were more likely than those with 50 to 74 percent concentration of poverty to have two or more full-time teachers on staff who taught courses in music (60 percent versus 40 percent).16 16Although the percentage difference between the lowest poverty category (60 percent) and the highest poverty category (40 percent) appears large, this difference was not statistically significant, due to high standard errors.

Space for music instruction. Overall, most public secondary schools that offered music had a dedicated room with special equipment for teaching music (91 percent) (table 23). The percentage of schools that had a dedicated room with special equipment showed no clear patterns by school characteristics, with little measurable variation.

Written curriculum guide for music. Of the secondary schools that offered instruction in music, 86 percent reported that their district had a written curriculum guide in music that the teachers were expected to follow (not shown in tables). Of the schools that had curriculum guides in music, 80 percent indicated that the curriculum guide was aligned with their states' standards or the National Standards for Arts Education (figure 14). However, 17 percent of principals did not know if it was aligned or not. Also, 83 percent indicated that the music curriculum guide had been created or updated in the last 5 years, and 10 percent of principals did not know when the guide had been created (figure 15).

Outside funding of music programs. Principals were asked whether their schools received funding from outside (non-district) sources, including (but not limited to) parent groups, booster clubs, or local businesses, to fund their instructional programs in music. If they did, principals were asked to indicate the approximate percentage of the music budget that came from these sources. Unlike public elementary schools that had limited non-district funding of music programs (20 percent), nearly half of public secondary schools (47 percent) received non-district funding for their music programs (table 24). Schools with the highest minority enrollment were less likely to report this kind of funding than schools with the lowest minority enrollment (33 percent versus 56 percent), as were schools with the highest poverty concentration compared with those with less than 35 percent and 35 to 49 percent poverty concentrations (23 percent versus 54 and 47 percent, respectively). About half (53 percent) of the secondary schools with access to non-district funding reported that 10 percent or less of their music budget came from such sources (figure 16). Another 34 percent reported that between 11 and 50 percent of their music budget was funded in this way, and 13 percent reported that more than 50 percent of their budget was funded from non-district funds.

Characteristics of Visual Arts Instruction

Visual arts instruction, like music instruction, was available at most regular public secondary schools (93 percent) (table 20). Large and moderate-size schools were more likely than small schools to offer instruction in visual arts (98 and 95 percent versus 84 percent).

Number of visual arts courses offered. Principals at schools that offered visual arts were also asked to report the number of courses that were taught during the 1998-99 school year. To summarize the number of visual arts courses offered, 28 percent of public secondary schools that offered visual arts reported that one or two courses were taught, 34 percent reported three or four courses, 20 percent reported five or six courses, and 18 percent reported more than six visual arts courses in their arts curriculum (table 25). Large schools were more likely to offer more than six visual arts courses than moderate size or small schools (39 percent versus 14 and 6 percent, respectively). Schools in the Northeast were more likely to offer more than six courses compared with schools in the other regions of the country (34 percent versus 8 to 19 percent).

Number of visual arts teachers on staff. Principals were asked to report the number of fulltime and part-time teachers who taught visual arts courses during the 1998-99 school year. Overall, most public secondary schools that offered the subject had one full-time teacher on staff who taught visual arts courses (62 percent), compared with 20 percent with two full-time teachers, and 13 percent with three or more (figure 17). Seventy-eight percent of secondary schools did not employ any part-time teachers (78 percent) who taught courses in visual arts; 20 percent employed one part-time teacher; and 2 percent employed two or more. The percentage of secondary schools with two or more full-time teachers who taught visual arts courses varied by geographic region and minority enrollment. Schools in the Northeast were the most likely to have two or more full-time teachers on staff who taught visual arts courses than schools in the other regions of the country (50 percent versus 25 to 33 percent) (table 26). Schools with the lowest minority enrollment were less likely to have two or more full-time teachers than schools with 6 to 20 percent and more than 50 percent minority enrollments (22 percent versus 42 and 36 percent).

