Putting Arts Education in the Mix


Over the past two decades, access and participation in arts education in grades K-12 has dropped for many districts across the Commonwealth. Many children do not have the opportunity to learn the important skills such as critical thinking, teamwork, and creativity that a quality arts education provides.

Arts education has clearly been dropped to a second tier status.

Changes in federal law under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) direct states to restructure their accountability and assistance systems for schools and districts. This offers Massachusetts an opportunity to include arts education in its new frameworks for what makes a successful school for the 2017-2018 school year.


On July 21, MASSCreative, along with its partners Arts|Learning, EdVestors, and the Boston Public Schools, participated in a forum sponsored by the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy to discuss new ideas on accountability and assistance with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The group submitted an original poster detailing the importance of putting “Arts Education in the Mix” and highlighted the need for all students across Massachusetts to receive a well-rounded education by including measures of arts education participation in Massachusetts’s accountability and assistance system. 

MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson spoke in front of a crowd of 150 education leaders, including DESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester, and outlined the importance of arts education: 

  • Student Engagement

Research has shown that arts education develops student motivation and engagement, including improved attendance, persistence, focused attention, heightened educational outcomes, and intellectual risk taking.

  • Postsecondary Readiness

Arts education helps students develop the skills they need to be successful in college and in the 21st century workplace, such as problem solving, critical and creative thinking, dealing with ambiguity and complexity, and collaboration and team work skills.

  • School Climate

Arts education can be a powerful driver of school climate and culture. The arts enhance relationships between teachers, students, families, and the community, creating new connections, fostering collaboration, and increasing school pride. 

DESE is expected to come out with a draft of the new frameworks for public comment in the fall.

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