The CPS Arts Education Plan systematically improves, expands, and strategically coordinates arts education for all CPS students.

In 2012, the CPS Department of Arts Education, in partnership with Ingenuity and with the support of the Department of Cultural Affairs, or DCASE, presented the CPS Arts Education Plan, which profiles CPS’ six arts education priorities that form its sweeping vision and direction for making the arts part of every CPS student’s educational experience.


The goal of the first-ever CPS Arts Education Plan was to create a policy and programming blueprint for increasing access, equity and the quality of arts education provided to CPS students. Under the directive of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, DCASE began developing a new Cultural Plan for Chicago. After more than 30 community-based planning sessions, various stakeholders and residents throughout Chicago’s 50 wards indicated that arts education in our public schools was one of the top three priorities for the City. With that directive from Chicago’s residents and momentum from the Cultural Plan planning process, CPS dedicated itself to creating a comprehensive Arts Education Plan. The CPS Arts Education Plan was developed through more than 25 additional community engagement sessions with key stakeholders including principals, teachers, parents, students, arts and cultural organizations and the general public. The Plan abstract was unveiled alongside the Chicago Cultural Plan in November of 2012. By marrying the goals of both plans, the City of Chicago has created a forceful vision for improving education for all CPS students.

Why the Arts?

Chicago has a rich spectrum of well-developed arts education resources, and district leadership has embraced innovative ideas to improve schools here. The CPS Arts Education Plan reflects the district’s commitment to taking advantage of those resources to improve student experiences and outcomes.

We know that arts education strongly correlates to substantially better student engagement, academic performance, test scores, and college attendance, along with significantly decreased dropout rates and behavioral problems. And we know that the correlations are strongest for low-income students, whose need is the greatest. Even more, research consistently shows that the arts are about more than test scores. There is growing recognition that the arts contribute to essential 21st century skills like innovation, creativity, and critical thinking. These benefits are more pronounced in high-poverty, low-performing schools.

There are many more examples and more research that supports similar, positive outcomes for youth involved in the arts. Visit to learn more about the educational outcomes of arts learning in and out of school time.

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