The NY Times recently reported on a national survey of public and private schools. The survey, entitled 2008 Arts Report Card, is intended to report the status of arts and musical education during the past year.
Music and art instruction in American eighth-grade classrooms has remained flat over the last decade, according to a new survey by the Department of Education, and one official involved in the survey called student achievement in those subjects “mediocre.”
Many private schools make an education in the Arts a high priority in their schools, however, for schools dependent on funding from the government, which in turn is dependent on student achievement on standardized tests, Arts programs have become casualties in the attempt to increase standard test grades.
Previous studies have contradicted one another. Some found that art, music, history and other classes were being taught less frequently as schools focused on reading and math, since the federal No Child Left Behind law holds schools accountable for test results in only those subjects. But a study by the Government Accountability Office reported in February that the time devoted to arts instruction had remained constant in recent years.
It is interesting to note that budget cuts have affected more than just the pursuit of an education with the Arts. The survey itself was a casualty of budget considerations.
Stuart Kerachsky, acting commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics at the Education Department, said budget considerations last year had limited the number of students tested as well as the questions posed, rendering it impossible to determine the percentage of students achieving at the advanced, proficient, basic and below basic levels, indicators used to report on reading and other national assessments.