The Arts Education Partnership, ESSA and a Well-Rounded Education


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As the new Director of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP), I am eager to build on AEP’s 20-year legacy of working to ensure all students have access to the benefits of a complete and competitive education including the arts. Over the past several weeks I’ve had the opportunity to engage with many members of the arts education community and am continually inspired by the energy and commitment they bring for achieving this goal.

AEP serves as the junction point among the arts and education communities as well as the local, state and federal policy communities. As a new center within Education Commission of the States, AEP will expand upon this role and provide our partners and other stakeholders with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to move the needle on our collective goals for the arts in education.

One of our current priorities is developing resources supporting the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA opens several important opportunities for including the arts in U.S. classrooms. These include:

  • The arts as part of a well-rounded education that opens up funding for all students to have access to English language arts and mathematics as well as traditionally “non-tested” subjects such as the arts, humanities and physical education.
  • The arts as a means for achieving the goals of Title I for ensuring all students in all schools are able to have access to and succeed in a high-quality education.
  • The arts as a lever to support and help develop effective educators to ensure every student has the best opportunity to succeed.
  • The arts as part of a comprehensive system of education that includes the interaction of schools and community-based organizations providing learning opportunities to strengthen and support student achievement.

As states and districts continue to define and implement ESSA, AEP and our partner organizations will be working with other arts and education stakeholders to provide an understanding of the timing and opportunities available for the arts education community through ESSA; the knowledge and resources to engage in the implementation of ESSA as it proceeds at both the state and local levels; and exemplars of innovative policies and programs that engage the arts as part of a well-rounded education.

In the meantime, I invite you to explore the many resources currently available on the AEP website such as ArtScan, our 50-state database of arts education policies, and ArtsEdSearch, our clearinghouse of research on the benefits of arts education for both students and educators. Visit our publication store where you will find a variety of resources on the arts in education, many of which are available for free download. And, finally, stay tuned to the ArtsEd Digest for updates on the work of AEP and our partner organizations.

It is an exciting time for arts education! I look forward to working with the AEP partner organizations and the broader arts education community to continue demonstrating the critical role the arts and arts education play in helping all students succeed in school, work and life.

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