By Jeff Ursino, Trustee, Pajaro Valley Unified School District Area VII
For the first time in over 10 years Aptos High’s homecoming football game was accompanied by a band from Aptos High with support from several of our local middle schools. Due to efforts by school site officials, increased funding at the District level, and a renewed acknowledgment of the importance of the arts in education, students and attendees alike were able to enjoy the event with a band formed from our local students.
Besides the fanfare and fun that a band brings to any event, there have been a wide variety of studies through the years that show just how important the arts are to students and how they help to enhance the educational experience of these children at school.
The Arts and Academic Achievement
For instance, one recent study indicates that students who participate in the arts at school are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement then their counterparts who do not participate in the arts. A second study even suggested that students who participate in the arts score higher in mathematics, English and social studies. This same study claims that increased academic achievement for music students is even more startling. These students see scores as high as 15 points higher than other students in Math and 20 points higher in English than others.
The Arts and Social Connections
Besides student’s academic achievement, it has also been shown that individuals who participate in the arts have stronger social connections at school and lower absenteeism. As common sense would seem to indicate, students who attend school on a regular basis tend to have higher grade point averages and are more apt to attend college.
The Arts and Absenteeism
Students who have strong social connections and who are busier at school are more apt to regularly attend school than others who do not have these social connections. This improvement not only helps to build a more successful academic career for the students, but it also helps them to feel more connected to the school and thus be less likely to be absent.
The increase in academic achievement and decrease in absenteeism that the arts foster helps to build a more academically focused culture at the school site. If the culture of the school dictates that students who attend and strive for academic success are more in alignment with the culture. This culture will then help drive all students to that ideal, not just the students participating in the arts. That is the power of a strong school culture focused on educational achievement.
As the district works on increasing educational achievement at our local schools, encouraging students to participate in art education is one of the ways we can drive this achievement.
The Arts and the Total Student
Beyond the educational advantages that participants may receive due to participation in the arts, I believe the biggest positive for these students is the education of what is called the total student. Students who are doing well academically, socially and feel connected to both the community at school and the community at large will be more apt to move on and succeed in college and beyond.
In the end as an educational institution, PVUSD is working towards building the “total student” who is well rounded in a variety of disciplines and will have the greatest chance of success in their lives. By re-introducing the arts through the band at Aptos High, the district is doing just that.
To contact Jeff, his email is Jeffrey_Ursino@pvusd.net