Final Evaluation Report on the Center for Arts Education’s New York City Partnership for Arts and Education

June 1, 2001

In 1993, the Walter H. Annenberg Foundation announced the beginning of its Annenberg Challenge initiative earmarked $500 million to support systemic change initiatives is the country's urban school districts. Annenberg funded three sites that focused on school reform through the arts, and one that was rural in nature. New York City received a 2:1 matching grant of $12 million awarded to the Center for Arts Education (CAE), a newly formed intermediate agency founded to advocate for and support arts education in the New York City public schools. In their recently (2001) commissioned report, Lessons and Reflections, the Annenberg Foundation and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform report that the three Annenberg funded arts projects forced teachers to take a closer look at youngsters who were not succeeding by traditional academic measures. "A student's ability to dance or draw or play an instrument does not automatically solve that child's problems with reading and math, but it does allow teachers to see that child in a new light."

The report describes how the Center for Arts Education's citywide request for proposals stimulated 430 schools-more than one in three-to come forward.

'There had never been such a response to an external organization's RFP,' said Hollis Headrick, the Center's executive director. City officials took note and within two years had added $75 million to the school budget to hire new music and art teachers. Harold Levy, the school chancellor, told the Center for the Arts leadership, 'If you had not existed, we would have had to invent you.' And Mayor Rudolph Giuliani credited the Annenberg program with serving as 'a remarkable catalyst to restore arts education throughout the entire public school system.' He called the arts 'an extraordinary window through which other disciplines are learned, including important reading skills in the early elementary grades.'

Most of the CAE funding was re-granted through a competitive process to partnerships between schools and arts organizations, through a school reform initiative called the CAE New York City Partnerships for Arts and Education Program. All related (CAE) programs were designed to support partnerships between schools and cultural organizations and to provide all students in New York City with rich experiences and education in the arts. Key to the theory behind the program is that arts education is a vital part of all students' lives not just for the select few; and that partnerships that build upon the high caliber of New York's cultural resources can alter and enhance the nature and quality of education, providing the city's schools and students with unparalleled opportunities to learn from and with some of the most preeminent artists, arts institutions and programs in the world. Through this work, school change and improvement were effected and supported.

Features designed to support the initiative's goals included:

  • Supporting projects that reach ALL children within a school

  • building in extensive professional development for participating partner organizations to ensure high quality, thorough, and well-integrated program planning and implementation

  • Promoting arts curriculum and instruction that is comprehensive and complete, including (a) skills-based instruction, (b) aesthetic education, and (c) integrated curricula in multiple arts disciplines

  • Assisting partnerships to develop mechanisms and means for sustaining their efforts beyond the life of their grant

  • Developing public awareness of and advocacy for the critical need for good arts instruction as a part of the whole child's education, in order to build support and protect the arts through future pedagogical and budget storms

  • Supporting partnerships as they encounter political, financial, curricular, and cultural challenges or roadblocks to developing effective arts instruction for students.

In the funded partnerships, the arts acted as a catalyst for reform. Successful implementation of the projects demanded new collaborations between school and non-school professionals, new ways of teaching that integrated the arts with core curricular areas, new ways of thinking about student learning, attention to the NYS Learning Standards, and in many cases new ways of structuring school time or staffing. The arts were also a focus of reform in a school system that had, after the fiscal crises of the 1970s, largely eliminated the arts from the school curriculum. The initiative successfully brought back the arts-in a variety of disciplines and approaches-to NYC school children. It also brought a system focus to arts education, promoting, in part, a district investment of $225 million in mandated arts funding from FY 98 through FY01. Discussions about school improvement included a focus on the arts, along with literacy and other content domains.

