New NEA Study Links Arts Ed to Lifelong Benefits for At-Risk Youth

Mon, 05/21/2012 - 10:20am

The National Endowment for the Arts recently released a study describing the impact of arts education on at-risk students.  According to the report, arts involvement contributes to an overall improvement life circumstances for at-risk youth, encouraging them to achieve academically, remain engaged in their community and pursue professional careers after college.

The NEA’s study, The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies, tracked children, teenagers, and young adults with both high and low arts engagement in or out of school.  Among the key findings, the report describes the overall positive impact arts involvement has on education, civic engagement and economic advancement on students from disadvantaged economic backgrounds.

One-third of at-risk students who participate in the arts go on to complete a course in calculus, for example.  They are also 2-3 times more likely then non-arts participating at-risk students to demonstrate engagement within their high school community by participating in sports or other extra-curricular activities. In adulthood, the arts-exposed at-risk students have the highest rate of selecting a major leading to a professional degree and are twice as likely than non-arts exposed peers to volunteer in their communities.

Not surprisingly, the report’s key findings reaffirm the urgency of Arts for LA’s 2011-2013 Policy Framework. Arts for LA’s Policy Framework, crafted in collaboration with state, regional and local leaders in arts, business and government, was developed as a tool to build awareness around significant issues affecting Los Angeles County.  The current framework, in effect until 2013, keeps Arts for LA’s advocacy focus on the value of arts education, the impact of the cultural economy, and the need for civic engagement on arts issues.

The NEA’s report provides helpful context for the current framework as it links arts education directly to lifelong civic engagement and draws an important connection between arts education and economic advancement among students whose life circumstances sometimes bar upward mobility.

For more information on the report, read the National Endowment for the Arts’s press releaseA PDF download of the report is also available.

Photo credit: "Between the Buses" by modenadude, on Flickr.