Photo: Flickr user Brett Davis

Exposure to arts education was linked to more empathy and engagement, better writing scores and fewer disciplinary problems.

In the era of evidence-based education policymaking, arts education hasn't always gotten its due. But a new analysis from the Kinder Institute's Houston Education Research Consortium and the Brookings Institution reveals just how valuable exposure to the arts can be for students.

From the Brookings Institution:

Through our partnership with the Houston Education Research Consortium, we obtained access to student-level demographics, attendance and disciplinary records and test score achievement, as well as the ability to collect original survey data from all 42 schools on students’ school engagement and social and emotional-related outcomes.

We find that a substantial increase in arts educational experiences has remarkable impacts on students’ academic, social and emotional outcomes. Relative to students assigned to the control group, treatment school students experienced a 3.6 percentage point reduction in disciplinary infractions, an improvement of 13 percent of a standard deviation in standardized writing scores, and an increase of 8 percent of a standard deviation in their compassion for others. In terms of our measure of compassion for others, students who received more arts education experiences are more interested in how other people feel and more likely to want to help people who are treated badly.

Read the full report here.

And more from the Brookings Institution here.