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The Texas Cultural Trust Releases First Ever Statewide Data on Access to Arts Education in Texas Public Schools

by Texas Cultural Trust

“Research confirms that arts education can help improve overall academic performance,” said Jennifer Ransom Rice, Executive Director of the Texas Cultural Trust. “We wanted to better understand the availability of arts courses in our public schools, and provide that information to every Texan in a creative, dynamic, easy-to-use format. While there are great areas of promise, there are also many areas for improvement. The Art Can campaign invites parents and interested Texans to advocate for access to more arts education, which will help build a stronger, more creative, and prosperous Texas.”

The data presented on the site is pulled from Texas Education Agency reports, and includes demographic statistics about the districts, allowing comparisons between school districts, and breaking down information between elementary, middle, and high schools. In addition to reporting the raw data, however, the Trust has also provided analysis of the data, which shows what impact increased arts education can have on student performance. Key findings include:

  • Students in districts that met the state accountability standard had more than twice the unique arts courses to choose from, and earned up to 26 percent more arts credits than students in districts needing improvement
  • Secondary schools that met the state accountability standard offered 50 percent more unique arts courses on average than schools needing improvement
  • Middle and secondary schools in districts that met the state accountability standard offered more than twice as many unique arts courses on average than schools in districts needing improvement

“While district averages provide important information about the access for students generally in a district, the experience of an individual in a specific school might look very different,” said Dr. Brent Hasty, who lead the team conducting the research. “In a district where the variance (in the amount of arts classes, credits, or arts teachers) between campuses is great, that might mean the difference between having a great deal of access, and having almost no access to arts learning. We look forward to building on this base of knowledge to investigate arts-access at the individual campus level. This will show us where resources are rich – and where they may be lacking for the individual student. This examination demonstrates the access to the arts matters for young people and the success of their schools.”

“The arts generate $5.1 billion for our state’s economy,” said Judy Robison, Chair of the Texas Cultural Trust Board of Directors. “A prosperous Texas requires an educated, inspired, and innovative workforce, and the arts are an important way we can prepare students to succeed in tomorrow’s economy. At the Texas Cultural Trust, we envision a future where every child has access to an arts education that will help them on a path to success whether they choose to be a painter, musician – or a CEO.”

Art Can is a bilingual, multimedia campaign with a data-rich website, radio, television, and print advertising, grassroots outreach, and social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The campaign is funded by the Houston Endowment, and made possible in part through a partnership with the Texas Association of Broadcasters.

Parents and interested citizens can access data on the website, and take immediate action to reach out to their local school boards, which make decisions on arts funding, as well as contact their state lawmakers to highlight the importance of school funding overall.

Simply put, the arts can have a profound impact on elevating student success, which benefits all Texans. The Texas Cultural Trust is now providing parents the tools to educate themselves about access to arts education in in their children’s schools, and an opportunity to take action to increase that access for all Texas children.

The Trust is pleased to acknowledge initial support of the Art Can campaign from the following organizations:

  • Alley Theatre, Houston
  • Arts Access Initiative – Young Audiences of Houston
  • ATX Television Festival Foundation
  • Center for Educator Development in the Fine Arts
  • KCAM Contemporary Art Museum Fort Bend
  • Resources for Learning, LLC
  • Texans for the Arts
  • Texas Association of Business
  • Texas Commission on the Arts
  • Texas Music Educators Association
  • The Texas Art Education Association