APPAM Presentation: Did the Frequency of Early Elementary Classroom Arts Instruction Decrease during the No Child Left behind Era? If so, for Whom?
2018 APPAM Conference
Presentation Title: Did the Frequency of Early Elementary Classroom Arts Instruction Decrease during the No Child Left behind Era? If so, for Whom? (Panel Paper)
Authors: Taylor V. Gara, Liane Brouillette, George Farkas
Arts experiences help children develop culturally-driven social, emotional, and cognitive competencies. Yet, little is documented about the frequency of early elementary classroom teachers’ use of arts instruction to inform educational policy. Analyzing teacher reports from two cohorts of data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES) Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, this study looked at changes in the frequency of early elementary classroom arts instruction from the 1999–2000 to the 2011–12 school year. The majority of classroom teachers surveyed in our study reported on first-grade students (94%–96%). We found that the percentage of children spending no classroom time on arts activities significantly increased for music, visual art, dance, and theater. This decreased participation in classroom arts activities was generally largest for students in the bottom one-third of the socioeconomic class distribution.
Overall, participation in at least some music or visual arts activities continued above 95%. However, participation in at least some dance fell to about 46% and participation in at least some theater to about 40% (compared to 58% and 56% reported in the 1999–2000 school year). In contrast, for music, dance, and theater, among students receiving at least some exposure during regular class time, the amount of time spent on these activities each week significantly increased. This finding was most robust for music; those students who already had at least some participation experienced a 20-minute increase in the amount of classroom time spent on music activities.
Additional results revealed that during the No Child Left Behind era many early elementary educators completely eliminated dance and theater activities from their classrooms. However, those teachers who did not completely eliminate music, dance, or theater activities actually increased the time devoted to them. This heterogeneity in teachers’ responses to policy changes must be accounted for in future attempts to project the likely consequences of alternative educational policies.