Every Student Succeeds Act Set To Integrate the Arts into STEM Education
Arts education advocates have a lot to celebrate about 2015 – a year that proved to be an important milestone for their cause. Major steps were taken to preserve arts subjects within the new education reform bill, culminating in President Obama signing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which places a major focus on integrating the arts into STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) – creating STEAM.
According to the Americans for the Arts Action Fund, “This new law holds great promise for restoring arts education as central to the school day and in the lives of students and our nation’s future workforce.”
But what exactly does this mean?
Public schools can expect to see changes in curriculum, specifically around retaining the arts as a core academic subject. It has been proven that students who have exposure to the arts have better attendance, SAT and ACT college exam scores, and high school and college graduation rates. However, in the past, applied arts have been underrepresented in STEM subjects even though research has established these positive connections.
Though the arts have historically been something of a postscript to more science-based curriculums, this new bill might be the turning point, broadening students’ horizons and widening their skill sets.
“I think art subjects have been an afterthought by some because much of its value via research is qualitative vs. quantitative,” says Jackie Cornelius, the principal of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (DA).
In the global race for high educational outcomes, we tend to gravitate toward subjects for which we can standardize the metrics for success. This need to objectively measure academic achievements turns a blind eye to arts subjects that might actually engage students more fully and emotionally.
“STEAM education is critical if we are to maintain our nation’s creative edge in the workforce,” Cornelius says. Citing famous entrepreneurs like Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates as prime examples, Cornelius also explains that “The opportunities for invention, innovation, and creative problem-solving has never been greater in the U.S., and the arts naturally provide students the foundation for innovative risk taking.”
By Kate Jolley