Educators say art education improves test scores |

Educators say art education improves test scores

DENVER ” Educators said Monday they’re hoping to increase the number of school districts offering art classes as evidence has shown they help students learn and improve test scores.

“The benefits of arts education are clear. Student involvement in the arts has a positive impact on their overall achievement and helps keep them in school,” said Elaine Mariner, executive director of the Colorado Council on the Arts.

Mariner said a recent study commissioned by the arts council found that students who took art classes had higher scores on the Colorado Student Assessment Program in reading, writing and science. They also had lower dropout rates.

The study found 93 percent of elementary schools, 86 percent of middle schools, and 83 percent of high schools offer at least one arts class.

Education Commissioner Dwight Jones said arts classes encourage students to think creatively, which companies want. He said it’s disturbing that 53 percent of Colorado high school students are not taking any arts courses. The state has hired an arts adviser to help the state develop standards, he said.

Rep. Mike Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs, said schools spend too much time focusing on statewide student assessment courses including reading, math, science and writing that affect test scores and often ignore arts classes because they aren’t on the test. He said the CSAPs should stand for “Colorado State Arts Program.”

“Art is the creative side of the word ‘smart,”‘ he said.

Gerald Keefe, superintendent of the Kit Carson School District, said his district has only 100 students near the Kansas border, but the district offers arts classes throughout public education.

He said the district mingles art classes with other activities that helps students become well-rounded. He said even basketball players are called on to play the national anthem before a game.

“Art education is woven into the curriculum, just the same as reading and math,” he said.

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