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Update to Action Alert: Support the Arts in ESSA Plan

Thank you to everyone who sent letters to the California Department of Education requesting the inclusion of language about the Visual and Performing Arts in the state plan to implement Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We have been in touch with the California Department of Education to raise our concerns about this issue and received the following response from Barbara Murchison, ESSA State Lead at the California Department of Education:

A Guide for Change








What if you could help students create change? And what if there was an established program and a guide to help you through the process step by step?

Each year, the California Alliance for Arts Education hosts a Student Voices Campaign (SVC) that empowers students to communicate their creativity and passion for the arts with their elected officials. Students take part in a video advocacy campaign that offers them a real-world 

opportunity to author content, communicate creatively and practice civic engagement. This year, hundreds of students in 7 California counties created 59 videos for submission to their local school board. Students submitted their vision for change ranging from the need for arts education and updated computers, to securing safe bathrooms for transgender youth. Take a look at some of last year's videos here.

California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) guarantees students a voice in planning and budgeting for their school district. SVC provides a pathway for students to realize the role envisioned for them in LCFF community engagement guidelines.

To help facilitate this as a learning tool, we’ve worked with the California Arts Council to create a Student Voices Campaign Teacher’s Guide to teach the Student Voices Campaign as a classroom based project. Last year, teachers in middle and high school classrooms across California piloted the use of the guide. 
As a result, a record number of students took part in the 2016 Student Voices Campaign (link: ttp://, generating persuasive two-minute videos that were sent to their respective local school boards, and impacting their district’s annual Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) planning process. The feedback were outstanding. 

Winning Student Voices Videos Announced at Summit

Statewide Advocacy Campaign Provided Opportunity for Student Input and Real Change
San Francisco, California (May 9, 2016) - Students today care about a lot of things, from the need for arts education and updated computers, to securing safe bathrooms for transgender youth.  The 3rd annual STUDENT VOICES CAMPAIGN, presented by the California Alliance for Arts Education, gave California students an opportunity to use video technology to communicate what matters to them and share their vision with their local school board. This year, one local school board listened and responded quickly, proving that student voices truly can create change.
Hundreds of students representing 7 California counties participated. 20 finalists were selected and the three top submissions were announced at the recent Student Voices Summit & Screening, held at the San Francisco Art Institute on April 30.
“The Student Voices Campaign is a creative way for young people to make their voices heard in their school district,” said California Alliance for Arts Education Director of Communications Sibyl O'Malley.


The California Alliance is hosting regional convenings planned to help California schools and districts understand the appropriate use of arts strategies within the Title I program.

In the coming months, we will travel to Sonoma, Los Angeles, Alameda, and Sacramento to share strategies for increasing student engagement, academic achievement, parent involvement and other Title 1 goals through the arts. School principals, district administrators, financial officers, school site council members and categorical funding experts are invited to attend and will receive information on best practices and research that can be used to support these efforts including a step-by-step walkthrough of how arts strategies can be included in a school site plan.

The scheduled convenings are the following:

  1. Alameda: Friday, April 25, 2014 1-3p.m., Alameda County Office of Education, 313 W. Winton Ave, room L2 Hayward, CA 94544 Register. Event Flyer. 
  2. Sacramento: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, Sacramento County Office of Education, 8:30 AM: Breakfast and Networking 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM: Meeting Register. 

* The admission to all the listed events is FREE

Arts Education and Title 1 Funding: What you can do

A primary mission of the California Alliance for Arts Education is to ensure that every student, not just those who are fortunate to live in affluent communities, receives the benefits of arts education as a component of a comprehensive high-quality education. This commitment led to our involvement in Title I funding for public education.

Decision on Dance and Theatre Credential Postponed

In late September, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) will hold its next meeting where it was expected to render a decision about whether to add a single subject credential for dance and theater. That decision has been delayed until the Commission’s December meeting. Although the state's education code requires instruction in four artistic disciplines, California is currently one of only a handful states that does not offer a credential for dance and theater teachers. In June, the California Alliance and other organizations supporting the new credential sent letters of support to the Commission. We will report back on the results of these efforts after the December meeting. 


