Thursday, May 26, 2016

Four new schools added to Turnaround Arts: Minnesota

Perpich Center for Arts Education has chosen four new schools to participate in Turnaround Arts: Minnesota, a national initiative designed to narrow the achievement gap and improve student engagement through the arts.

 
The new schools are:
Cityview Elementary School, Minneapolis
I.J. Holton Intermediate School, Austin
Riverside Central Elementary School, Rochester
Stonebridge World School, Minneapolis
They join Bethune Elementary School, Minneapolis; Northport Elementary, Brooklyn Center, Robbinsdale School District; Northside Elementary, St. James; and Red Lake Middle School, Red Lake. The original schools began the Minnesota program in 2014.
“We look forward to working with the dedicated leaders and teachers of these new schools and we are so proud at how well our current schools are doing,” said Sue Mackert, executive director of Perpich. “Perpich has a strong tradition of collaborating with schools and communities across Minnesota to use arts education as a tool for addressing the systemic issues affecting achievement.”  
Spearheaded by Perpich Center, the Minnesota program is one of 20 locations from across the nation selected by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, the National Endowment for the Arts and several private foundations.
Selection criteria for new schools include demonstrated need and opportunity, strong school leadership and a commitment to arts education. Turnaround Arts schools represent a diversity of student demographics in urban, suburban and rural settings. The new schools will join with the current schools in July with a summer leadership retreat.
Schools in the program receive intensive arts education resources and expertise and the schools’ communities will be involved in strategic planning processes with guidance from Perpich, a state agency serving all schools, students and educators in Minnesota. Perpich provides leadership support and sustainable professional development for the schools’ teachers, especially in integrating the arts into the school curriculum and boosting existing arts programs.
The schools receive arts education training and resources to address their individual needs as well as access to community arts and cultural organizations and a national network of school leaders and teachers.
With just two years in Turnaround Arts: Minnesota, participating schools are seeing increases in test scores, increased parent involvement, much less teacher turnover and significant drops in suspensions, bullying and behavior referrals. While the schools are using many different methods for reaching these exemplary goals, they say that infusing the arts into their schools has made a critical difference in their schools’ cultures.
On Wednesday, May 25, at the White House Turnaround Arts Talent Show, at which 15 Minnesota students from Turnaround Arts schools performed, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a shout-out to one of the Minnesota schools in her opening remarks:
“Just take the example of Northport Elementary School in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota,” Mrs. Obama said. “Back in 2013, less than half of their students had proficient scores on state reading, math, and science tests, and morale was very low. 
“But then they became a Turnaround Arts school, and they started including the arts in every part of the curriculum. The music teacher helped students break down rap lyrics in English class . . . They hired full-time staff members to teach drama and dance. And businesses like Target and Home Depot donated materials so that over 150 students, staff and community members could paint murals and plant flowers on the school grounds.  
“And within two years, their test scores improved,” the First Lady continued. “They went from almost 200 student suspensions per year to 41, and Northport was actually removed from the state’s list of schools that are the furthest behind.  As Principal Leona Derden, who is here with us today . . . said, ‘The arts made the difference in the lives of our students.’  And we’re so proud of you and all of the other principals and administrators who are here.“
Not one of the schools had ever mounted a musical theater production before Turnaround Arts, but all four have done a musical or will be doing one this year. Each school got $8,000 worth of musical instruments from the National Association of Music Merchants and boxes of Crayola art materials. They are able to put on musicals such as “Annie” and Lion King” because Musical Theater International provides Turnaround schools with “Junior Musical” kits. 
Locally, Triarco Arts and Crafts has ben a major partner with Perpich in supporting the program. 
For the original four schools in the Minnesota program the President’s Committee appointed songwriter Clarence Greenwood (aka Citizen Cope), actor/rapper Doc Shaw and actor Sarah Jessica Parker who have “adopted” those schools, visiting them and working with students on play productions, musical performances, and, in some cases, donating equipment and supporting summer camp experiences. 
Turnaround Arts started in 2012 as a pilot program in eight schools to test the findings of a 2011 President's Committee report titled “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.” 
Research conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton and the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute on the pilot program revealed an average 12.6% improvement in reading proficiency and 22.5% improvement in math proficiency—more than similar schools not using the arts—as well as increases in attendance and significant decreases in suspensions following Turnaround Arts' infusion of the arts into struggling schools.
Arts education has been shown through numerous studies to be an important part of education as a whole and able to give students tools for success. Decades of research show that arts-engaged students perform better than their peers. 
For example, recent studies show that students that participate regularly in the arts: 
• Are more self-confident and better able to express their ideas;
• Have higher attendance and high school graduation rates; and
• Are more likely to go on to a four-year university and graduate 
Arts education can also benefit overall school culture and climate, especially when it is integrated into the school, giving teachers new tools, increasing collaboration, creating an atmosphere of creativity and inspiration and engaging parents and the community.
However federal data shows that students who need arts education the most are getting it the least. While affluent public schools have high rates of arts education, high-poverty schools often have almost none. There are over 5 million students in public elementary schools in this country without either a music or an arts class in their school. Almost all are high-poverty. 
 

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