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Closing the arts access gap in the Central District

Leschi Elementary School

Mayor Ed Murray and Superintendent Larry Nyland pose with Kindergartners and 1st graders at Leschi Elementary School.

In the first year of implementation of The Creative Advantage arts education access initiative in the Central region, the arts access gap was closed. What does that mean? In 2011, we conducted a needs assessment around the state of arts education in Seattle Public Schools. The assessment found inconsistent access to arts education, especially for students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, students eligible for the transitional bilingual program, and students identifying as Black, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native.

We launched the Creative Advantage in one area of the School District that demonstrated particularly challenging numbers, the Central District. After just one year, the Central District now shows access hours on par with the rest of the district – closing the access gap for those students. In all, nearly 1700 students attended music classes that would not have been available before the Creative Advantage roll-out. Additionally, more students in the Central District are reaching standards in the arts, and there is an increased awareness and conversation around issues of social justice, tied to this initiative.

Bringing the Central District up to par with the rest of the school district is significant, but it’s also important to note that The Creative Advantage aims to raise total instructional time in the arts for all students across the district. In other words, it’s great that we closed this access gap, but our young people deserve even more.

If you’d like to read the full report, you can download it here;

We’re so proud of these wins for students, and encouraged by this demonstration of impact. It’s also a great time to announce The Creative Advantage is expanding! In addition to the 13 schools served by the Creative Advantage in the Central District, The Creative Advantage will roll-out in Southwest Seattle in 2015, serving Arbor Heights, Concord International, Highland Park, Roxhill, Sanislo, West Seattle Elementary, K-5 STEM, Denny International Middle School, Chief Sealth International High School and Middle College at High Point.

Professional development and planning is starting now, and next school year will see new programs in Southwest Seattle focused on arts access. Stay tuned for updates throughout the years.