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BRIDGING THE GAP IN SCHOOL ACHIEVEMENT THROUGH THE ARTS; Summary Report

Key Message

Schools participating in The Song Room (TSR) programs (free, tailored, long-term music and arts-based programs for children in disadvantaged and high need communities to enhance their educational and developmental outcomes) outperform those that are not participating on most indicators selected for investigation on the basis of previous research. Those in the longer-term program tend to outperform those in the initial program.

Source

Vaughan, Tanya, Harris, Jessica. (2011). Bridging the Gap in School Achievement Through the Arts. Victoria, Australia: The Song Room.

Purpose

The purpose of the research was to demonstrate that demonstrating that arts education not only has intrinsic value, but when implemented with a structured, innovative and long-term approach, it can also provide essential extrinsic benefits, such as improved school attendance, academic achievement across the curriculum as well as social and emotional wellbeing.

The study was conducted in government schools in relatively disadvantaged communities in three regions in NSW. Three groups of schools were created to achieve a quasi-experimental design, with six schools offering TSR programs and a control group of four schools not offering The Song Room (TSR) programs (free, tailored, long-term music and arts-based programs for children in disadvantaged and high need communities to enhance their educational and developmental outcomes). The former were divided into two groups of three, with one offering the initial shorter program of six months and the other offering the longer program of 12 to 18 months. Students in Grades 5 and 6 were the subjects of study.The indicators of student performance selected for study were as follows, reflecting the background of research findings summarised above:
• Attendance, dropout, detention and suspension
• Results on school tests and national tests in National Assessment Plan – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)
• Social-Emotional Wellbeing (SEWB) as measured by the SEWB Survey designed and validated by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)

Evidence

Students that participated in The Song Room (TSR) showed significantly higher grades in their academic subjects (English, Mathematics, Science and Technology and Human Society) in comparison to those who had not participated in TSR (p=0.022)

The distribution of positive school indicators showed the highest percentage of students from the longer-term TSR cohort in the top levels of five and six, with an intermediate percentage for the initial TSR and the lowest for those students who had not participated in TSR indicating an influence of TSR on positive school indicators.

Increased length of time in TSR has an association with reduced depression in boys and that the longer-term TSR program is associated with a significantly reduced depression in girls (p=0.048).

Students that participated in TSR showed higher levels of overall Social and Emotional Wellbeing, with large differences observed in resilience and that the longer the duration of the TSR the larger the effect on SEWB.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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