Arts Instruction of Public School Students in the First and Third Grades
Few national studies have been conducted on students’ receipt of arts instruction, particularly in the early grades. To address this gap in the literature, this Issue Brief provides a descriptive look at the prevalence of arts instruction received by first and third grade public school students in their schools. Using spring 2000 and spring 2002 data from the School Administrator and Teacher Questionnaires of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998–99 (ECLS-K), this analysis examines public school students’ receipt of arts instruction in first and third grade and the changes in weekly arts instruction between these grades.
Four areas of the arts are considered in this Issue Brief: music; art; dance or creative movement (hereafter referred to as dance); and theater or creative dramatics (hereafter referred to as theater). For each area of the arts, the prevalence of instruction is measured by whether students worked on lessons or projects in that topic area at least once per week. Measures were also created to examine changes between grades for students who had arts instruction in at least one grade.
Schools may differ with respect to their capacity to provide instruction in the arts. Therefore, differences by selected school characteristics, namely, community type and percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, are also examined in each arts area. The former measure is used as a proxy for the potential availability of instructors, while the latter tests whether schools with more scarce resources are able to offer the same breadth of instruction as those with greater resources available to them.