Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 9.48.55 AM

Image: Minneapolis Institute of Art via Flickr CC

A 2012 study from the National Endowment for the Arts finds that low income students who participate in arts education programs at school show higher academic and social achievements than their counterparts who don’t receive any education in the arts. Not only do schools see an improvement in grades, these students are more likely to register to vote and avoid criminal activities. The report shows that more than 70% of students with exposure to arts education are more likely to continue onto college, compared with the 48% of students who don’t receive an arts experience.

Anne O’Brien with Edutopia says the discrepancy between high and low poverty schools is ever-growing, as the number of high-poverty schools offering arts education declines each year. More schools are cutting visual arts and music programs due to funding, thus putting the burden on the students who would most benefit.

Yet educators have the ability to integrate the arts into their study plans. Woodrow Wilson School in New Jersey implemented an arts integrated curriculum to help students combat the challenges of poverty. Since the program’s inception, Woodrow Wilson outperformed every other school in the state at every grade level, despite having one of the largest low income communities in New Jersey (73%). In fact, 100% of third graders met proficiency standards in math, while 100% of fourth graders met proficiency standards in science, both in 2012. The school has partnered with the New York City Ballet and Metropolitan Opera, helping students nurture their talents and giving them a chance to perform on stage.

Many other schools across the United States have taken on arts education to improve the lives of low income students and have met encouraging results. With grades and test scores continuing to rise among these students, it will be no surprise if more schools across the country make arts education a bigger priority.