What is Arts Integration (AI)?
AI uses the arts (music, art, dance, drama, and creative writing) to teach non-arts subjects such as math, reading, science, and social studies. This is a “whole-child” approach that allows for alternative methods to reach all students in the classroom. In the AI model, lessons are taught and assessed equally by both the primary education teacher and the related-arts teacher. In essence, the non-arts subjects are taught through the arts by both teachers.
UDPC supports authentic Arts Integration
Studies have shown that properly implemented AI programs can supplement arts-based learning and increase overall academic achievement. But AI can only be successful school district administrators and staff have a long-term commitment to it. It is an innovative and sophisticated teaching model that demands appropriate professional development for teachers. It also requires deliberate, thoughtful team lesson planning to engage the diverse student population within the classroom.
UDPC supports an authentic AI curriculum, as described above. However, the AI model that was implemented in Upper Darby School District in 2012-2013 did not adhere to the education experts’ recommendations and the most recent research in this field. As such, UDPC did not support the structure of the AI program for the following reasons:
- The Arts Integration teaching model requires training. UDSD did not offer the teachers a comprehensive professional training program in AI prior to start of the 2012-2013 school year.
- Best practices dictate that Arts Integration programs should be piloted and evaluated before being applied across a school district. UDSD implemented AI in all elementary school social studies and science classes in 2012-2013. A major concern with the current AI program is that the 2012-2013 curriculum for art and music was designed with two days allotted to each content area.
- Arts Integration is designed to be used across all subjects. In UDSD, AI is limited to social studies and science, despite the achievement crisis in math and reading.
- Arts Integration requires lessons that teach content in two subject areas at the same time, and requires assessments in both content areas. No new assessment models have been shared with the teachers to evaluate students’ performance under this new curriculum. In addition, the District has yet to develop any assessment model to determine if AI is meeting its intended goal: to improve educational outcomes for students throughout the District.
UDSD has promised an update regarding AI and its plan for 2013-2014. Stay tuned.