Space for visual arts instruction. Overall, 87 percent of the public secondary schools that offered visual arts had a dedicated room with special equipment for teaching the subject (table 27). This finding varied little by school characteristics. One exception was that rural schools were less likely than urban fringe schools and schools in towns to have a dedicated room with special equipment for teaching visual arts (78 percent versus 92 and 93 percent). Another exception was that schools with the highest level of poverty concentration were less likely to have a dedicated room with special equipment than schools with the lowest poverty concentration (65 percent versus 92 percent). Conversely, schools with the highest concentration of poverty were more likely than schools with the lowest poverty concentration to have a dedicated room without special equipment for teaching visual arts (22 percent versus 6 percent).

Written curriculum guide for visual arts. Of the secondary schools that offered instruction in visual arts, 87 percent reported that their district had a written curriculum guide in visual arts (not shown in tables). Of the schools that had a written curriculum guide in visual arts, 81 percent indicated that it was aligned with their states' standards or the National Standards for Arts Education (figure 18). Fifteen percent of principals indicated that they did not know if this was the case. Also, 82 percent indicated that the visual arts curriculum guide had been created or updated in the last 5 years, although 8 percent of principals did not know when the guide had been created or updated (figure 19).

Outside funding of visual arts programs. Nondistrict funding of visual arts programs in public secondary schools (18 percent) was not as prevalent as it was for music (47 percent) (figure 20). Eighteen percent of secondary schools indicated that they typically receive funding from parent groups, booster clubs, or local businesses to support the education program in visual arts (not shown in tables). Moreover, non-district funding represented a small percentage of the visual arts budget in the majority of schools. About three quarters of these schools (74 percent) reported that 10 percent or less of the visual arts budget came from non-district sources (figure 20). Another 14 percent of schools reported that between 11 and 50 percent of their visual arts budget was thus funded, and 12 percent reported that more than 50 percent of their budget came from non-district funds.

Characteristics of Dance Instruction

In 1999-2000, 14 percent of public secondary schools reported that dance was taught during the regular school day (table 20). As noted earlier, large schools were more likely than small schools to include dance instruction in their instructional programs (32 percent versus 4 percent). Of the secondary schools that had dance instruction, 71 percent offered one or two courses in the subject during the 1998-99 school year, 21 percent offered three or four courses, and 8 percent offered five or more dance courses (table 28).

Dance teachers and space for instruction. Among the public secondary schools that offered dance instruction, 77 percent reported that at least one full-time teacher taught dance courses during the 1998-99 school year. Part-time teachers taught dance in 29 percent of schools. Dance teachers were provided a dedicated room with special equipment in 41 percent of the public secondary schools that offered this subject. Another 13 percent of schools provided a dedicated room with no special equipment, and 44 percent indicated that dance instruction took place in a gym, auditorium, or cafeteria.

Written curriculum guide for dance. Sixty eight percent of the public secondary schools that offered dance instruction reported that their district had a written curriculum guide in the subject. In 74 percent of these schools, the guide was aligned with their states' standards or the National Standards for Arts Education, although 22 percent of principals did not know whether this was the case.

Outside funding of dance programs. In schools that offered dance, 34 percent received non-district funding to support their programs. Forty four percent of the schools that received nondistrict funding reported that this represented 10 percent or less of their dance budget. Another 40 percent reported between 11 and 50 percent of their budget, and 16 percent reported that more than 50 percent of their dance budget came from non-district funding.

Characteristics of Drama/Theatre Instruction

In 1999-2000, 48 percent of public secondary schools reported that drama/theatre was taught during the regular school day. Sixty-eight percent of these schools indicated that one or two courses were offered in drama/theatre during the 1998-99 school year, 22 percent reported that three or four courses were offered, and 10 percent reported that five or more courses were offered in the subject (table 28).

