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Fact Sheet | NAEP in the News | Summary of Results
AEP Analysis of NAEP Arts Assessment Results | Frequently Asked Questions
Why You Should Care

Download a copy of the 2008 Arts Report Card

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Fact Sheet

What is the Nation's Arts Report Card?
Commonly referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only continuing, national measure of the academic achievement of America’s public and private schools. For 40 years student performance has been measured in the following subjects: reading, math, writing, science and geography. The 2008 NAEP Arts Assessment, or the 2008 Nation’s Arts Report Card, is the fifth NAEP assessment in the arts. The next NAEP arts assessment is scheduled to take place in 2016.

How was the information collected?
The 2008 NAEP Arts Assessment was given to a nationally representative sample of 7,900 eighth-grade students from 260 public and private schools. The 2008 NAEP Arts Assessment was conducted in music and the visual arts. Approximately one-half of these students were assessed in music, and the other half were assessed in visual arts.

The NAEP Arts Framework serves as the blueprint for the assessment, describing the specific knowledge and skills that should be assessed in the four arts disciplines: music, visual arts, theater and dance.  Additionally, three arts processes – responding, creating, and performing – are central to students’ experiences in these disciplines. 

In 2008, due to budget constraints, only the responding process in music and both the responding and creating processes in visual arts were assessed. Theater and dance were not assessed. The responding process in music and visual arts was assessed with multiple-choice questions and constructed response questions that required students to produce answers of a few words or sentences. Creating questions required students to create works of art and design of their own.

Although the questions in the 2008 assessment were taken from those administered in the previous arts assessment in 1997, not all of the results can be compared between the two years.  Only the percentages of students’ correct responses to the multiple-choice questions in 2008 can be compared to those in 1997.

What were the key findings?
For both music and visual arts, on average among the 8th graders assessed:
Students eligible for reduced or free lunch scored lower than students ineligible
 Black and Hispanic students scored lower than White and Asian/Pacific Islander students
 Public school students scored lower than private school students
 Students in urban schools scored lower than students in suburban schools.
The overall average responding score for 8th graders assessed was set at 150 on a scale of 300 for both music and visual arts, with a wide variance in scores between the lowest- and highest-achieving students. Scores for music ranged from 105 for music and 104 for visual arts for the lowest-performing students to 194 for music and 193 for visual arts for the highest-performing students. Because music and visual arts are two distinct disciplines, results are reported separately for each area and cannot be compared.
The average creating task score for visual arts was reported separately as the average percentage of the maximum possible score from 0 to 100 with a national average of 52. In general, students who performed well on the responding questions also performed well on the creating questions.
Compared to 1997, the average reported frequency of arts instruction for 8th graders remained about the same.  However, according to data collected from school administrators, 8% of 8th graders attended schools where no music instruction was offered, and 14% of 8th graders attended schools where no visual arts instruction was offered.  These findings show a slight improvement from 1997.

NAEP Arts Toolkit
Over the next days and weeks, more information about the Nation’s Arts Report Card will be posted to this site.  We hope that these additional resources and documents will be helpful not only in understanding the NAEP, but also as a guide to communicating about it.  The existence of the NAEP arts assessment is an important acknowledgment that the arts are a core subject and that they can be rigorously assessed; moreover, results of the arts assessment portray the current levels of opportunity for American children to learn important knowledge and skills essential to being an educated person.  The current NAEP results graphically demonstrate that our nation still has a long way to go in ensuring that every child has access to a high quality arts education.  Let’s use this opportunity to start and continue important conversations about learning in the arts!

