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Arts Integration Success Stories

November 26th, 2018

With so much emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) these days, it often feels like the arts have taken a back seat.

And to some extent they have – which is unfortunate.

Obviously, there is tremendous value in the left-brained disciplines listed above. But for right-brained students who struggle with linear thinking, it can be difficult to grasp these disciplines when taught in the standard fashion.

That’s why some schools across the country are focusing their attention on helping these students succeed by integrating the arts into their teaching. And thus far, there have been a wealth of arts integration success stories. 

That’s why some schools across the country are focusing their attention on helping these students succeed by integrating the arts into their teaching. And thus far, there have been a wealth of arts integration success stories.

What Exactly Is Arts Integration?

Arts integration is more than just doing art projects in class.

It’s a teaching strategy that seamlessly merges arts standards with core curricula. The objective is to build connections and provide engaging context for more right-brained thinkers.

For example, in an arts integrated middle or high school, students in a math class may learn geometric theories by studying Picasso, Braque or Mondrian. Fractions could also be better understood through Mondrian or perhaps through musical timing. And a science class may demonstrate the principles of centrifugal and centripetal force through dance choreography.

By creatively weaving the arts into the standard curriculum, students come away with a deeper and more enduring experience of learning. In other words, they actually engage in the learning process while having fun. And it’s already proven successful.

Arts Integration Success Stories across the United States

Obviously, getting students engaged can be leveraged to boost academic growth. But it goes beyond just that. Since arts integration enables students to participate, understand and retain, another positive side effect is fewer disciplinary issues.


Back in 2007, Wiley H. Bates Middle School, in Annapolis, Maryland, became a fully arts-integrated school. It was the primary initiative in an eventual whole-school reform effort in Annapolis. With this new effort in place, principal Diane Bragdon pulled the school back from the brink of failure and set it on a far more positive trajectory.

The success of the program compelled the district to incorporate school-wide integration in 2009… and with amazing results. There was:

•a 23% drop in referrals and suspensions
• the percentage of math proficiency grew four times over the state level
• the percentage of reading proficiency grew five times over the state level

While most lessons are taught with arts integration, there are still some that are not – if only for the purpose of comparing the two. Arts integration classes continue to report substantial improvements in student comprehension and retention over time.


The West Michigan Academy of Arts & Academics (WMAAA) in Ferrysburg, Michigan is a charter school that has found similar success through arts integration.

By finding ways to take dull topics and make them interesting through dance, music and visual art, trained educators have created a flourishing learning environment where the students have fun. So rather than being buried in text books and completing writing assignments in isolation, students are active, inspired and have a deeper understanding of real world application.

New York

Public Middle School 223 is another great example of how arts integration works. Located in the Bronx – the lowest income district in all of New York – the students at PS 223 participated in a revolutionary four-year arts integration program.

Through this program, students went from a program that was essentially devoid of arts to multi-faceted lesson plans with arts inclusion. And what happened? The following:

• an 8% improvement in Language Arts scores
• a 9% improvement in math scores
• less absenteeism

While some may argue that less absenteeism is going create higher scores, the point still remains that students want to be in school. And that, by itself, is success.


Bobby Riley, principal of the Integrated Arts Academy in Burlington, Vermont, also reports significant increases in students’ reading and math inventory scores, as well as improved test scores.

But for his students, arts integration has another huge benefit.
The Integrated Arts Academy has the distinction of serving a refugee resettlement community. So Riley’s students have often experienced unspeakable trauma before coming to the school. And many have had no formal schooling. Furthermore, they don’t easily speak English – if at all.

“They are quickly communicating with peers using a drawing or musical instrument, since art is a universal language that levels the playing field,” he says. “Art welcomes English-language learners in a non-intimidating way.”

Riley is also thrilled with the dramatic decline in discipline referrals at the school – so much so that he now urges faculty to do arts integration all day, every day.

 Clearly, Arts Integration Works

The above are just a few examples of arts integration success stories.

So even though the arts place low on the hierarchy of academics these days, they are essential for a significant chunk of the population who struggle to learn from “traditional” teaching methods.

And research certainly bears this out.

If you think that you or your child might benefit from an arts integrated education, please contact us today. And prepare for possibility.


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