Research: Whole Schools Initiative Evaluation and Research

Arts Integration & the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Whole Schools Initiative: A Stennis Institute Study for Decision-Makers

In 2011, the Mississippi Arts Commission commissioned the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to do a study of the Whole Schools Initiative (WSI). This two year study examined the impact that arts integration has on the academic performance of 4,275 students enrolled in Mississippi public elementary schools and 1,172 students enrolled in Catholic elementary schools that are currently participating in the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Whole Schools Initiative. Analysis of student performance on standardized tests was conducted using the 2010-2011 data from the Mississippi Department of Education.

Download: Executive Summary for Educators · Full Report

This study found the percentage of students scoring “Proficient or Above” on standardized Language Arts and Mathematics Mississippi Curriculum Tests, Grade 4 Mississippi Writing Assessment Tests, and 5th Grade Mississippi Science Tests was significantly higher at schools participating in the Whole Schools Initiative that had effectively implemented the WSI integration model when compared to student performance statewide and when compared to district level student performance for the school district within which the WSI school was located. WSI schools that effectively implement arts integration were found to have reduced or actually eliminated the academic achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students. In WSI schools that effectively implement arts integration, a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students score “Proficient or Above” when compared to all students (not just economically disadvantaged students) at the district and state level, across multiple grade levels, and across multiple subject areas on standardized tests.

This report makes the following recommendations, for consideration by
decision‐makers:

  • Provide school administrators and teachers with resources, professional development, and information on specific practices to address the new Common Core State Standards through arts integration
  • Increase the number of elementary schools participating in the Whole Schools Initiative and expand the adoption of arts integrated learning by early childhood education programs
  • Prioritize Whole Schools Initiative resources to maximize the benefits of arts integrated learning for children during early childhood and elementary school
  • Expand teaching artists programs, increase access to teaching artists, and use teaching artists to augment the implementation of the Common Core State Standards
  • Leverage the existing resource of K – 12 Arts Specialists
  • Develop state policies that reinforce the adoption and expansion of arts integration education models
  • Increase arts integration professional development opportunities

The Whole Schools Initiative’s arts integrated model of educational reform was found to have a significant positive impact on the educational outcomes of Mississippi students. The recommendations contained in this report are designed to build a sustainable system to support arts integration in Mississippi schools and to provide all students in Mississippi with the opportunity to thrive in a world‐class educational system.

Integrating the Arts and Improving Student Literacy (and More) in the Mississippi Arts Commissions’ Whole Schools Initiative

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The following document is the culmination of a four year study of the Whole Schools Initiative conducted by Dick Corbett, Independent Educational Researcher; Bruce Wilson, Independent Educational Researcher; and David Morse, Professor of Educational Psychology and Psychology at Mississippi State University. Additional contributions were made by field researchers Charlotte Tabereaux and Adrenne Dedeaux.

Download The Arts Are An “R” Too

This download requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. It is available as a free download.

To request more information concerning these evaluations, contact: Jodie Engle, phone, 601.359.6040 or e-mail your request to: jengle@arts.ms.gov