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The arts and achievement in at-risk youth: findings from four longitudinal studies

Catterall, James S; Dumais, Susan A; Hampden-Thompson, Gillian


James S Catterall

Susan A Dumais


This report examines the academic and civic behavior outcomes of teenagers and young adults who have engaged deeply with the arts in or out of school. In several small-group studies, children and teenagers who participated in arts education programs have shown more positive academic and social outcomes in comparison to students who did not participate in those programs. Such studies have proved essential to the current research literature on the types of instrumental benefits associated with an arts education. A standard weakness of the literature, however, has been a dearth of large-scale, longitudinal studies following the same populations over time, tracking the outcomes of students who received intensive arts exposure or arts learning compared with students who did not. "The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth" is a partial attempt to fill this knowledge gap. The authors use four large national databases to analyze the relationship between arts involvement and academic and social achievements. This report displays correlations between arts activity among at-risk youth and subsequent levels of academic performance and civic engagement. For this task, the authors relied on four large longitudinal databases. Each source has unique strengths and limitations in terms of study sample size, age range, and the types of variables included--whether related to arts involvement (in-school and/or extracurricular), academic progress, or social and/or civic participation. Yet after accounting for these differences, three main conclusions arise: (1) Socially and economically disadvantaged children and teenagers who have high levels of arts engagement or arts learning show more positive outcomes in a variety of areas than their low-arts-engaged peers; (2) At-risk teenagers or young adults with a history of intensive arts experiences show achievement levels closer to, and in some cases exceeding, the levels shown by the general population studied; and (3) Most of the positive relationships between arts involvement and academic outcomes apply only to at-risk populations (low-SES). But positive relationships between arts and civic engagement are noted in high-SES groups as well. Meet the Databases is appended. (Contains 11 notes.)


Catterall, J. S., Dumais, S. A., & Hampden-Thompson, G. (2012). The arts and achievement in at-risk youth: findings from four longitudinal studies. National Endowment for the Arts

Report Type Technical Report
Publication Date 2012
Deposit Date Sep 11, 2023
Keywords Art Education, Music Education, Dance Education, Theater Arts, At Risk Persons, Economically Disadvantaged, Disadvantaged Youth, Socioeconomic Status, Academic Achievement, Citizen Participation, Outcomes of Education, Extracurricular Activities, Reading,
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