CHICAGO, Nov. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Ingenuity has released its annual State of the Arts in Chicago Public Schools report, which reflects an increase in elementary schools meeting weekly instructional minutes and the number of schools Strong or Excelling in the arts across nearly every network. These latest findings make it clear that schools have made significant progress in expanding and incorporating arts in the school day since 2013 when CPS put the Arts Education Plan into action.
"We know that exposure to the arts is just as critical as math and sciences to a 21st century education, which is why we launched the district's first comprehensive arts plan to improve access for students in schools across the city," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "Since that time, the arts have become a core component of the school day, helping students excel in their studies overall, while providing them the creative outlet that allows them to realize their full potential."
Arts Liaisons—CPS employees nominated by their principals to be the school's "arts champion"—report data which are the basis for their school's Creative Schools Certification rating (a four-point scale from Emerging to Excelling). For example, Excelling schools meet an arts instructor to student ratio of 1:350.
Research shows that in schools with rich arts programs, students have increased attendance and graduation rates, and are more civically involved, and teachers report higher job satisfaction.
Ingenuity—CPS' non-profit partner—has garnered national attention for its comprehensive data reporting on arts education resources and implementation in the nation's third largest school district. The fourth year of findings include:
Over 2/3 of CPS students attend a school Strong or Excelling in the arts
On average, 96% of elementary school students had access to arts instruction
96% of schools partnered with at least one community arts partner
"The strength of CPS arts education has helped our students channel their creativity and hone their skills to become the next great creators and innovators," said CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson. "Ingenuity's findings confirm that we are moving in the right direction, and we will continue to seek opportunities to elevate arts education in schools throughout Chicago."
CPS, Ingenuity, and partners use the report to measure the progress of the arts plan, identify areas of improvement, and work with school leaders to expand arts programming. Findings are also used at the network and school level to encourage strategic choices when planning for the arts.
Data was reported through multiple sources, including individual schools and hundreds of community arts partners, all of which feed Ingenuity's artlook Map.
"In our fourth consecutive year of tracking student access to the arts in CPS, we see encouraging progress city-wide," said Paul Sznewajs, Executive Director of Ingenuity. "Six of ten schools are now considered Strong or Excelling in the arts—a significant increase from two years ago. There is still work to be done, but this meaningful progress reaffirms an underlying commitment by many CPS principals to the arts."
CPS' Arts Education Plan seeks to improve access to the arts in every school in two ways: designating the arts as a core subject similar to math, science and social studies; and establishing a requirement of two hours per week of arts instruction in every elementary school, made possible by extending the school day under Mayor Emanuel's tenure.