Where to Learn More:
The Nation’s Arts Report card home page: http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/arts_2008/

The following national service organizations have collaborated on the NAEP Arts Assessment Toolkit:  Americans for the Arts, Arts Education Partnership, Educational Theatre Association, The League of American Orchestras, MENC: The National Association for Music Education, National Art Education Association, and the Performing Arts Alliance

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NAEP in the News
Washington Post – Studies Show Art Audience Decline.
Christian Science MonitorWhat does 'p' in music mean? Twenty percent of US students know.
New York Times“Mediocre” Arts Skills for American Eighth Graders
Education WeekNAEP Finds Schools’ Offerings in Arts Hold Steady, But Such Classes Not Available to Many 8th Graders Tested
APNational Arts Test Scores Offer Clouded Picture
USA TodayPicture Is Unclear on Arts Instruction in Schools
Digitaljournal.com - Are American students receiving enough arts education?
Learning First Alliance - All Is Well with Arts Education? Not So Fast
National Center for Education Statistics - NCES Commissioner's Statement: Read the statement by Stuart Kerachsky, Acting Commissioner

Press Releases:
THE NATION’S ARTS REPORT CARD: Results reveal significant achievement gaps in both music and visual arts (NAEP)
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Comments on the Nation’s Arts Report Card
Visual Arts, Music Achievement Stand As Core Component to Student Academic Success Across the United States (NAEA, MENC)

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Summary of Results

Background to the 2008 NAEP Arts Assessment
The NAEP Arts Assessment was administered to a nationally representative sample of 7,900 eighth-grade students from 260 public and private schools. Approximately one-half of these students were assessed in music, and the other half were assessed in visual arts.

The NAEP Arts Framework, developed in 1996, serves as the blueprint for the assessment, describing the specific knowledge and skills that should be assessed in the four arts disciplines: music, visual arts, theater and dance. Additionally, three arts processes – responding, creating, and performing – are central to students’ experiences in these disciplines. In 2008, due to budget constraints, only the responding process in music and both the responding and creating processes in visual arts were assessed. The responding process in both music and visual arts was assessed with multiple-choice questions and constructed-response questions that required students to produce answers of a few words or sentences. Students were asked to analyze and describe aspects of music they heard, critique instrumental and vocal performances, and demonstrate their knowledge of standard musical notation and music’s role in society.

For the responding portion of the visual arts assessment, students were asked to analyze and describe works of arts and design. For the creating portion, students were required to create a self-portrait that was scored for identifying detail, compositional elements and use of materials. Self portraits were rated as sufficient, uneven, minimal, or insufficient, based on the student’s representation of clear observations and characteristics specific to the individual work. The visual arts assessment included multiple-choice questions regarding the technical similarity between two self- portraits, aesthetic properties, and characteristics of artistic medium such as charcoal.

Although the questions in the 2008 assessment were taken from those administered in the previous arts assessment in 1997, not all of the results can be compared between the two years. Only the percentages of students’ correct responses to the multiple-choice questions in 2008 can be compared to those in 1997.

Key Findings of the 2008 NAEP Arts Assessment
Access to Arts Learning Opportunities
Music
 School administrators reported that 57% of eighth graders attended schools where instruction in music was available “at least 3 or 4 times a week,” compared to 43% in 1997. Conversely, 8% of eighth graders attended schools in 2008 in which instruction in music was not offered, down from 9% in 1997. In 2008, 16% of students attended schools in which music was offered “less than once a week” or not at all.
 The following percentages of students reported participating in various musical activities in school: playing in a band, 16%; playing in an orchestra, 5%; singing in a chorus or choir, 17%; and one or more of the three activities 34%.

Visual Arts
 School administrators reported that 47% of eighth graders attended schools where instruction in visual arts was available “at least 3 or 4 times a week,” compared to 52% in 1997. Conversely, 14% of eighth graders attended schools in 2008 in which instruction in visual arts is not offered, down from 17% in 1997. In 2008, 24% of students attended schools in which visual arts were offered “less than once a week” or not at all.
 Twenty percent of students in both 1997 and 2008 reported that their teacher did not have them paint or draw once a month. In 2008, 59% of the students reported that their art teacher did not have them create things out of clay or other materials in their visual arts class at least once a month.
 The results show a decrease in the number of eighth grade students who are visiting art museums, galleries or exhibitions with their class at least once a year. In 1997, 22% of students responded that they had visited an art museum once a year; in 2008, only 16% reported visiting a museum, a statistically significant decline from 1997.

