Ingenuity's State of the Arts Report Shows Gains in Staffing, Class Time and Partnerships

Data from Chicago Public Schools reveal steady 3-year improvement

Jan 14, 2016, 09:21 ET from Ingenuity

CHICAGO, Jan. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Ingenuity released its annual progress report examining arts education in Chicago Public Schools in the 2014-15 school year. Among numerous positive developments, the report reflects an increase in the number of certified arts instructors, and 30,000 elementary school students with greater access to arts staffing and instruction than the year before.

"An arts education cannot be optional. By fostering creative thinking and enhancing other fields of study, it is an essential part of a well-rounded education, which is why I am proud of the progress that CPS is making to give more students access to a quality arts education," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "As Chicago's students continue to make academic gains in the classroom, we must also keep working to give them time in a studio or on a stage to help them reach their full potential."

Ingenuity's State of the Arts in Chicago Public Schools Progress Report shares the third year of findings on staffing, access, instructional minutes, arts resources and community arts partners. The report is a key tool in measuring the implementation of the CPS Arts Education Plan, which among many policies made arts a core subject in CPS. Among the report's findings for 2014-15:

  • Over 30,000 CPS students have greater access to arts staffing and instruction than one year ago
  • The total number of certified arts instructors increased from 1,278 in 2013-14 to 1,322 in 2014-15, with the greatest increases in visual arts and dance instructors
  • 68 percent of CPS schools reported meeting the recommendation of 1 arts instructor per 350 students – a 10 percentage point increase from the previous year
  • Over 96 percent of CPS schools partnered with at least one community arts partner for services ranging from field trips to in-school residencies

In addition to showing data specific to 2014-15,—with 360 CPS schools having participated in the Creative Schools Survey three years in a row—the report allows for clear comparisons to be drawn. Among these 360 schools, significant growth was found in Creative Schools Certification ratings, which are defined in the CPS Arts Education Plan as: Category 1 – Excelling; Category 2 – Strong; Category 3 – Developing; and Category 4 – Emerging. Nearly 72 percent were rated the two highest levels this past year, a 38 percent increase from Year 1.

"CPS has undergone numerous shifts in the past several years, but continues to improve and advance arts education efforts city-wide," said Paul Sznewajs, Executive Director of Ingenuity. "We now have 86 percent of CPS schools participating in the Creative Schools Survey, a significant increase from two years ago—and of those, more than half are classified as "strong" or "excelling" in the arts. There is still work to be done, but this meaningful progress reaffirms stakeholder commitments to these efforts."

At a school level, principals, instructors, arts partners, parents and other stakeholders can use the report to track their school's strengths and opportunities, as well as make strategic choices when planning for the arts.

"The arts have always been a cornerstone at CPS, as we are a vibrant District and serve a culturally-rich community," said CPS Chief Education Officer, Dr. Janice Jackson. "By offering our students access to the arts—including visual, dance and performance arts—we hope to inspire an appreciation for this expression, and inspire the next generation of creative, innovative Chicagoans."

Data was reported through multiple sources, including individual schools and hundreds of community arts partners, all of which feed Ingenuity's artlook Map – a public website focused on the dynamic landscape of arts education in Chicago.

Additional findings:

  • 91 CPS schools moved up from a category of "Developing" or "Emerging" to "Strong" or "Excelling" in the arts, with 28 percent of CPS schools improving their category
  • 98 percent of CPS high schools and 88 percent of CPS elementary schools had at least one FTE credentialed arts instructor
  • 23 of the schools reporting in 2014-15 had no arts instructor
  • Nearly $5 million in grants were distributed through the Creative Schools Fund, the independent grant-making fund administered by Ingenuity and sourced by Be Creative: A Campaign for Chicago Arts Education
  • Total identified funding, including both District-allocated and private sector investments, remained constant last year
  • 550 Community Arts Partners worked with CPS schools in 2014-15, 10 of which provided 28 percent of all school partnerships
  • 7 percent of active community arts partners were independent teaching artists
  • 55 percent of schools that completed Creative Schools Certification reported receiving external funding for arts education. Schools continue to support their arts programs through fundraising, ticket sales, student fees, crowdfunding, and Local School Council (LSC) support.

About Ingenuity
Ingenuity serves as Chicago's single hub of arts information, advocacy, strategy, and partnerships. Founded through city-wide collaboration, Ingenuity works in tandem with the CPS Department of Arts Education, certified teachers, Chicago's arts and cultural community, parents, students and others toward ensuring excellence in art education for every Chicago Public Schools student.


AmySue Mertens
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Dan McDonald
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