Art and Development of Middle School Grades

Words are actual responses to the question “What arts were offered in your middle school and high school?”

Art and the Development of Middle School Grades

                          By: Courtney Centrello


When asked about their experiences with the arts in their earlier schooling, many students respond with a look of happy reflection. They can often tell you their art teacher’s name or their favorite project they completed. For some students however, they remember wishing that they could skip learning to draw and spend more time on the basketball court. Students have many different skills and learning styles, but the creative arts (in all the subsets) have many benefits to our students and their learning.



Three Major Benefits to Arts Education ("The Status of Arts Education in Ohio's Public Schools"):

  1. THE ARTS AND DEVELOPMENT OF COGNITIVE FUNCTIONS Studies link arts instruction to development of skills needed for learning, such as the spatial-temporal reasoning used in mathematics and the phonological awareness needed for learning to read (Weinberger, 1998; Hetland, 2000; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000). The Dana Foundation (Asbury & Rich, 2008) has shown that learning in the arts strengthens neural networks used in other types of learning.
  2. THE ARTS AND EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES Large-scale studies have shown that at-risk students with high levels of arts engagement achieved better outcomes in academics, college enrollment, civic engagement and participation in professional careers than did their peers with low levels of engagement (Catterall, Dumais & Hampden-Thompson, 2012; Catterall, 2009).
  3. THE ARTS AND CAREER READINESS The range of careers in the arts is widening and creative industries that require artistic ideas and skills are emerging and growing. Artistic thinking now infuses technological innovation and the design of everyday products (National Center on Education and the Economy, 2007; Carroll, 2007; National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, 2012). Moreover, in-depth learning experiences in the arts are opportunities to practice dealing with ambiguity, making novel connections, thinking across disciplines and cultures, working in teams and managing time and resources—skills and habits of mind needed in all types of careers (Greene, 1995; Ruppert, 2006; Winner, Hetland, Veenema & Sheridan, 2007; Lichtenberg, Woock & Wright, 2008; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2012; National Research Council, 2012). Leading creative visionaries, innovators, thought leaders and economic experts have mentioned the role of artistic thinking in driving economic growth. (Wagner, 2012, 2010; Florida, 2002; Noppe-Brandon, Deasy, & Gitter, 2011; Eger, 2011).

"Did you see any benefits in your other classes due to your involvement in the arts in your K-12 education?":

  • “Through theater classes, memorization and studying in other classes was far easier” (Miami University Senior)

  • “It pushes kids to look into careers that are outside of the typical doctor or lawyer that some schools may push students to pursue traditionally” (Miami University Junior)


  • “Yes! It really helped me in my other classes as I was always scared to talk in class and once I took a music class I learned the art of performance and was no longer worried to have my voice heard” (Miami University Sophomore)

  • “English was so much more fun after a theater class! I was able to understand stories far more and see each book we read as an entertaining story that I could gain far more information from” (Miami University Freshman”)


Broken into 4 main sections for standards (2013):

  1. Visual Arts  99.8% of districts offer at least one
  2. Drama/ Theatre  34% of districts offer at least one
  3. Dance   4%of districts offer at least one
  4. Music   99.8% of districts offer  at least one



 Schools utilize the funding they receive from the government as well as outsider funders such as a Booster Club, PTA, Local business cooperation, Federal Grants, and Local Arts Agencies



Standards for middle schoolers:

Ohio has many set standards for each one of the individual sections of fine arts listed above. They are set out for each grade and students generally are offered many different classes that share the goal over meeting these standards. These are the lists of overall standards in the 4 sections in Ohio for all grades in public schools:

Visual Arts: 

Drama/ Theater




Works Cited:

Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, Ohio Arts Council, and Ohio Department of Education. (2013). "The Status of Arts Education in Ohio's Public Schools"

Retrieved from:

Interviews with Miami Students in Armstrong Student Center November 16-19, 2016


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