Drama/theatre teachers and space for instruction. Of the public secondary schools that offered drama/theatre instruction, 84 percent reported that at least one full-time teacher taught courses in the subject during the 1998-99 school year. Part-time teachers taught drama/theatre courses at 22 percent of schools. In schools where drama/theatre was offered, 53 percent indicated that it was taught in a dedicated room with special equipment, compared with 24 percent of schools that used a dedicated room with no special equipment, and 18 percent that used a gym, auditorium, or cafeteria.

Written curriculum guide for drama/theatre. Three-quarters (75 percent) of the public secondary schools that offered drama/theatre instruction reported that their district had a written curriculum guide in the subject. In 76 percent of these schools, the guide was aligned with their states' standards or the National Standards for Arts Education. However, 22 percent of principals indicated that they did not know if this was the case.

Outside funding of drama/theatre programs. About one-quarter (23 percent) of the public secondary schools that offered drama/theatre received non-district funding to support their programs. Fifty-seven percent of schools reported that 10 percent or less of their drama/theatre budget came from non-district funding, 23 percent reported between 11 and 50 percent of their budget, and 20 percent reported that more than 50 percent of their budget came from non-district funding.

Creative Writing as Arts Instruction

The secondary school survey also included questions about the ways creative writing is taught in schools, since this subject is frequently considered a component of arts education. For the purposes of the survey, creative writing was defined as an instructional program that describes the process and techniques of original composition in various literary forms, such as short stories, plays, and poetry. Principals were asked whether their schools offered separate courses in creative writing, whether processes and techniques in creative writing were taught in courses offered by their English departments, and whether creative writing activities and instruction were integrated into other, unspecified, areas of the curriculum. Thirty-five percent of public secondary schools offered separate courses in creative writing in 1999-2000, and 90 percent of schools reported that creative writing processes and techniques were taught in courses offered by their English departments (figure 21). In addition, 81 percent reported that creative writing activities and instruction were integrated into other areas of the curriculum.

Supplemental Arts-Related Activities in Public Secondary Schools

The secondary school survey included several questions that addressed various ways that public secondary schools may augment the arts curricula that are offered. With a few exceptions, these questions were identical to those included in the elementary school survey.

Availability of Supplemental Programs and Activities

Field trips and visits from performing artists can be scheduled at any time during the school year. Thus, rather than asking principals in fall 1999 to project the kinds of arts-related programs and activities that would be taking place during the upcoming year, they were asked to report on those that had actually taken place during the previous school year, 1998-99. During the 1998-99 school year, 69 percent of public secondary schools sponsored field trips to art performances, and 68 percent sponsored field trips to art galleries or museums (table 29). Field trips to galleries or museums were more likely to be sponsored by large schools than by small or moderate-size schools (82 percent versus 64 percent). Thirty-four percent of public secondary schools had at least one visiting artist during the 1998-99 school year. Among schools that had sponsored visiting artists during that time, the overall mean number reported per school was 2.5 (not shown in tables). Eighteen percent of public secondary schools supported artists-in-residence during the 1998-99 school year. More schools in the Northeast supported artists-in-residence than schools in other regions of the country (33 percent versus 14 to 16 percent). The mean number of artists-in-residence supported by these schools was 2.0 (not shown in tables).

Other avenues for expanding students' arts experiences are through enrichment options that go beyond the regular school day or the school's own arts curriculum. About three-quarters (73 percent) of public secondary schools provided or sponsored after-school activities that incorporated the arts. Large schools were more likely to sponsor these activities than small schools (83 percent versus 64 percent). Schools in the urban fringe were more likely than schools in towns and rural areas to sponsor after-school activities (83 percent versus 63 and 65 percent).

Funding Supplemental Programs and Activities

Secondary schools were asked to indicate which among four different funding sources were used to support the supplemental arts programs and activities discussed above. The sources included state or local arts agencies, state or federal education grants, general school or district funds, and parent groups. Seventy-nine percent of schools that sponsored field trips to art galleries or museums were funded by general school or district funds, as were 79 percent of schools that sponsored trips to arts performances (table 30). In schools that sponsored visiting artists, 58 percent reported that general school or district funds supported the programs, and 50 percent supported artists-in-residence this way.

