City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools deepen engagement, improve access to arts education

The City of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools today announced the year two progress of their joint Creative Advantage arts education initiative. Arts integration and 21st Century Skill-development deepened in the Central Arts Pathway, and the South-Southwest Arts Pathway developed a long-term arts vision and plan for schools in the region.

The Creative Advantage is a unique public-private partnership between the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS), Seattle Public Schools (SPS), The Seattle Foundation, and community arts partners. It is reinvesting in Seattle’s students and our community’s economic and creative future by intentionally and collaboratively addressing inequities in access to the arts and restoring arts education to all Seattle classrooms.

“We must invest in our students, and arts education is integral to their ability to problem solve, collaborate, think outside of the box and persevere,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We are approaching our education system holistically from pre-K through 12th grade, utilizing the city’s rich cultural organizations to help empower our youth and close the opportunity gap in the arts.”

“We know students learn best when their education engages their heads, their hearts and their minds,” said Dr. Larry Nyland, Seattle Public Schools superintendent. “The Creative Advantage is a shining example of the district, the City and the community collaborating to give all students access to a well-rounded education.”

Arts are recognized as a core academic subject by the State of Washington and are included in the current Seattle Public Schools Strategic Plan. In alignment with these state and district policies, the goal of the Creative Advantage is to address the systemic barriers to student access to arts and ensure that every student has arts integrated into their education, starting in kindergarten. The long term goal is that all Seattle students will have access to a continuum of arts learning opportunities.

In March 2013, The Creative Advantage began implementation in the Central Arts Pathway, all schools that feed into and out of Washington Middle School. In 2014-15, The Creative Advantage began planning in the South-Southwest pathway, all schools that feed into and out of Denny International Middle School.

Highlights from the Creative Advantage Year Two Evaluation report include:

  • Developed a regional arts plan for South-Southwest Pathway schools.
  • Created a professional development series and annual institute for teaching artist and teachers with arts partner Seattle Art Museum.
  • In 2015-16, all K-5 students have access to music instruction in the Central Arts Pathway.
  • Increased the number of arts instructional minutes at the elementary level in the Central Arts Pathway by 200 percent from 2013 to 2015.
  • 26 residencies at 12 schools increasing student learning from teaching artists and arts organizations.
  • 34 percent increase from 2014 in student demonstration of 21st Century Learning Skills in Central Arts Pathway classrooms.
  • Increased partnerships with community organizations leading to culturally-responsive teaching and learning in Central Arts Pathway schools.

SPS and ARTS will continue to deepen integrated arts learning and close the access gap in the two Creative Advantage Arts Pathways, which includes 23 schools.

There is a Creative Advantage Advisory Group comprised of school staff, program leaders and community members to hold the program accountable and provide feedback. The City has prioritized this program through new staff capacity and an investment of $1.5 million in the program to date.

The School District has invested $1.75 million in increased staffing, supplies and professional development, while there has been increased capacity through fundraising from grants, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Laird Norton Family Foundation and the Clowes Fund, foundations and individuals to date.

To read the full report, click here: http://www.creativeadvantageseattle.org/go-deeper/

The Creative Advantage can be found online at www.CreativeAdvantageSeattle.org, at facebook.com/TheCreativeAdvantage and on twitter @SeattleArtsEd.