What Students Know and Can Do
The average responding score was reported on a NAEP scale of 0 to 300 for both music and visual arts. Because music and visual arts are two distinct disciplines, results are reported separately for each area and cannot be compared. Scores ranged from 105 (music) and 104 (visual arts) among lowest-performing students to 194 (music) and 193 (visual arts) among highest-performing students. In visual arts, the difference between the lower percentile (10th) and the higher (90th) was 89 points.

Music
 In response to multiple-choice questions in music, 52% of students correctly answered a question requiring them to identify the texture of the musical example; only 20% of students scored “adequate” when reading musical notation; 50% were able to correctly identify the sound of an instrument after listening to a musical recording; when asked to identify the origin of a musical style, 52% responded with a “developed” answer. These responses were not significantly different from the 1997 assessment.

Visual Arts
 On the creating assessment in visual arts, the overall average was a 52%. In general, the students who performed well on the questioning also responded well to the creating art task.
 Creating questions required students to create their own works of art and design. The average creating task score for visual arts was reported separately as the average percentage of the maximum possible score from 0 to 100, with a national average of 52. In general, students who performed well on the responding questions also performed well on the creating questions.
 In response to a multiple choice question regarding the technical similarity between two self- portraits, aesthetic properties, and characteristics of mediums, 36% of students correctly responded that “both works combine loose gestural lines with careful drawing.” In response to a multiple choice question requiring students to describe the characteristics of charcoal in the self portraits, 38% of students provided a “partial” answer for these questions. On the creating portion of the assessment, 4% of students created a self-portrait that was rated “sufficient”; 25% received a rating of “uneven”; 57% received a rating of “minimal” and 14% received a rating of “insufficient.”
 In 2008, an overall average of 42% of students chose the correct answer on multiple choice questions in visual arts, the same percentage of students who selected the correct answer in 1997. On multiple choice questions in visual arts, percentages ranged from 62% of students who correctly identified the purpose of insulating package materials to 23% who correctly identified an artistic style that influenced cubism.

The Achievement Gap
Differences in scoring, many of them significant, appeared across ethnicity, socio-economic status, school location (urban, suburban, or rural), school type (public or private), and gender. Overall, White and Asian/Pacific Islander females in private schools located in suburbs, rural areas, or in towns scored the highest in music and visual arts (93% of eighth grade students in the US in 2008 attended public schools).

Ethnicity
 In 2008, white and Asian/Pacific Islander students scored higher in both music and visual art than Black and Hispanic students. Scores for responding in music for White and Asian/Pacific Islander students were 29 to 32 points higher than scores for Black and Hispanic students.
 Scores for responding in visual arts for White and Asian/Pacific Islander students were 22 to 31 points higher than the scores for Black and Hispanic students. Scores for creating in visual arts for White and Asian/Pacific Islander students were 8 to 12 points higher than the scores for Black and Hispanic students.

Socio-economic Status
 Students from lower-income families (students eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch) scored 28 points lower in music and 9 points lower in visual arts than students who were not eligible.

School Location
Students who attended city schools had lower average scores than students who attended suburban, town, and rural schools—differences of 13, 14, and 8 points respectively.

School Type
The average responding score in music for eighth-graders in public schools was 14 points lower than the score for students in private schools and 10 points lower in visual arts.

Gender
 Female students scored 10 points higher than their male counterparts in the responding sections of both music and visual arts.
 Female students scored 6 points higher than male students in creating visual art.

Teaching and Learning in the Classroom

Music
 When students were asked how often they were assigned certain activities in music class, the only statistically significant difference from the 1997 NAEP Arts Assessment was in “writing down music”—from 26% of students in 1997 to 33% in 2008. For other activities in music class, there was no significant change.
 The percentage of students who reported being asked by their teacher to listen to music at least once a month showed a decline from 51% in 1997 to 49% in 2008.
 The percentage of students who reported being asked by their teacher to make up their own music in music class at least once a month showed an increase from 16% in 1997 to 17% in 2008.

Visual Arts
 The percentage of eighth-grade students who were asked by their teacher to write about their artwork in visual arts class at least once a month increased from 21% in 1997 to 27% in 2008.
 The percentage of students whose teacher had them choose their own art project in visual arts class at least once a month decreased from 47% in 1997 to 39% in 2008
 54% of eighth-graders reported that they or their teacher saved their artwork in a portfolio in 2008, an insignificant difference from the 50% reported in 1997.