Parent groups were also supporters of field trips and artists in the schools, with between 22 and 32 percent of schools having access to such funds for these purposes. Some secondary schools used funding from state or local arts agencies to support artists-in-residence (36 percent), visiting artists (21 percent), field trips to art galleries and museums (10 percent), and trips to arts performances (7 percent). Also, some schools used funds from state or federal grants to support artists-in-residence (26 percent), visiting artists (18 percent), field trips to art galleries and museums (5 percent), and trips to arts performances (5 percent).

Administrative Support for Arts Education in Public Secondary Schools

Results of the secondary school survey show that 64 percent of schools included the arts in their mission statements, yearly goals, or school improvement plans (table 31). 17 Schools in the Northeast were more likely to report that their mission statement included the arts than were schools in other regions of the country (79 percent versus 58 to 63 percent). About half of public secondary schools (49 percent) had undertaken a school reform initiative related to arts education or the integration of the arts with other academic subjects. Again, schools in the Northeast were more likely to report involvement in some arts education reform than were schools in other regions of the country (72 percent versus 38 to 50 percent).

Status of Arts Specialists and Programs in Public Secondary Schools

Arts teachers in public secondary schools were generally included in selected management aspects of their schools. In 1999-2000, 87 percent of secondary school principals indicated that arts teachers were included on site-based management or school improvement teams, and/or leadership councils (table 32). Most secondary schools (91 percent) reported that arts teachers had input into the arts curriculum, and 76 percent reported that they had input into the allocation of arts funds. Fifty percent of secondary schools indicated that arts teachers had input in the hiring of new arts staff. Schools in the Southeast were less likely to report input from arts specialists in this area when compared with schools in other geographic regions (31 percent versus 51 to 62 percent). Most public secondary schools (96 percent) reported that arts teachers received the same kind of performance evaluation as teachers in other instructional programs at their schools (table 33). In addition, 91 percent of principals reported that they evaluated the arts program in the same manner that they evaluate other instructional programs. Twenty-three percent of public secondary schools conducted standardized or district-wide assessments of student performance and achievement in the arts.

District curriculum coordinators. Fifty-three percent of public secondary schools had a coordinator at the district level who was responsible for the arts programs in their schools. Small schools were less likely to have a district coordinator than moderate-size or large schools (39 percent versus 53 and 68 percent, respectively). Further, schools in cities were more likely than schools in the urban fringe, towns, and rural schools to have a district coordinator (74 percent versus 37 to 59 percent).

Perceived status of arts education among administrators, teachers, and parents. The secondary school survey also asked school principals their perceptions of the extent to which the administrators, non-arts teachers, and parents at their schools considered the arts an essential part of a high-quality education. 18This set of questions was asked of principals at all secondary schools, not just those with established arts programs. Response choices included "not at all," "to a small extent," "to a moderate extent," "to a great extent," and "cannot judge." Seventy two percent of principals believed that their school administrators (presumably including themselves) considered the arts essential to a great extent, and 20 percent felt that the arts were essential to administrators to a moderate extent (table 34). Less than half of the survey respondents indicated that they felt non-arts teaching staff and parents considered the arts essential to a great extent (40 percent and 41 percent, respectively). Parents of students in large schools were more likely than parents of students in small schools to be viewed as considering arts instruction as essential to a great extent (49 percent versus 36 percent). Also, more principals from schools with the lowest poverty concentration reported the belief that parents of students in their schools viewed the arts as essential to a great extent than principals in schools with the two highest concentrations of poverty (51 percent versus 31 and 24 percent).


17All respondents to the secondary school survey answered these questions, whether or not they reported offering specific instruction in any of the arts areas. Of the 686 secondary schools surveyed, 6 (or 2 percent) did not offer any instruction in music, visual arts, dance, or drama/theatre.

18 It should be kept in mind that asking respondents about the beliefs of others is subject to a certain degree of subjectivity, and thus the results represent the perspective of school principals, but do not necessarily reflect the actual views of (other) administrators, teachers, and parents.

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