To encourage partnerships and programs, CAE required all projects to focus their design and efforts on five guiding principles:

  • Developing committed partnerships, where the strengths and missions of the school and cultural organizations complemented one another

  • Providing arts curriculum and instruction that included (a) skills-based instruction in at least two art disciplines, (b) aesthetic education, and (c) integrated the arts with core curricular areas

  • Building in extensive professional development for teachers and teaching artists

  • Including program evaluation and assessment of student learning

  • Supporting existing school reform and school improvement plans.

CAE formed partnerships with the NYC Board of Education (BOE), the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), to implement the program and to align it with other initiatives and priorities in the city. These partners met regularly to discuss common interests and initiatives. Through an array of professional development workshops, and through targeted technical assistance provided directly to the schools by its staff, CAE worked to ensure that the programs were addressing the guiding principles. CAE worked with these partners in awarding grants, and also in its other advocacy and support activities, which included:

    assisting partnerships to develop mechanisms and means for sustaining their efforts beyond the life of their grant

  • Developing public awareness of and advocacy for the critical need for good arts instruction as a part of the whole child's education

  • Providing professional development workshops for classroom practitioners as well as project administrators

  • Supporting partnerships as they encountered political, financial, curricular, and cultural challenges or roadblocks to developing effective arts instruction.

Over four and one-half years, CAE multi-year funding was distributed to 81 schools and 135 cultural and community-based organizations, colleges and universities. These partnerships together served more than 54,000 students and 3,400 teachers, teaching artists, and administrators annually. Additionally, CAE undertook many other programs and initiatives to support the partnerships and to increase public support for arts education in New York City.

About the Program Evaluation
In 1997, the Education Development Center/Center for Children and Technology (EDC/CCT) was contracted to provide formative evaluation of the Arts Partnership program. The formative nature of the work required data collection and analysis that could help CAE better support the work of the partnerships.

Each partnership was responsible for developing an evaluation process using school or cultural partner staff or an outside evaluator to document individual program effectiveness and to gather student impact data for annual reports submitted to CAE. These project reports were reviewed and analyzed by the EDC/CCT research team, with the goal of providing feedback to CAE about the needs of the field and to describe the school-based evaluation efforts.

For the first two and one-half years, the EDC/CCT research team plan included work in nine focus schools, where a variety of participants were interviewed and visited repeatedly over time. Classroom observations were conducted as a way of grounding areas of inquiry that could be explored, at scale, in interviews and through survey instruments. The research team also spent extensive time attending CAE professional development workshops, proposal reviews, and cross-site gatherings.

For the last two years, the research team focussed its attention on the development, administration, and analysis of a variety of instruments, as well as the analysis of the annual evaluation reports submitted by the partnerships. Additionally, because the partnership evaluation reports contained little information about student learning, the research team undertook two efforts to gather student learning data. The first was an examination of test score data collected by the BOE. The second was a collaborative research project, where researchers worked with ten teams of artists and teachers to help document their integrated curriculum and its effects on student learning. This documentation required working with teachers and teaching artists to clarify instructional goals, and create student assessment tools, thus taking on certain aspects of embedded professional development for participants.

Data collected by the research team, and considered in this report, include:

  • Pre-/Post-Partnership Arts Resource Inventory surveys (number of respondents=123 of 160)

  • Surveys of Teachers (number=337 of 2000), Teaching Artists (number=163 of 500), Project Coordinators (number=55 of 80), and Cultural Organization Administrators (number=53 of 135)

  • Interviews with principals (number=21 of 80)

  • Review of Annual Evaluation Reports (number=176)

  • Board of Education Test Scores for a sample of schools (number=24of 80)

  • Curriculum, Instruction, and Learning Analysis (number=10 schools of 80)

Additionally, fieldwork, although less structured than in the beginning of the evaluation process, continued by way of participation in a variety of professional development workshops, arts organization conferences, site visits, and planning meetings. This work was important to alerting us to ongoing developments of trends in the projects. These data provide multiple perspectives on the programs, and allow us to use triangulation methods to confirm effects and implications of the programs.


Bronwyn Bevan
Noga Admon
Terry Baker