Current Trends and News in Arts Education


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Federal News Affecting Arts Education

Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)

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On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama put pen to paper and signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law—replacing the controversial No Child Left Behind Act that President George W. Bush had signed into law in January of 2002.  With the President’s action of signing the bill into law, the nation’s educational law—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—has been reauthorized.

The U.S. Department of Education notes ESSA will maintain Student Performance Targets and School Ratings but these will shift from “unrealistic” federal government standards based on testing alone to state-driven standards measured through multiple methods (determined by each state).  The law has a focus on college and career-readiness by teaching with high academic standards for all students, moving away from a one-size-fits-all federal mandate and toward a state-driven system that “promotes local innovation and invests in what works” (U.S. Department of Education).

There are several important changes in the new law that affect arts education in our nation.  Replacing the terminology, “Core Academic Subjects,” is the phrase “Well-rounded Education.”  The arts are specifically defined as part of a well-rounded education in the new law, which is a major win for arts education.  Title I federal funds are now available for the arts, and, more specifically, the law introduces a new program—Assistance for Arts Education—a grant program with dedicated funding to promote arts education for disadvantaged students.  One surprising twist, after years of advocating to include the ‘A’ (the Arts) in ‘STEM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), the law now includes support for schools providing a well-rounded education through STEAM programs.  This is a huge turning point for STEAM and Arts Integration.  Collectively, the new Every Student Succeeds Act has the potential to lead the nation into a new era of educational reform, student engagement and student learning through access for all students, no matter what their circumstance.


For a detailed look at what’s in the new law for Arts Education check out ‘”Waiving” Goodbye to No Child Left Behind’ at Americans for the Arts.



New from Americans for the Arts…


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