State of the Arts in Chicago Public Schools: Progress Report 2015-2016


Research Abstract
State of the Arts in Chicago Public Schools: Progress Report 2015-2016

These results are based on data collected from 88 percent of the 660 schools in CPS, representing 92 percent of the district’s students, as well as 579 community arts providers that partnered with CPS during the 2015-16 school year, and 20 major institutional arts education funders. The findings documented in this report are especially notable in light of the significant difficulties CPS has faced in recent years. Deep, ongoing fiscal challenges continue to plague the district, while staffing cuts and labor uncertainty in the 2015-16 school year compounded the district-wide instability. Based on the Creative Schools Survey, 60% of CPS schools were certified as Strong or Excelling* in the arts, more than in any of the three previous years; an increase from 29% in 2012-13. Elementary schools were more likely than high schools to attain a category of Strong or Excelling—69% of elementary schools and 35% of high schools were in one of these two categories. Nearly 250,000 CPS students (representing 68% of all students) attended a school that was Strong or Excelling in the arts. Indeed, while improvements continued in 2015-16, they slowed in some areas, such as in the minutes of arts instruction offered to elementary school students, after the large gains made over the past two years. And, as illustrated throughout this report, a more equitable distribution of arts education remains an important goal for the district. Still, the data also show that, notwithstanding these challenges, the collective efforts of school leaders, arts instructors, school communities, local funders, and community arts partners have, overall, helped to sustain or improve the level and reach of arts education provided to Chicago’s public school students.

The 2015-16 State of the Arts in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Report shows that the nation’s third-largest school district continues to improve in delivering instruction in the arts to all students. Since the approval of the 2012 CPS Arts Education Plan, which elevated the arts to a core subject and specified many elements of what a quality arts education should look like, CPS students have benefited from four consecutive years of improvements in arts education. This report provides the most current, comprehensive view of arts education in Chicago.


Yael Silk
October 2016

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