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PR- 252-07
July 23, 2007


ArtsCount to Create Accountability for Schools to Provide a Quality Arts Education

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools  Chancellor Joel I. Klein today unveiled ArtsCount, a new set of strategies to enhance arts education in New York City schools through accountability and quality improvement initiatives. ArtsCount builds upon the Blueprint for the Arts, implemented in 2004 and 2005, which established common benchmarks and curriculum goals for each arts discipline. ArtsCount incorporates arts metrics into the Administration's measurement of school performance, establishing first-ever accountability for arts programming and signaling the importance of art to a student's overall education. The Mayor and Chancellor were joined at Stuyvesant High School's Summer Arts Institute by First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris; Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis Walcott; Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin; Executive Director of the Children's Museum of Manhattan Andrew Ackerman; Principal Barbara Sanders of I.S. 383 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and members of the newly-formed Arts Education Task Force. The Mayor and Chancellor also announced the creation of the Arts Education Task Force, which includes leaders from the City's cultural community, and whose purpose is to help guide the City as it works to improve arts education for all students.

"An excellent arts education is essential to the creative and intellectual development of our students," said Mayor Bloomberg. "ArtsCount ensures that all New York City students can take advantage of the City's unparalleled cultural resources while participating in an arts program that enriches their lives. Our students live in one of the world's best arts cities and they deserve nothing less than a world-class arts education."

"We demand results in math and English and now we are demanding the same in the arts as well," said Chancellor Klein. "We have already set clear standards for what students should know and be able to accomplish in the arts, but we still have work ahead to ensure that all schools and students meet those standards. With ArtsCount we are taking arts education to a new level and holding schools accountable for providing all students with the arts instruction they need and deserve."

Beginning in September 2007, the City will establish new measures to hold schools accountable for providing rigorous arts instruction to all students. These new accountabilities will include the following:

  • Parent, Student, and Teacher Learning Environment Surveys. This fall, results will be released from the City's new Learning Environment Surveys, which addressed arts participation and satisfaction with arts programs at City schools. This survey data will factor into schools' Progress Report grades.

  • Quality Reviews. Beginning next fall, annual Quality Reviews will add arts education as an evaluation criterion for all City schools.

  • Annual Compliance Review. Compliance with State requirements will be included in principals' annual performance evaluations.

  • Focus on Outcomes. This year, the Department of Education worked with the cultural community to create comprehensive exit exams in music, drama, and dance. The 2007-08 school year is the first in which these exams will be available to all high school seniors. Students who pass these or the existing visual arts exit exams, which are aligned with State standards, will graduate with Arts-Endorsed Regents Honors Diplomas, a type of Advanced Regents Diploma. Increasing the number of students who earn Advanced Regents Diplomas helps schools to improve their annual Progress Report grades.

  • The Annual Arts in Schools Report. This new report will collect and synthesize data on arts participation, spending, staffing, and instructional programming to provide a comprehensive view of arts education in City schools. The report is being developed in consultation with the arts community and will be published every January. It will include reports for individual schools and aggregate data for the school system as a whole.

The Annual Arts in Schools Report and other accountability tools will help the Department of Education to identify underserved schools requiring additional, targeted support to improve arts instruction. Details about the new accountability measures are available in ArtsCount: A Guide for Principals, a newly-published reference manual to support school leaders as they implement high-quality arts programs. The Guide includes practical information regarding New York State instructional requirements for the arts and links principals to supports and resources to improve arts instruction at their schools.

The Department of Education's Office of Arts and Special Projects will provide essential services to support schools in meeting these new accountability standards. Principals and arts instructors will have access to new professional development resources to ensure that their arts programs meet or exceed New York State requirements. The Department also will create resources for schools to share best practices in developing effective arts programs. Arts education data will be assessed on a continuous basis to inform system-wide arts education policy, analyze trends in arts instruction across the City, and direct timely, targeted interventions when schools fail to provide adequate arts programs for their students.

"Our middle school offers a rich and diverse arts program because we know that arts education builds confidence, competence, and community," said Principal Sanders. "Students need to be inspired by culture and encouraged to pursue their talents. For many students, arts programs are what they look forward to most when they leave for school each morning. Our school's experience demonstrates that arts education has a positive impact on adolescent development and provides a benchmark for every student to excel. I am gratified that the Mayor and Chancellor are committed to ensuring that all students benefit from a strong arts program."

The Mayor and Chancellor also announced the formation of a new Arts Education Task Force whose purpose is to help guide the Department of Education as it works to improve arts education for all students. Members of cultural and arts organizations will be key players in ArtsCount, building on decades of productive collaboration to improve arts instruction in public schools. They will advise the Department in developing assessment tools and measures to collect information about students' experiences in music, theatre, dance, and visual arts classes. The Department will conduct quarterly surveys of task force members to gather regular feedback based on their work in City schools. The task force will also provide guidance on developing a common frame of reference for "quality arts education" to help the City continue setting high standards for arts instruction.

"The Arts Education Task Force will work closely with the DOE to develop a disciplined approach to ensure the quality of arts education-from the art that children experience in our museums and concert halls to the process of creating and thinking about art in the classroom with arts teachers and artists," said Andrew Ackerman. "We will also advise the department to make sure arts resources reach every child. This is a challenge that we take on with passion for the arts and for the children of New York City, and we are dedicated to helping the Mayor and Chancellor meet their objectives."


Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

David Cantor   (Department of Education)
(212) 341-5141

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