May Improve Students' Grades__________________
Carl Hartman, Associated Press Writer
(AP) -- If your teen-agers want to be in the high school band
or performing arts club, let them. It may improve their
school students who take music lessons and join theater
groups do better in math, reading, history, geography and
citizenship, according to a study of Education Department
data to be published today.
young Americans are to succeed and to contribute to what
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan describes as our
'economy of ideas,' they will need an education that develops
imaginative, flexible and tough-minded thinking,"
Education Secretary Richard Riley said in a message
accompanying the study. "The arts powerfully nurture the
to think in this
study, which tracked more than 25,000 students for more than
10 years, found that students who reported consistently high
levels of involvement with instrumental music scored
significantly higher on math tests by the 12th grade.
observation held true for students regardless of their
parents' income, occupations and levels of education, said
James S. Catterall, the lead author and an education
professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
38.6 percent of higher-income students who were uninvolved in
music scored high in math, 48 percent of those highly
interested in music received the high marks.
who are more advantaged tend to be more involved in the arts.
Period. They have more opportunities and you'd expect them to
do better," Catterall said in an interview.
the influence of music was far more pronounced among
the lower-income students without music involvement, only
15.5 percent achieved high math scores. But of the musically
oriented group, more than twice as many excelled in math.
not a matter of economic advantage. It's a matter of
something happening with the arts for the kids,"
study also found that as students progress through high
school they are less likely to be involved in the arts.
a clear trend," Catterall said. "Kids participation
in the arts declines. It may be that high schools offer fewer
programs than middle schools or that kids are more concerned
with academics or admissions to college."
than 3 percent of seniors take out-of-school classes in
music, art or dance, compared with more than 11 percent of
than half of the "high-involvement" seniors are
found in top levels on standardized tests, compared with
fewer than 43 percent of the "low-involvement"
study also indicated arts study affected students' racial
at grade 10 were asked if it was OK to make a racist
remark," the authors wrote. "About 40 percent
'no-drama' students felt that making such a remark would be
OK, where only about 12 percent of high theater students
thought the same."
the 12th graders involved in plays were compared to their
uninvolved counterparts, 20 percent more of those active in
drama had excellent reading skills.
noted that the work supports strong suggestions, but is not
study was one of seven included in "Champions of Change
-- The Impact of the Arts on Learning," by Edward B.
Fiske, former education editor of The New York Times. The
project was sponsored by the GE (General Electric) Fund and
the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the
Arts Education Partnership, 1999.