New Report From Newark Public Schools District Tracks Implementation of Arts Instruction, Programming for Students

NEWARK, NJ — Expanding and supporting arts education in Newark Public Schools will be a key focus as part of the district's strategic plan over the next decade.

District officials this week released the Newark Public Schools Arts Education Landscape Baseline Report 2019-2020, which was developed in response to a one-year strategic plan issued last year that established the foundation for "The Next Decade: 2020-30 Strategic Plan," which focuses on expanding learning opportunities for students. The report was produced by the district's Office of Visual and Performing Arts under its director Margaret El. 

“The arts are an integral part of the fabric of Newark and essential to stimulating innovation, creativity, and critical thinking, and our students are so talented," said Newark Public Schools District Superintendent Roger León. "This unprecedented report marks our commitment to high-quality sequential arts instruction for every child, and for the first time, provides a baseline by which we can track progress moving forward. I commend the Office of Visual and Performing Arts for undertaking this major project in response to NPS Clarity 2020, and creating a 10-year roadmap aligned with The Next Decade to ensure our students have equitable access to all the arts — dance, music, theatre, and visual arts.”

The report examines district-wide data from the 2019-20 school year in five areas impacting quality arts education. These areas include: Student Access and Participation; Capacity Building; Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment; Partnership and Collaboration; and Infrastructure and Sustaining the Arts. Each of the five areas includes an equity statement, a goal, findings, benchmarks, and 10-year action items through 2030, according to district officials.

The report also provides information on the state of pre-K-12 arts education across the district during the 2019-20 school year.  Findings from the report, including strengths, weaknesses, challenges, opportunities, and trends, were used to develop arts education goals and benchmarks for the next decade, according to district officials.

Arts education, officials said, is a core content area for the district. The district employed 216 certified arts educators during the 2019-20 school year, and 92% of schools offered both music and visual arts. Additionally, 45% of schools offered dance, and 11% of schools offered theater. Under COVID-19, the district also increased the number of full-time certified arts educators to 224 for the 2021-22 school year.

By expanding arts programs, district officials said in the report that having a robust arts program could lead to overall better academic success for students both inside and outside the classroom.

Outside Newark, a report from Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research Center in Houston found that a substantial increase in arts educational experiences influences students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes.

"Students who received more arts education experiences are more interested in how other people feel and more likely to want to help people who are treated badly," the report said. "In terms of school engagement, students in the treatment group were more likely to agree that schoolwork is enjoyable, makes them think about things in new ways, and that their school offers programs, classes, and activities that keep them interested in school." 

Upon release of the district's baseline report, Newark Board of Education President Dawn Haynes said she supported its implementation of the arts plan."

"The report is thorough in its examination of district-wide arts education," said Haynes. "While it shines a light on the excellence within the district, it is clear vast resources and support are still needed to achieve arts for all."

El, director of the Visual and Performing Arts, said a well-rounded and rigorous education includes the arts as an essential core academic subject. 

"Our vision is that through this process, we will chart a clear and equitable path to ensure all Newark students are engaged in quality, sequential arts education in multiple disciplines; our teachers are fully supported in their practice; and the arts community’s vast resources, relationships, and partnerships are leveraged for the benefit of our young people," said El. "This report highlights the excellence that we see each and every day in our arts classrooms and schools, identifies areas of need and provides a roadmap for the next 10 years to achieve our mission to inspire every Newark Public School student to discover and achieve their highest creative potential."

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-11-11 01:57:14 -0800