Arts and Theater Programs have been getting cut out of schools for more than a decade, especially following the most recent recession. But why? And how does this affect our students futures?
First the facts; by 2010 only 3 percent of U.S. schools still offered artistic classes at all. If this data doesn’t seem drastic enough, when taking into consideration the cut of visual arts programs in U.S. schools in the early 2000s (87 percent) and in 2010 after the great recession (83 percent) it doesn’t seem like there would be much left to cut! The worst part is how important these programs really are for the learning development of our students.
According to the Washington Post, low-income students who had a rich art experience were about 3 times more likely to get a B.A. than those who had no art experience at all. It has also been proven that art is a form of inspiration and expression that helps at-risk students improve their outlook on education. Art programs help students test better overall. According to a College Board study, students who had taken art classes for all 4 years of high school have scored 91 points better on the SAT than those who took a half year or less of art classes.
According to the American Alliance for Theater and Education, theater programs can also help students in both reading comprehension and self-esteem among other aspects of their lives. Studies have shown that theater programs help adolescents develop better verbal skills and better recall and understanding of written material. Studies also show that performing Shakespeare texts is followed by improvement in understanding scientific and mathematical materials. In 2005, students who were involved in a theater program outscored the national average by 35 points on the verbal portion and 24 points on the math portion of the SAT (American Alliance for Theater and Education).
Not surprisingly, students’ self-esteem is also improved by being involved in theater. High school students who perform on-stage and are highly involved in theater have a better self-concept and communication skills than those who are not. It’s a no-brainer that a student that feels more confident personally can perform better in school.
So make sure to be an advocate for keeping Theater programs in schools, they really do make a difference!