BOSTON, February 8, 2017—MASSCreative today praised the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for including arts education in the Commonwealth’s draft plan for new accountability standards. The standards were written in response to a new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the federal law that has guided the nation’s educational system for the last two decades.
Passed in late 2015 in a rare show of bipartisanship, ESSA includes instruction in the arts in the federal definition of a “well-rounded education.” In preparation for implementation of ESSA for the 2017-18 academic year, each state must revise its accountability plan for school districts to reflect this new definition. In addition to test scores, accountability standards must include other indicators of school quality, such as measures of participation in arts instruction.
“This proposal puts arts education squarely in the core curriculum for schools and students. By measuring participation of students in arts education from grades K-12 as criteria for school success, state leaders have recognized the impact that that arts have on college readiness, school climate, and teaching our kids valuable 21st century skills. This marks a bold step forward for educating the ‘whole child’ after 20 years of an ever-narrowing curriculum,” said Matt Wilson, MASSCreative’s Executive Director.
The draft plan was written after DESE engaged in six months of research and outreach to stakeholders throughout the state. It identifies lack of arts education participation by six percent of elementary and middle school students and 50 percent of high school students, as one of the state’s current educational challenges. It includes “the arts” as a core subject area, along with civics and foreign languages. It recommends “access to the arts” as an accountability measure for all students, and “improvement in access to the arts” as an accountability measure for high needs students.
The public will have 30 days to comment on the draft plan released today, and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote on the proposal at its March 28 meeting. The plan can be found at http://www.mass.gov/edu/docs/ese/accountability/annual-reports/essa-state-plan-draft.docx and comments can be e-mailed to ESSA@doe.mass.edu.
Founded in 2012, MASSCreative works to build a more vibrant, healthy, and equitable Massachusetts. MASSCreative works with artists, leaders, supporters, and partners of the arts, cultural, and creative community to advocate for the resources and support necessary for the sector to thrive. Nearly 400 arts and cultural organizations and working artists from across the Commonwealth are members of MASSCreative.