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AEP Analysis of NAEP Arts Assessment 

The AEP Analysis of NAEP Arts Assessment Results is not another summary. Rather, its purpose is to interpret the NAEP results within the existing research and policy contexts of education, and specifically the effort to reform education in order to ensure complete, quality learning experiences for all students. The analysis looks at the NAEP results from four perspectives: educational access and equity, educational quality, complete curricula, and the adequacy of research.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the National Assessment of Educational Progress?
Commonly referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only continuing, national measure of the academic achievement of America’s public and private schools.  For 40 years student performance has been measured in the following subjects: reading, math, writing, science, and geography.

What is the NAEP Arts Assessment?
The National Assessment of Educational Progress in the Arts demonstrates that creativity—the skill in such demand in our fast-paced information age—is learned and can be assessed.

The 2008 NAEP Arts Assessment, also known as Nation’s Arts Report Card, is the fifth NAEP assessment in the arts.  The next NAEP arts assessment is scheduled to take place in 2016.

The assessment is based on the 1996 NAEP Arts Education Assessment Framework, which was the result of a national consensus effort under the auspices of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). The framework is a broadly accepted outline of what hundreds of arts educators, arts curriculum experts, policymakers, business representatives, and members of the general public thought the arts assessment should test.

How was the 2008 information collected?
A nationally representative sample of over 7,900 eighth-grade students from public and non-public schools participated in the NAEP Arts Assessment in 2008 in music and the visual arts. An individual student was assessed in only one art form.

What was assessed?
Students were assessed on their ability to respond to works of music and to create and respond to the visual arts. Dance and theatre were not assessed.

The responding process in music and visual arts was assessed with multiple-choice and constructed-response questions that required students to produce answers of a few words or sentences.

In music, students were asked to analyze and describe aspects of music they heard, critique instrumental and vocal performances, and demonstrate their knowledge of standard musical notation and music’s role in society.

For visual arts, students were asked to create a self-portrait that would express something important about their personalities, which was scored for identifying detail, compositional elements, and use of materials.  Students responded to multiple-choice questions regarding the technical similarity between two self-portraits, aesthetic properties, and characteristics of artistic media.

Why weren’t students assessed in all three competencies—creating, performing, and responding—in music and visual arts?
The U.S. Department of Education’s report on developing arts assessment strategies points out, “At its best, the teaching of the arts emphasizes creating and performing arts as well as studying existing works of art. If this is the way the arts ought to be taught, this is the way the arts should be assessed with tasks that ask students to respond to, create, and perform works of art.” (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/strategies/)

Unfortunately, budget constraints prohibited assessment in all three areas of competency.

Why weren’t dance and theatre assessed?
The small number of U.S. schools with programs in theatre and dance resulted in too few data points for an assessment in those disciplines.  The National Assessment Governing Board also cites budget constraints as a barrier to assessments in dance and theatre.

What were the key findings and how did students do?
The results reveal barriers to student achievement in the arts, with significant racial/ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic gaps.  For further details please refer to the Arts Education Partnership Summary Results document.

In response to the results, the Secretary of Education and senior officials at the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Assessment Governing Board all called for substantially increasing access to arts learning and significantly improving the quality of national data collection on the status of arts education in the nation's schools. 
Is trend data available comparing the 1997 and 2008 results?
Only the 2008 multiple-choice questions can be compared to the 1997 results.  Changes in scoring procedures prevent comparing constructed-response questions.  Changes in the arts materials available for use and the degradation of 1997 samples of art works prevent comparisons with 2008 student responses to the creating questions.

What does the NAEP tell us about the status of arts education in our nation’s schools?
While the NAEP gives us some valuable information about what students know and are able to do in the arts, we lack complete national data about the status and conditions of arts education instruction in our nation’s schools.

The NAEP measures student knowledge and skills in the arts, but it does not provide a complete picture of the availability and quality of arts education currently delivered in our nation’s schools.  Unfortunately, complete recent data has not been collected about the status of arts education in our nation's public and private schools.

