General Education

The Proven Benefits of an Arts Education

The Proven Benefits of an Arts Education
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Lori Sherman profile
Lori Sherman January 21, 2015

Multiple studies have shown that an arts-rich curriculum can teach kids essential life lessons. Read about how your children grow when they learn in and through the arts.

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Multiple studies — including the Center for Arts Education’s own research — have shown that an arts-rich curriculum produces tangible results for students.

Studying visual and performing arts contributes to children’s intellectual growth and emotional health. It also provides them with the opportunity to excel — not just in the arts, but also across subject areas and potential career paths.

Here are just a few benefits of a quality arts education, according to the studies:

Higher Graduation Rates

CAE’s study of more than two hundred NYC high schools found a close correlation between arts programs and graduation rates. Schools in the top third of graduation rates also had the most well-developed arts education programs; those in the bottom third of graduation rates offered the least arts programming.

Improved Cognition

Studies by the Dana Foundation demonstrate a close correlation between exposure to the arts and improved skills in cognition and attention for learning.

Higher Self-Esteem

According to a multi-city U.S. Department of Justice study, arts programming not only increased academic performance, but also decreased juvenile delinquency and drug use, increased self-esteem, and led to more positive interactions with peers and adults.

Increased Involvement

An 11-year-old national study that examined youth in low-income neighborhoods found that those who participated in arts programs were much more likely to be high academic achievers, be elected to student government, participate in a math or science fair, or win an award for writing an essay or poem. Moreover, students involved in the arts had higher rates of community service participation, watched fewer hours of television, and reported lower levels of boredom in school.

Improved Work Ethic

Research demonstrates that once students experience success in arts classes, they are better able to understand and appreciate the benefits and processes of the hard work that goes into all learning.

Higher SAT Scores

The national evaluation of the YouthARTS Development Project found that students who participate in arts learning for all four years of high school scored substantially higher on the SAT than students with six or fewer months’ training in the arts. Arts-learning participants scored, on average, 58 points higher on verbal and 38 points higher on math.

Enhanced Capacity for Career Success

According to multiple studies and surveys of business leaders, music and the arts open pathways to creative thinking, which can be a key element in career success in fields outside the arts. According to a 2010 IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs, creativity was identified as the number-one leadership competency of the future.


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