Key Facts: Did You Know

The Facts[1]

During Adolescence

  • Each additional year of arts study was significantly associated with a 20% reduction in the likelihood that an adolescent would ever be suspended out-of-school.
  • As adolescents, students of the arts are significantly more optimistic about their chances to attend college than non-arts students.
  • Visual arts students reported significantly higher levels of school attachment than did non-visual arts students.

As Adults

  • Former arts students were 55.38% more likely to have attended postsecondary school by adulthood than were former non-arts students. Each additional year of arts study was associated with an 18% increase in the likelihood of having attended postsecondary schooling.
  • Former students of the arts were 29% more likely than former non-arts students to have earned a four-year college degree by age 24-32. Each additional year of arts coursework was associated with a 12% increase in the likelihood that adolescents would eventually earn a four-year college degree.
  • Former students of the arts were significantly more optimistic as adults.
  • Former arts students were significantly less likely to be involved with the criminal justice system than were former non-arts students. Adults who had taken arts coursework were 26% less likely than those without high school arts coursework to have ever been arrested. Each additional year of arts coursework was associated with a 9% reduction in the risk of being arrested.

Key Takeaways

  1. Adolescent arts students achieve significantly more positive developmental outcomes than their peers who do not pursue arts coursework in schools.
  2. By and large, arts students do appear to experience positive developmental benefits from their arts study that extend beyond adolescence into adulthood.
  3. Arts students, when compared to their non-arts peers, were so much more optimistic about attending college as adolescents, and that this optimism led to significantly increased likelihood to attend postsecondary school and earn a four-year degree is a powerful statement.
  4. Overall, arts students had a significantly higher level of college optimism than did their non-arts student counterparts. The questions were:
    • How much do you want to go to college?
    • How likely is it that you will go to college?
    • What do you think are the chances that you will graduate from college?
  5. The overall relationship between arts and school attachment by arts students scored high. The heightened levels of school attachment are attributed, by many, to the positive mentoring relationships established between teachers and their students. Research has shown that teacher-student relationships that take on this mentoring characteristic are positively associated with levels of school engagement and achievement.
  6. Arts students may be more engaged in school than non-arts students, which may explain a reduction in the risk of out-of-school suspension by arts students. Arts students may commit fewer school rule infractions that are subject to suspension as a punishment, with the theory behind that hypothesis being that greater engagement in school reduces the likelihood that students would risk being suspended. Other research has suggested that thriving arts programs make schools more engaging places to be.

[1]Arts Education and Positive Youth Development: Cognitive, Behavioral, and Social Outcomes of Adolescents Who Study the Arts,” written by Kenneth Elpus.