Are plans in place to measure how much arts education is available to students in this country?
The U.S. Department of Education’s Fast Response Survey System (FRSS), which measures how much arts education is being delivered in schools, is currently underway.  Preliminary findings will be available in 2011, and the full report will be complete in 2012.  The last FRSS in the arts was conducted in the 1999-2000 school year.

Absent complete data, what do we know about the status of arts education in our schools?
A 2007 study from the Center on Education Policy has found that, since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind act, 30% of districts with at least one school identified as needing improvement— those with the students most responsive to the benefits of the arts—have decreased instruction time for art and music.  The arts are uniquely able to boost learning and achievement for young children, students from economically disadvantaged circumstances, and students needing remedial instruction.

A March 2009 study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) titled, Access to Arts Education: Inclusion of Additional Questions in Education’s Planned Research Would Help Explain Why Instruction Time Has Decreased for Some Students, points to the need for additional research by the U.S. Department of Education to determine the impact of NCLB on access to arts learning.  It also finds that minority and low-income students are experiencing decreases in access to arts education, and that the status of state budgets significantly impacts the availability of arts education in schools.

In addition to more frequent and comprehensive FRSS and NAEP arts reports, the U.S. Department of Education's research efforts must be strengthened by systematically including the arts in studies conducted on the condition of education, practices that improve academic achievement, and the effectiveness of Federal and other education programs.

What plans are in place for the next NAEP Arts Assessment?  What are the changes that arts education advocates recommend in the administration of the next arts NAEP in 2016?
The next NAEP Arts Assessment is scheduled to take place in 2016.  To provide a complete picture of arts learning in the U.S., future National Assessments of Educational Progress in the Arts should be more comprehensive in scope and depth, and be conducted more frequently.

The NAEP Arts Assessment provides critical information about the arts skills and knowledge of our nation’s students. Future National Assessments of Educational Progress in the arts should include comprehensive information about the status and condition of music, visual arts, dance, and theatre education.

The 1997 NAEP Arts Assessment was the most comprehensive arts assessment of its kind, going beyond “fill-in-the-bubble” and pencil and paper tasks to include portfolio and performance-based assessments.  In fact, the 1997 NAEP Arts Assessment was the most comprehensive assessment and report of learning in any subject area, and became a model for future NAEP assessments and reports in a range of other core subjects of learning.  The 2008 Arts Assessment only measured students’ ability to respond to music and to create and respond to the visual arts.  Future NAEPs in the arts should measure students’ ability to create, perform, and respond to dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts.

The NAEP Arts Assessment was administered only to 8th grade students.  For a comprehensive understanding of student learning in the arts, future assessments should be administered in grades 4, 8, and 12.

The most recent NAEP Arts Assessment prior to the 2008 report was conducted in 1997, leaving an 11-year gap in information about student knowledge in this core academic subject area.  The NAEP should be administered at least once every five years. 

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Why You Should Care about the Nation’s Arts Report Card and What You Can Do

The 2008 NAEP Arts Assessment measured student progress in music and visual arts, using a nationally representative sample of 7,900 eighth-grade students. Students were assessed on their ability to respond to music and to create and respond to visual arts. The U.S. Department of Education’s report on developing arts assessment strategies points out, “At its best, the teaching of the arts emphasizes creating and performing arts as well as studying existing works of art. If this is the way the arts ought to be taught, this is the way the arts should be assessed with tasks that ask students to respond to, create, and perform works of art.”  (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/strategies/)

The NAEP Arts Assessment reaffirms that the arts are a core academic subject as defined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently called No Child Left Behind), and that creativity is a skill that can be learned and assessed. President Obama has acknowledged the role that creativity will play in preparing students for a twenty-first-century workforce, saying “I’m calling on our nation’s governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don't simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess twenty-first-century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity.”

In recent years, systemic cutbacks in school arts programs have seriously eroded students’ arts education opportunities. A 2007 study by the Center on Education Policy found that, since the enactment of No Child Left Behind, 30% of districts with at least one school identified as needing improvement—those with the students most responsive to the benefits of the arts—have decreased instruction time for art and music. Additionally, the NAEP results report that 8% of eighth-grade students attend schools where no music instruction is offered, and 14% attend schools where no visual arts instruction is offered. Arts organizations have a critical role to play to ensure that the data outlined in this report is used to bolster the case for creating, maintaining, or expanding curricular school arts programs for all students. 

