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Study Says Kentucky Arts Education Access 'Meets or Exceeds' Region, But The Sample Size Is Question


A regional study says Kentucky public school students have more access to arts education programs than students in nine other southeastern states, but Kentucky Arts Council officials question the data used in the report.The report was released last month by South Arts, an organization that works to enhance the public value of arts in the South.About 27 percent of Kentucky's K-12 public schools responded—near the average for other states involved in the study (29 percent). Of those schools, the study said Kentucky schools provide access to arts classes “at a rate that meets or exceeds both regional and national averages.”Lori Meadows, executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council, said she's concerned that the study fails to highlight disparities among arts programming throughout Kentucky.“It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not an overall look at the state,” Meadows said.“It’s not that it’s not credible,” she said. “I think what we have is information about those schools that are really focusing and striving to integrate arts education.”Here's a breakdown of arts class availability in the responding Kentucky public schools:

  • Visual art classes are available in 87 percent
  • Dance classes available in 34 percent
  • Music in 93 percent
  • Theater in 30 percent
  • Creative writing in 33 percent. 

The study also said Kentucky public K-12 students are enrolled in arts classes “at a much higher rate” than the regional average.Here's a graph comparing those responding Kentucky schools' Arts education programs access to regional and national averages:

In many school districts, providing arts education is “very difficult” because of smaller budgets and a greater emphasis among educators on prepping students for the subjects on state accountability tests, Meadows said. Arts education is not being tested, she added.Despite her concerns with South Arts' study, Meadows said the council will study the results to determine best practices among top programs, and to help establish avenues to improve struggling programs.For more information regarding the study of Kentucky public schools' arts programs, gohere.  For information on the regional results, go here.

Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.