Do the arts impact test scores?

Our best guess is that test scores may have risen because the extra arts activities increased student interest and engagement in school. Looking at two different measures of student conscientiousness, the likelihood that students would fail to respond to survey items or would respond carelessly on those items, we find that treatment students experienced a significant increase on these outcomes, which may be indicators of school engagement. If students are trying to be responsive on our survey as a result of being exposed to interesting arts activities, perhaps they are also trying harder in school more generally. Maybe arts-focused field trips do not teach math or reading, but they do make students more interested in their school that does teach math and reading.

Found it a bit ironic after having a discussion with colleagues about Museum Advocacy Day that this article came across my feed; apparently a new study has shown that students engaging in arts related field trips have increased test scores in math and reading. Surprising? Very! At least to this team of researchers, though they are still curious as to WHY they have found these results. 

With Museum Advocacy Day kicking off this coming sunday (Feb 25th) in the US, I thought this article would be an interesting bit to call attention to. It seems like a no-brainer that field trips to historic sites, history museums, or science museums would have a direct impact in the learnings taught in-school. Makes sense. But when art theory, or music composition, and other cultural topics of the like are neither taught nor tested for at this school level, does it really matter whether kids are exposed to them through school? Do we really need field trips for the arts? The answer is yes. 

Though researchers are still figuring out the correlation between arts field trips and higher test scores, the best hypothesis is that they make students more interested in school in general. If students are more interested in school as a whole, they will be more engaged in all topics taught, including math and reading thus raising test scores. Check out more details below! Really interesting stuff, and a great testament in advocating for your local art museums and organizations. 

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