Investigating Causal Effects of Arts Education Experiences: Experimental Evidence from Houston's Arts Access Initiative

Child painting

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Researchers found arts-learning experiences benefit students in terms of reductions in disciplinary infractions, increases in compassion for others and improvements in writing achievement.

Arts education has steadily declined in America since the 1980s, and test-based accountability reforms have increased for K-12 education.

Through a randomized controlled trial with 10,548 students who were enrolled in 42 schools across the Houston area, researchers found arts-learning experiences benefit students in terms of reductions in disciplinary infractions, increases in compassion for others and improvements in writing achievement. Furthermore, arts-education experiences improve school engagement and college aspirations. 

The report encourages policymakers to be mindful and considerate of these multifaceted educational benefits when assessing the opportunity costs that come with decisions pertaining to the provision of the arts in schools.

Photo: rawpixel/Unsplash

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