As New Jersey Approaches ‘Universal Access’ To Arts Education, Student Participation In The Arts Increased To 76%

“In a world where imagination, creativity and innovation are sculpting our future, ensuring we provide the inspiration for these skills for all students must be our goal,” said Robert Morrison, director, Arts Ed NJ.

Widely acknowledged as a national leader in arts education, New Jersey is now reaching the point of “universal access” to arts education for all students, according to a new research study by Arts Ed NJ as part of the New Jersey Arts Education Census Project. The census report, ARTS ED NOW: Every Child, Every School revealed that during the 2015/2016 school year, 99% of New Jersey schools representing 99.4% of students provided arts education.

The census also showed that only 26 schools statewide (serving 9,160 students) reported offering no arts instruction, a dramatic reduction from a decade ago when more than 77,000 students did not have access. Once universal access is achieved, New Jersey will be the first state in the nation to be able to make this claim, according to Robert Morrison, director, Arts Ed NJ, which co-sponsored the census. However, while statewide arts education access is broad, only 11% of students enjoy access to all four arts disciplines – dance, music, theater and visual art – as required by state code.

There is more positive news: Seventy-six percent of all students (nearly 1 million) participated in one or more arts education offering during the census year, including 93% of elementary, 86% of middle and 46% of high school students. Overall participation has shown steady gains, increasing by 11%, or more than 105,000 students since 2011, and 140,000 students since 2006. Likewise, Per-Pupil Arts Spending (PPAS) has increased by 12% in elementary and middle schools and 15% in high schools since 2011.

“This report shows how educators and communities are working hard to provide all students access to arts education,” said New Jersey Education Commissioner Kimberley Harrington. “By working to engage all students with high-quality arts education across the state, we are giving our students more opportunities to use their voice of creativity and providing them skills that will help them be successful beyond high school.”

Morrison cautions that more work needs to be done,…

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