Your Guide to Navigating Opportunities for the Arts Under ESSA


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This post comes from the Arts Education Partnership, a national coalition of over 100 education, arts, business, culture, government and philanthropy organizations at Education Commission of the States.

Is your state focused on building student literacy across districts? The Every Student Succeeds Act provides funds to integrate the arts into literacy instruction.

Is your district’s 21st Century Community Learning Center seeking to enrich educational opportunities for students with after-school programs? ESSA provides funds for programs that include music and arts activities.

Is your school looking to implement an improvement plan that embraces whole school reform and strengthens the effectiveness of educators? ESSA provides funds for schoolwide programs that engage the arts.

In fact, ESSA provides funding across an even wider range of areas, and many of these allow for the inclusion of the arts. Recently updated with a new chapter on Title IV, ESSA: Mapping Opportunities for the Arts helps states and districts navigate this federal law and the new and expanded possibilities to increase access to the arts.

Where to start? Let’s start at the beginning.

This interactive report allows you to quickly open any chapter using the table of contents on the cover page and includes links throughout the report to easily move from chapter to chapter and explore additional resources.

While some chapters outline the components of specific titles, other chapters take a closer look at themes/topics found throughout the law — such as stakeholder engagement, tiers of evidence and a well-rounded education — creating a comprehensive look at the intricacies of ESSA. Each chapter follows a concise framework:

  • Introduction. For those who may be unfamiliar with ESSA, each chapter provides general information about the topic area, detailing core components and defining any key terms.
  • Opportunities for the Arts. This section identifies opportunities that exist within specific titles of the law, grant programs and federal requirements and guidelines.
  • Research. These research study findings demonstrate how the arts can help achieve goals within each ESSA topic area and support the present and future success of students.
  • Examples. Promising examples of how state and district initiatives include the arts in their state plans reveal the multiple and customizable pathways that exist for states.
  • Resources. With this federal law came a robust collection of resources from national, state and local contributors — including the Arts Education Partnership’s partner organizations. Each chapter features a curated collection of additional resources that align with the topic area and provide both general and arts-focused content.

As ESSA implementation proceeds and states continue to adapt their plans with approaches to respond to their unique needs, ESSA: Mapping Opportunities for the Arts serves as guiding document to help navigate this law and the everchanging landscape of education.

Author profile
Project Manager at Education Commission of the States |

As a project manager, Cassandra contributes to reports and publications for the Arts Education Partnership and provides support for AEP convenings. Prior to this position, she worked as a communications specialist at Education Commission of the States and AEP. With an educational background in art history and a strong belief in the transformational qualities of learning, Cassandra is passionate about her work and dedicated to sharing research and resources on the arts in education with stakeholders across the country.

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