The arts are fundamental to preparing students for success in college, career, and life, and through its ESSA arts indicator, Illinois is on the verge of taking a historic step toward quality arts learning for all students.
WHAT IS ESSA?
Enacted in 2015, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced No Child Left Behind and gives states more flexibility in how they design their system of school accountability and support. Under ESSA, states can look beyond just test scores and consider more holistic indicators of school quality and student success.
WHAT IS ILLINOIS’ ESSA PLAN?
The Illinois State Plan for implementing ESSA established a new system to understand the performance and needs of schools. Under this new accountability system, schools receive points based on weighted indicators. Examples include math and science proficiency, climate surveys, and chronic absenteeism.
WHAT IS THE ARTS INDICATOR?
Illinois’ new accountability system also includes the arts as an indicator of school quality and student success. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) approved the indicator in 2017, making Illinois one of just two states with a distinct arts indicator and the only state applying it to elementary and high schools.
HOW IS IT MEASURED AND WEIGHTED?
Arts Alliance Illinois and Ingenuity co-chaired the statewide Arts Indicator Work Group, which consisted of arts education organizations, teachers, administrators, and other key stakeholders. The work group recommended that the indicator equal 5% of every school’s score, and through a year of deliberations, developed a data-informed, innovative measure that considers student participation in arts courses (3%) and quality of instruction (2%). It also recommended that ISBE explore development of a student voice survey.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
On March 18, 2020, the State Board approved the arts indicator weight and measure recommended by the work group, following endorsement from State Superintendent Carmen Ayala. The arts indicator will take effect starting with the 2022-23 School Year, giving time for ISBE to study the data and schools to prepare.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
With the arts indicator, Illinois has taken a historic step. The indicator affirms the arts as essential to student success and will incentivize schools to provide high-quality arts learning. It will also open the door to new support for arts education and lead to a greater data-based understanding of arts education in Illinois.