NAGB reports that theatre and dance were not measured in the 2008 NAEP Arts Assessment due to insufficient resources. Advocates need to push for a comprehensive NAEP exam that assesses dance, music, theatre, and visual arts in grades 4, 8, and 12 when the next scheduled test is administered in 2016. Further, arts NAEPs should measure students’ ability to create, perform, and respond in all four arts areas. 

Actions you can take to promote the Arts NAEP Report Card:

Draw public attention to the report

 Use the NAEP results release to prompt a public conversation about the status of arts education at the state and local levels.  Use the fact sheet included in the toolkit as a starting point for conversation, or one of the sample press releases.  
 Ask a board president, artist, educator, parent, or business leader to sign and submit a letter-to-the editor that puts the national test results into a context that addresses the status of arts education in your community.

Collaborate with in-school arts specialists

 Share the results of the Report Card and strategize with teachers, curriculum specialists, and parents to send a clear, consistent message to local decision-makers.  In-school specialists are your best allies in persuading school administrators to devote funding and resources to arts education – you might refer visual arts and music specialists to the National Art Education Association and National Association for Music Education for more information. 

Persuade decision-makers to increase funding for arts education

 Meet with local and state education policymakers, including principals, superintendents, and school board members.  Secure a commitment to strengthening arts education!
 Contact your legislators.  The U.S. Congress and state legislatures are making important education and policy funding decisions.  In your letters, phone calls, or emails, include information about NAEP and the benefit of arts education.
 Attend PTA meetings, school board meetings, and other community forums.
 Meet with the administrators in your school district that make decisions regarding spending.  Work with them to identify local, state, federal, and private support for arts education and help your district to secure those funds.

Mobilize your community and the public in support of arts education

 Post AEP’s NAEP Fact Sheet in newsletters, and performance programs.  Share the results with your board of directors, and encourage them to join in the advocacy effort. 

Identify new partners in promoting arts education

 Remember that universities, business-owners, and child-care providers are important stakeholders in providing students with quality education.
 Meet with local artists and social service organizations to explore and create new partnerships through which your organization can advance arts education.
 Identify jobs in your community that require knowledge of or skills in the arts.  Share this analysis with your school board.

The following national service organizations have collaborated on the NAEP Arts Assessment Toolkit:  Americans for the Arts, Arts Education Partnership, Educational Theatre Association, The League of American Orchestras, MENC: The National Association for Music Education, National Art Education Association, and the Performing Arts Alliance.

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Art Educator Links

RESOURCES
Places to go for more information about research, programs, policies and funding for arts education.

American Association of Museums http://www.aam-us.org/
 Americans for the Arts http://www.artsusa.org/networks/
arts_education/
arts_education_015.asp

Arts Education Partnership www.aep-arts.org
 ArtsEdge http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/
 Association of Performing Arts Presenters www.artspresenters.org

 Educational Theatre Association www.edta.org
 Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education http://www.kennedy-center.org/
education/kcaaen/

 League of American Orchestras www.americanorchestras.org
 MENC: National Association for Music Education www.menc.org
 National Art Education Association
www.arteducators.org
National Assessment Governing Board http://www.nagb.org/flash.htm
National Endowment for the Arts http://www.nea.gov/pub/
pubArtsed.php

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA)
Research:
http://www.nasaa-arts.org/nasaanews/arts-and-learning/al_research.htm
Resources: http://www.nasaa-arts.org/nasaanews/arts-and-learning/al_resources.htm
Find out about the arts education resources available to you through your state arts agency. The NASAA site includes a state-by-state directory of Internet connections to state arts agencies.
 No Subject Left Behind
http://www.aep-arts.org/files/advocacy/
NoSubjectLeftBehind2005.pdf

Opera America http://www.operaamerica.org/
Content/Advocacy/education.aspx

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/
list/oii/index.html?src=oc

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