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Oregon Arts Group Claims Achievement Boost

Arts education advocates say student test scores in reading, math, and language show a recent arts effort is making a difference.

The Right Brain Initiative started at schools where average reading and math scores had been going up about two, or two and a half points a year.

The halls of Quatama Elementary.

The halls of Quatama Elementary.

Rob Manning/OPB

Right Brain is now reporting its program drives reading scores up an average of seven points, and math, more than eight points in one year. Arts education director, Marna Stalcup, says the growth continues, in later years.

“As teachers persist with the implementation of arts-based instructional strategies, and arts experiences that teaching artists can bring into classrooms, that those kinds of experiences for children give them new ways in to content,” Stalcup says.

Stalcup says the arts program prioritizes collaboration and training of teachers, and hands-on projects for students.

Backers, like Stalcup, acknowledge that the improvements aren’t just due to the arts. Funding, school leadership, and changes to other programs influence student learning, too.