Arts and Culture

The National Endowment for the Arts has released a new report that draws a strong association between arts involvement and academic achievement for at-risk youth. 

In his introduction to the report, NEA chair Rocco Landesman writes:

Students who have arts-rich experiences in school do better across-the-board academically, and they also become more active and engaged citizens, voting, volunteering, and generally participating at higher rates than their peers. 

The report is based on four long-term studies which examined the academic and civic behavior outcomes of teenagers and young adults who have engaged deeply with the arts in or out of school.

The researchers focused their analysis on teenagers and young adults who came from lower socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds. 

Some of the report's significant findings on arts involvement and low-SES students:

  • Students who had arts-rich experiences in high school showed higher overall GPAs than did students who lacked those experiences.
  • High school students who earned few or no arts credits were five times more likely not to have graduated than students who earned many arts credits.
  • Arts-engaged high school students enrolled in competitive colleges —and in four-year colleges in general—at higher rates than did low arts-engaged students.
  • Students who had intensive arts experiences in high school were three times more likely than students who lacked those experiences to earn a bachelor’s degree. They also were more likely to earn “mostly A’s” in college.
  • Young adults who had arts-rich experiences in high school were more likely than other young adults to have volunteered recently.
  • Young adults who had arts-rich experiences in high school were more likely to vote and/or to participate in a political campaign.

Read the NEA's report on “Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth.”