Arts for Academic Achievement Help Students in Minneapolis Schools

The Arts for Academic Achievement Program

The Arts for Academic Achievement Program (AAA) has been bringing artists into Minneapolis Schools since 1997. While its outward focus is on teaching students to paint, dance, and express themselves artistically, its real mission is to make students love learning and use the arts to apply themselves to their academic subjects. Supported initially by an Annenberg Foundation educational reform grant and in partnership with the Perpich Center for Arts Education, AAA has expanded throughout Minnesota. Currently the Minneapolis School District has pledged to continue the program after the end of the initial grant, bringing the program to 120 classrooms in 40 schools in the Minneapolis School District.

How It Helps Students Learn?

Students in the AAA Program develop a positive attitude toward school and learn the value of determination in finishing a project that has meaning for them. National research indicates that instruction through the arts is very effective in raising the achievement scores of at – risk groups. The AAA Program has documented the substantial increase in student assessment scores when arts are integrated into the Minneapolis Public Schools. The ties between third grade reading scores and the level of arts instruction show a clear link between the two. The more arts education provided, the higher the scores, especially within groups that have shown greater barriers in learning.

AAA makes students work hard and feel pride in demonstrating their skills to the community. Students perform or present their projects to real audiences and strive to make those audiences proud of them. As a result, students put real effort into what they do and develop a strong positive attitude toward learning. At the high school level, attendance has jumped for students involved in the AAA program, as students desire to come to school and learn more.

How It Helps Teachers Teach?

AAA brings teachers into the planning and implementation process. This builds a community of learning that cares most about helping students achieve through an atmosphere of cooperation and understanding. Minneapolis School District teacher teams develop curriculum and work together with local artists to present and enhance new learning experiences. This leads to changes in the way that individual teachers as well as whole schools view education.

AAA research shows that teachers involved in the AAA program change the way they teach. Minneapolis School District teachers see how students can learn, redirecting their efforts toward students that had otherwise been regarded as weaker. AAA gave teachers to understanding and experience to help develop more children in areas such as intelligence, leadership, and motivation. In addition, instruction by Minneapolis School District teachers participating in the AAA program created more child – centered classrooms in which children can develop and explore at their own pace. Minneapolis School District teachers learned that the creation of independent student learning activities allowed students to develop their own skills in a different way from teacher – led classroom instruction. Minneapolis School District teachers participating in AAA learned how to encourage students to take risks in order to increase their understanding.

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