Arts Education Boosts Writing Scores

Third-grader Justin Willis, 7, center, dances with his classmates during the Art Sparks movement class at Harris Elementary School in Akron, Ohio, on September 18, 2015. Art Sparks is an educational outreach program that reinforces academics and learning through dance. (Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal/TNS via Getty Images)

Extra arts education boosts students’ writing scores — and their compassion, big new study finds.

“Arts learning experiences benefit students in terms of social, emotional, and academic outcomes,” say researchers Dan Bowen of Texas A&M and Brian Kisida of the University of Missouri. The study, released Tuesday by Houston Education Research Consortium, looked at elementary and middle schools serving predominantly low-income students of color. One third of these schools reported lacking a full-time arts teacher. When the researchers compared the two groups of schools, they looked at academics but also responses to surveys that asked students whether they agreed with statements like, “I want to help people who get treated badly,” “School work is interesting,” and “I plan to go to college.”

The positive effects on writing test scores, discipline, and compassion were small to moderate. Students’ disciplinary infraction rates, for instance, fell by 3.6 percentage points.