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Illinois Becomes the First State to Include the Arts as an Indicator of K-12 Success in School Accountability System

Illinois Becomes the First State to Include the Arts as an Indicator of K-12 Success in School Accountability System

Today Illinois made history, becoming the first state in the nation to include the arts as a distinct, weighted indicator of K-12 success in its school accountability system. The arts - dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts - now stand alongside subjects such as math and science in how the state measures the impact of every public school in Illinois.

"This decision is a monumental win for our children in Illinois," said Arts Alliance Illinois Executive Director, Claire Rice. "The arts teach students to think critically and solve problems creatively. Arts learning also enhances student engagement and helps with social and emotional development. The weighted arts indicator brings us one step closer to ensuring all students experience these benefits of arts education."

In its board meeting today, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) unanimously voted to approve State Superintendent Carmen Ayala's recommendation for the arts indicator in Illinois' Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan. Starting with the 2022-23 School Year, the indicator will equal 5% of every school's total score. It will consider student participation in arts courses, quality of instruction, and student voice.

Dr. Ayala's recommendation was based upon the innovative, data-informed proposal presented to the Board last year by the Illinois Arts Indicator Work Group. This statewide work group, co-chaired by Arts Alliance Illinois and Ingenuity, consisted of 27 members representing arts education organizations, teachers, administrators, and other key stakeholders.

Developed over the course of three years, the indicator affirms the arts as essential to student success and will incentivize schools to provide high-quality arts learning. It will also open the door to new support for arts education and lead to a greater data-based understanding of arts education in Illinois. In fact, the Work Group's Data & Research Team, led by Ingenuity, conducted the most extensive analysis to date of Illinois statewide arts education data.

The Board's decision follows years of collective organizing by arts education advocates across Illinois. The State Board received over 5,500 comments in support of the arts indicator and the work group's proposal over three years - more than the combined total of all other comments related to ESSA.

"I want to acknowledge all of the hard work of our partner Arts Alliance Illinois, the work group and thank all the ISBE board members and staff, especially Dr. Ayala, for their tireless efforts to include the weighted arts indicator," said Paul Sznewajs, Executive Director of Ingenuity. "The unprecedented action taken by ISBE will help drive progress towards equitable access to high-quality arts education for every student, in every grade, at every school in Illinois."

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