Shapiro Administration Unveils New Arts Dashboard to Increase Student Participation in the Arts While Visiting McKeesport School District

McKeesport, Pennsylvania – Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis and Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Dr. Khalid N. Mumin today unveiled PDE’s new Arts Dashboard, an open data portal to review the state of arts education in the Commonwealth – while visiting McKeesport High School in the McKeesport School District. Davis and Moomin also watched performances by the school’s band, choir and marching band and held a roundtable discussion with student musicians.

“No matter what they look like or what zip code they live in, Pennsylvania children deserve a high-quality education, including instruction and experiences in the arts.” said Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, who is also a graduate of McKeesport High School. “Art, music, dance and theater are not just enrichment; they are essential to preparing our children to be well-rounded citizens of our Commonwealth and the world. I was thrilled to participate in today’s event that showcased the talented students at McKeesport.”

The interactive dashboard shows users which schools provide access to arts education and in what disciplines (dance, music, theater, visual arts, media arts), how many students participate, how many arts teachers provide instruction, who has access to arts education, and can be filtered by geographic location, demographic information, and date.

“Arts and music education are critical to development because they provide learners with a set of skills that lead to increased academic performance.” said the Minister of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin. “By using data to survey the arts landscape in Pennsylvania, we will be able to make more informed policy decisions, and school communities can use this information to consider how they provide arts education to their students.”

Funded by PDE, the Arts Dashboard is part of the National Arts Education Data Project (AEDP), a joint project between the State Education Agency for Arts Education (SEADAE) directors and its longtime partner Quadrant Research, the state education pioneer in Arts Data Reporting.

The goal of the project is for the data to be the catalyst to drive changes in arts education that will lead to increased participation for students across the country. In 2022, 67.3% of students in PA public, charter, and career and technical schools were enrolled in arts courses. Also in 2022, 89% of Pennsylvania public school students had access to an arts course, as 84% ​​of those schools offered arts instruction.

“I am proud to highlight the incredible value that music education plays in the lives of our students. Our district’s music program serves as a tool to promote creativity, discipline, and teamwork. Music has a positive impact on the overall development of our students.” said Dr. Tia Wanzo, superintendent of the McKeesport Area School District. “Our school’s band has been very successful in the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 competition seasons. We are incredibly proud of our group’s achievements. Music is a vital part of a well-rounded education, and the district is committed to continuing our support of music education in the schools.”

A study by the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California found that music education accelerates the development of auditory pathways and makes them more efficient, which helps language and reading skills. Music can also help improve school readiness skills, including intellectual and social-emotional processing, motor skills, language development, and overall literacy.

“Data drives decision-making and policy. Launching a statewide arts education data system allows us to better understand what access to music and arts education looks like in Pennsylvania.” said Mark Despotakis, director of public and government affairs, Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. “This data will only serve to strengthen our work to make sure every child in Pennsylvania has the chance to learn and grow through music and the arts.” The dashboard allows us to look at access through micro and macro lenses and we will be able to better understand where access gaps exist and why. This understanding will help make better decisions.”

In Pennsylvania, all students in grades K-12 must be provided instruction in the four arts disciplines: dance, music, theater, and visual arts. Dance training is a kinesthetic art form that satisfies the human need to respond to life experience through movement of the physical being; Music education is an auditory art form that satisfies the human need to respond to life experiences through singing, listening, and/or playing an instrument; Theater education is an interdisciplinary art form that satisfies the human need to express thoughts and feelings through written text, dramatic interpretation and multimedia production; and Visual arts education is a spatial art form that satisfies the human need to respond to life experience through images, structures, and tactile works. Local school districts are responsible for creating written curricula in all content areas.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please visit the website or follow PDE on Instagram, Facebook, TwitterYouTube or Pinterest.

MEDIA CONTACT: Taj Magruder, [email protected]

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