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Schools: Include the Arts in Your Student Opportunity Act Plan

Diane Daily, Program Manager

Students holding up their puppets proudly
Students from the Healey School in Somerville with teaching artist/puppeteer Faye Dupras and their Cozy Corner Community puppets they made during their STARS Residency.


The Arts for All Coalition, a collective of nonprofit organizations and public agencies in Massachusetts, is drawing attention to the role arts can play in the Student Opportunity Act. This new state law offers new funding opportunities to improve education, especially in Gateway Cities across the Commonwealth. One of the primary goals is to reduce the “achievement gap” of students with learning and socio-economic challenges.

Schools must develop a three-year, evidence-based plan for the Commissioner’s review to address the achievement gap by April 1, 2020. Increased funding and staffing for the arts are among the 17 evidence-based strategies listed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in the Student Opportunity Plans—Guidance materials and plan template for superintendents (page 6).

The arts—dance, drama, media arts, music, and visual arts—are effective tools for increasing student motivation and enjoyment of school, improved attendance, and reduced disciplinary issues. Other correlated benefits include improved student learning outcomes, social-emotional growth, literacy, creativity, and 21st-century skills. See Implementing the Student Opportunity Act & the Arts for important evidence of the impact of arts in education.

Arts for All stands ready to assist schools and districts to understand and utilize this information, and we are happy to answer any questions. See MassCreative’s site for additional information and links to research studies regarding the evidence of the impact of arts education.

The Arts for All Coalition works to ensure all Massachusetts students have equitable access to and active participation in a robust arts education through the entire public education spectrum. Coalition members include Mass Cultural Council, Arts|Learning, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, MASSCreative and EdVestors.

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