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Study Shows Arts Education Helps Learning Process

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A newly released study shows Maryland students who study the arts do better in other academic subjects.

Tim Williams has more on how creative expression may help the learning process.

It is a way to teach the same lesson to the same students but with a different approach each time--using the arts to bridge the understanding gap between academic subjects. 

"I, in my regular classroom, would integrate science into my art classroom.  I would integrate social studies, math, English into my regular classroom," said Highlandtown Elementary art teacher Chad Shoales.

A new study by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities states art education is an effective tool for school reform, even as funding for the medium has dwindled.  At Highlandtown Elementary, the principal agrees the method works.

"I think if students have a tendency to be able to be creative through music and dance and visual arts and things of that nature, then they have an opportunity to greater grasp concepts they are responsible for demonstrating on standardized tests," said Principal Nancy Fagan.

The "Reinvesting in Arts Education" study examined recent data from Maryland schools and others.  It finds integrating the arts with other subjects is particularly helpful in raising certain achievement levels.  The nonprofit group "Arts Every Day" works to fund such programs in Baltimore City public schools.

"Great to see the administration is standing behind something that I think a lot of arts educators believe from the beginning and it feels good to be validated at this time," said Arts Every Day director Kathy Beachler.

The report shows how visual arts instruction improves reading and learning to play an instrument improves math.  Now, as long as the budget deficits don't eliminate the arts completely, students will continue to benefit.

"Kids won't know that it's the same lesson, but they'll learn more knowledge," Shoales said.

Schools in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Chicago and New York were also examined in the study.

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