PACE Arts Integration Program Increases Student Skill Sets by 16%

Uncategorized Oct 21, 2020

Photo caption: Arts integration programs have been shown to increase student achievements by as much as 16%. 

What if we told you that drawing and painting and collage-making don’t just benefit the students at an online art school like ours? Art-making benefits students who want to learn to read and write better, too.

According to a study released by Indiana Arts Commission (IAC), the state’s PACE (Partnering Arts, Communities, and Education) program just released a study that followed the progress students made in a program that combines the arts with the school’s literacy program. 

The short of it is that within the parameters of this arts integration project, student achievement levels increased by an average of 16% overall. 

Combining Arts and Literacy Improves Student Skills

The study found that:

  • Students writing skills increased an average of 18%
  • Student art skills increased an average of 28%
  • Student engagement in school increased an average of 15%
  • Student communication skills increased an average of 14%

The PACE program, the brainchild of Dr. Robert F. Sabol of Purdue University, brings together local arts professionals and classes of elementary students. It’s a collaborative effort that brings the arts professional into the classroom every week for a whole school year. 

What Is Arts Integration?

According to the Kennedy Center for the Arts

Arts integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area and meets evolving objectives in both. 

This particular arts integration project is intended to combine language arts lessons with art. What’s of equal if not greater importance is the fact that teachers report that their students also benefit on a social-emotional level from their artistic endeavors as well. 

In other words, arts integration activities benefit the whole child. Additionally, because kids are having fun while they’re learning, they enjoy their time in the classroom. Arts and literacy programs engage students, as well as the teachers who teach them. 

And by bringing in an arts professional, these types of arts integration projects also engage the community. 

The Benefits of Drawing and Paint Beyond the Artist’s Easel

Thousands of years before STEM was a thing, before there were measurable arts standards and before grade school children made pictures to post on the fridge, human beings drew.

It's really kind of fundamental to who we are.

As we mentioned in a recent blog post about the benefits of drawing, it has been demonstrated that drawing and doodling improve memory by almost 30%. 

The history of the English language (or any other language for that matter) is the history of drawing to an extent. Research suggests that drawing and doodling help people better process information, because these activities activate more areas of the brain. 

Drawing activities also have a meditative effect on those who doodle regularly. That’s one of the reasons why our own John Milan, co-founder of the Milan Art Institute, loves doodling so much and teaches fine art doodling in art workshops here on our campus near Athens, Georgia. 

Arts Integration and the New Art Renaissance 

In truth, it would be difficult to talk about the coming Art Revolution without mentioning the importance of arts integration in schools across the country. Really, it’s in some ways just a logical extension of the direction that art has been moving in for the last several centuries. 

What we mean by that is that once upon a time, art wasn’t something that the common person was exposed to. It was mostly the realm of the church and then the government and finally, wealthy collectors. For a very long time - centuries, in fact - art hanging on the common person’s walls just wasn’t common.

Things have changed over the centuries, thankfully. 

As Elli Milan points out in the art history section of the Mastery Program, nowadays, people wear art on their arms in the form of tattoos and buy T-Shirts printed with their favorite artist’s work on them. 

In other words, the visual arts are everywhere, and while they have never completely left the schools, school art programs are often victim to budget cuts. 

Here's an example. Recent headlines in the arts education news world report that arts education budgets in New York City have been reduced by as much as 70% over the previous year’s budget. 

And that’s just in New York City, a place known for championing arts and culture. It's difficult to imagine what it's like for other communities that don't have the Big Apple's reputation for being a center for the arts.

This sort of thing happens - in part - when art is looked at as a secondary subject to be learned after students learn STEM subjects or reading and writing. 

Educational Technology and Arts Education Meet

However, teachers across the country are learning what we as an online art school have learned: Technology is the great equalizer in arts education. 

Educators who work in school districts that have reduced art budgets can access arts integrated lessons from institutions, like the Getty Museum

These are lessons that museum educators or other teachers have developed, which align with common core standards, as well as national and state standards. They’re also free for teachers to download and  to use in their classrooms. 

Finally, as recent research continues to evolve and student scores in core subjects, like reading, continue to improve with the integration of arts in the curriculum, it may be that the arts education news we read in the future will be very bright, indeed. 

As for PACE program's arts integrated curriculum that started this whole post? Sixteen-hundred students have benefited from it since the year 2015. 

Read More About Arts Education by Checking Out These Posts

Why the Era of the Starving Artist is Over

How to Create Expressive Art

Art Schools in Georgia: What You Need to Know

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