FAQ for Parents
Is arts education required in elementary and/or high school? How much?
In the fall of 2012, CPS made the arts a core subject, and through the CPS Arts Education Plan indicates a minimum of 120 minutes (2 hours) per week of arts education be offered to elementary school students. High school graduation requirements now include 2 credit hours in the arts.
What types of arts disciplines are taught in the Chicago Public Schools?
The Illinois State Board of Education recognizes six arts disciplines, all of which can be offered in the Chicago Public Schools system: visual arts, music, dance, theatre, media arts and literary arts. The majority of arts instruction by CPS certified arts instructors is in visual arts or music.
What does it mean for my school to have a certified arts teacher? Is that an asset for my child and our school?
Yes! It means that your child has a teacher focused on teaching the arts to your child during their regular school day. A certified arts instructor is often times an experienced artist who also teaches students in areas such as music, theater, dance, and the visual arts–including painting/drawing, photography, ceramics, computer animation and graphic design, or even film making. Arts instructors in the Chicago Public Schools system have a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate.
What does it mean for my school to have a community arts partner? Is that an asset for my child and our school?
Yes! Having an arts partner is another great asset to your child’s learning experience. The arts partner enhances the instruction provided by the school’s certified arts instructor through experiences such as workshops, residencies, and performances. Arts partners include organizations such as Chicago Dramatists or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. There are both large and small organizations that provide innovative programs before, during, and after school in partnership with the school’s art instructor.
There are more than 500 arts and cultural organizations and individuals that work within the Chicago Public Schools system each year. For a listing of the current partners, visit our artlook Map.
Does the presence of a certified arts instructor or arts partner make a difference in overall school performance or the academic performance of young people?
Although there are many factors that go into a school’s overall academic performance, studies have linked arts education with both academic gains for students in addition to many other positive behaviors such as self-control, motivation and working well with others. Data from the 2009 publication of the book Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art by James S. Catterall indicates the following:
- When compared with students who lack arts instruction, high school students with multiple years of arts classes outperform their peers in both the verbal and math portion of the SAT.
- Intensive involvement in the arts during middle and high school years correlates with higher levels of achievement and college attainment.
- Students who report consistently high levels of involvement in instrumental music show significantly higher levels of mathematics proficiency.
- Student involvement in the theater arts such as plays, drama clubs and action lessons provides gains in reading proficiency, gains in self-concept and motivation and empathy for others.
- Arts participation also increases pro-social behavior such as voluntarism and political participation.
There are many more examples and more research that supports similar, positive outcomes for youth involved in the arts. Visit our Advocacy pages for more information.
What types of programs could my child potentially participate in?
There are hundreds of schools within CPS that have students engaged in arts learning in the visual arts, music, dance, theatre, media arts and literary arts. Opportunities range from year-round art classes, to incorporating arts into subjects such as reading and science, to field trips to leading cultural institutions across Chicago and performances offered at schools or at off-site locations.
How can I learn more about the types of arts programs my child’s school is offering?
You can visit artlook Map and search your school to see whether a certified arts instructor and/or arts organization(s) currently offers arts programming at your school. You can also talk to your school principal, assistant principal or classroom teacher to learn more. Also, by getting more involved in your Local School Council, you can hear first-hand what opportunities exist or the community’s interest in exploring new arts programming initiatives.
How can I become more involved in advocating for arts education?
There are a variety of ways as a parent you can advocate for more arts programming at your school and/or throughout the district. Following are several examples to guide you:
- Use our tool kit to talk to your principal and teachers about your interest in seeing more arts opportunities in your school.
- Make arts education an agenda item at your local school council meetings.
- Ensure that student art is a permanent part of the school. Gauges of this include: a certified arts instructor on staff, arts integration programs with core classes, fine arts experiences (choir, theatre programs, etc.), before/after school arts programs, student exhibits, field trips and guest performances.
- Share your passion and knowledge about the arts with other parents, neighbors, family members.
- Visit artlook map and learn what is currently available at your school and what opportunities exist for growth.
- Volunteer to share an artistic skill, such as talking about graphic design or photography.
- Offer to help write grant proposals or seek partners for district arts education materials.
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