Investigating Causal Effects of Arts Education Experiences

Investigating Causal Effects of Arts Education Experiences

While the emphasis on standardized testing has resulted in cuts to arts education, the arts are vital to public education, not least because they support positive social and emotional learning, enhance skills and knowledge that can improve performance in other subject areas, and boost creativity, a report from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University finds. The report, Investigating Causal Effects of Arts Education Experiences: Experimental Evidence from Houston’s Arts Access Initiative (33 pages, PDF; or brief, 8 pages, PDF), analyzed outcomes of a randomized controlled trial with 10,548 students in forty-two schools across the Houston area and found that increased opportunities for arts-learning experiences led to multifaceted educational benefits, including fewer disciplinary infractions, improved writing skills, and enhanced school engagement and college aspirations. According to the report's authors, the evidence suggests that increased exposure to arts education does not interfere with student achievement in subjects such as math and reading, and that cuts in arts learning generate significant social costs in the long run.