How to Use Data in Arts Education Advocacy

The California Arts Education Data Project is powerful tool for anyone hoping to learn more about the access to and quality of arts education in their community. It was designed to help increase participation in arts education across the state. It was first piloted in New Jersey, where access to arts education has risen from 94% to 99.8%.

What information is included in the Data Project?

  • Participation rates for secondary school students in California
  • School-level, district, county and statewide data is displayed in an interactive, color-coded dashboard 

New this year:

  • Year-over-year comparison tools display changes in access over time
  • Arts participation of students enrolled in free and reduced lunch program shows how the socio-economic status of a school district impacts access to the arts 

How do I evaluate the data?

Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are the strengths of my district? What are the challenges?
  • How has access in the district changed over time? Is there improvement in access?
  • How does my district data compare to surrounding districts?
  • Where do I see inequities in access and participation?

What can I DO with this data?

Pat Wayne, Program Director of Create CA, wants advocates to know, “You don’t have to be an expert.” The first step is to start a conversation about the data. If you think of the conversation as a positive step towards more access to arts education—not a “gotcha” moment—the conversation will be much more productive. Think of the Data Project as a way to build relationships and open pathways to improving access and participation in your district.

Who should I speak to about the Data Project?

Possible conversation partners include:

  • PTA Council Member
  • Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator
  • Superintendent
  • School Board Member
  • Principal
  • A parent in a leadership role

What should we talk about?

  • Pull up the data from your district and look at it together
  • Suggest viewing a webinar together that gives an overview of the project and answers questions from participants
  • Recommend reading the California Arts Education Data Project: A Roadmap for School Districts which guides school districts through the process of examining their data to better understand their unique circumstances and challenges
  • If you don’t have all the answers (and you won’t!), offer to help connect them with Sibyl O’Malley, Senior Director of Advocacy and Communications at the California Alliance for Arts Education.

What happens next?

If you want to build an arts education advocacy team in your district, start an Arts Now Community! Our statewide network is composed of parents, teachers, artists, community groups, arts organizations and business leaders. Together, we are working to change policies, funding and accountability measures at the state and local level so that all California kids have access to arts education. Learn more.