Poor, minority students receive lesser quality arts education, study finds

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Arts Commission released findings last week from an 18-month survey of arts education in K-12 public schools. 

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The Arts Ed Profile was administered to all 2,277 schools across LA County, including 81 districts, four charter school networks as well as a few individual charter schools. 

It represents data from the 2015-17 academic years and identifies the breadth and distribution of arts education in Los Angeles County. 

In addition to the report, the LACAC has created an online Arts Ed Profile tool, which allows users to explore the data in for themselves. Some of the report’s key findings include:

Arts instruction is offered in nearly every school in LA County and most schools offer two or more disciplines, but very few schools in the county offer year-long arts instruction to all students.

Equity continues to be a challenge in arts education. English learners, students on free and reduced-price meals (a proxy for low income) and students of color tend to receive less arts instruction and at a lower quality than their counterparts—especially in elementary grades.

In general, the quantity of arts instruction is higher in elementary grades (PreK-8), while the quality of instruction is higher in secondary grades (9-12).

Grades 7-8 are the peak years for arts instruction. During those years, instruction in all artistic disciplines is offered at nearly every school.

Teaching artists and arts nonprofits play a critical role in arts education, providing instruction in more than half of all public schools in LA County.

The findings from this report were released as part of the Arts Now: LA County Arts Education Summit at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown Los Angeles.