Scripp, L., Burnaford, G. Vazquez, O. Paradis, L. & Sienkiewicz, F. (2013). Partnerships in arts Integration Research final reports.
The Partnerships for Arts Integration Research (PAIR) final report summarizes results from a four-year, federal Department of Education Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) project administered by the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) and the Chicago Public Schools from 2007-2010. This project brought together three ‘pairings’ of magnet schools (three fine-arts cluster schools paired with a world languages cluster school, a math and science cluster school, and a literature and writing cluster) to work with teaching artists in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classrooms. Student arts learning and academic performance results from the six treatment schools compared favorably with six control schools of similar status, resources, student population, demographic factors, and comparable levels of academic achievement prior to the start of the PAIR project. Researchers also determined that a chain of causal links existed among PAIR teacher professional development outcomes, student arts integration, and student academic learning outcomes.
Findings from the PAIR report showed how treatment school teachers excelled at arts integration curriculum design, the ability to articulate arts integration program goals and outcomes, effective collaboration with teaching artists, and the documentation and organization of student work portfolios. Control-treatment outcome comparisons reveal that students at schools with an arts focus combined with arts integration programming scored higher than other types of student cohorts (non arts schools, conventional arts, and academic magnet schools) on both state academic achievement scores and arts integration learning measures. Furthermore, after three years in the project, the achievement gap among the previously determined low, average, and high rated students had narrowed or disappeared in the treatment schools in contrast with control schools. Because relationships among these variables were explored through multivariate analysis, researchers were able also to identify specific professional development factors that led to both student academic success and evidence of growing equity among the student treatment school cohorts.
Significance of the Findings:
For school communities not yet dedicated to arts education practices, PAIR arts integration methods and practices provide a potent strategy for improving school academic improvement and equity simultaneously. For school communities already committed to providing arts integration practice, the alternative methods and tools developed in the PAIR project demonstrate how to qualitatively and quantitatively assess the impact of individual teacher arts integration professional development variables on individual student arts integration and academic learning outcomes.
Throughout three years of project implementation, PAIR researchers collected and analyzed data drawn from randomized classroom cohorts that resulted in seven different types of teacher professional development (PD) variables and four different measures of student learning. Control-Treatment School data comparisons were based on annual teacher and student survey data focused on classroom practices, student interviews about learning processes in both the arts and academics, and standardized math and reading academic test scores. Results form these comparisons determined statistically significant differences among arts integration practices and student learning developed during the three years of project implementation.
PAIR Treatment School variables were developed to rate individual teacher and student learning outcomes in order to measure the degree and pattern of correlation among these variables over time. PAIR treatment teacher data sources included annual surveys and reflections on PD sessions, years and intensity of participation in PD events, teacher content knowledge and the ability to document student work, and performance on teacher interviews conducted during student portfolio conferences. PAIR treatment school student data sources included annual surveys, interview and portfolio conference performance ratings. Inter-correlations among the intersections between teacher and student outcome variables were also subjected to factor analysis achieved through step-wise regression modeling techniques to determine the most potent predictors of student arts and academic learning outcomes.
Limitations of the Research:
The methodology and tools presented in the report are dependent on the capacity of arts organizations to collect high quality multivariate data collection over time. The validity and reliability of future studies will depend on the ability to adapt and improve the application tools and methods presented here to suit a particular research or evaluation design. PAIR researchers recognized, as stated in the final report, that results from PAIR were limited by unequal distribution of professional development training that resulted in deficient student work documentation in the early stages of the project. This limitation has been addressed in subsequent projects.
Questions to Guide New Research:
Building on the PAIR documentation and research methods, arts organizations and their school partners can examine the impact of their arts integration teacher professional development programs on student learning. Such research, in particular, might investigate to what extent teacher arts integration professional development outcomes are statistically linked to student arts learning and to what extent measures of student arts or arts integration learning predict academic performance?