Speak Up about How the Local Control Funding Formula Gets Implemented

Regional Meetings Held This & Next Week 

In June, California passed historic reforms to our school financing system. In the coming months, the State Board of Education (SBE) and California Department of Education (CDE) will be formulating how the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) will be implemented at the district level. Community and stakeholder engagement is critical to this process.
Speak up at regional meetings about the positive impact of the arts on students, especially high needs students. The SBE and CDE are holding a series of regional meetings to gather stakeholder input and ideas to inform implementation of LCFF. Sessions begin at 9:30 AM and end at or before noon at each location.

Advocates Make the Case for the Arts in New School Accountability Measures

In recent years, the Alliance has advocated to broaden the ways that school success is measured beyond standardized tests. Under No Child Left Behind, standardized tests are the only measure of achievement and are tied to high stakes accountability measures, giving schools an incentive to “teach to the test” and to ignore the broader spectrum of what it means to provide a complete education for the whole child. 

Those narrow test-related expectations fail to encompass the responsibility our public schools have to prepare students to meet the challenges and expectations of the workforce of the 21st century. As we have moved into an economy driven by ideas and innovation, our schools must respond by providing all our students with the opportunity to develop creative skills. For this reason, the Alliance has made this issue a priority in recent years, sponsoring legislation to create a Creativity Index for schools and most recently, mobilizing advocates to weigh in on new accountability measures being considered by the California Department of Education (CDE). 

U.S. Dept of Ed Says Arts Education belongs in Title 1 Program

On June 6, 2013, the California Alliance received a copy of a letter addressed to Title I State Coordinators from Dr. Monique Chism, Director, Student Achievement and School Accountability Programs at the Department of Education. In it, Dr. Chism addresses inquiries she's received about the role of arts education within the Title I, Part A program.  

The letter says it loud and clear: "Activities that support the arts, in conjunction with other activities, can form an important part of an LEA's Title I program." 

The California Alliance, with Arts for LA and others around the country, have asked for clarification and have encouraged the U.S. Department of Education to help clarify some of the confusion that exists around Title I programs that has prevented schools and districts from implementing arts education strategies to achieve Title I goals. 

The letter goes on to explain the specific requirements of Title I funding, that the "activities must help facilitate Title I's overall purpose of improving the achievement of students who are failing or most at risk of failing, to meet the academic content and achievement standards developed by the State, and that "using funds for arts education also must be consistent with other applicable requirements" that determine eligibility.

CTC considers Dance and Theater Credential

On June 13, 2013, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) heard a series of action items that included the Teacher Advisory Panel (TAP) recommendations on how to update and improve teacher preparation in California, one of which was for the creation of a single subject credential in the areas of theatre and dance. 
The TAP provided a strong rational for creating these new credentials including distinct subject-specific standards within the Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards, and highlighting the intentional differences between the VAPA Dance/Physical Education and VAPA Theatre/English Language Arts standards. 
Multiple documents supporting the TAP recommendation from state and national dance and theatre organizations were entered into evidence. Survey data from statewide survey on the TAP recommendations also indicated strong support for immediate action on the credential recommendation.  And numerous organizations sent letters of support, inclduing the California Alliance, urging their support for this simple and powerful step. It was an encouraging showing of support for the Theatre and Dance credential. The general agreement among the commissioners, the strong public support indicated by the survey responses, the national, state, and organizational support, especially that of CFT, all point to a positive outcome by the  Commission.
Further action may be taken on this issue when the CTC meets again in August.

According to the California Dance Education Association, without such credentials and adequate teacher prep programs in Dance and Theatre, California school districts “are hard-pressed to recruit, contract and retain” highly-qualified dance and theater teacher, and thus, “sustain robust Dance and Theatre programs and fully implement the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Framework and Standards for all students in all arts disciplines.” In an Op-Ed penned by  CREATE California legacy members Malissa Feruzzi-Shriver and Amy Shimshon-Santo, Ph.D., this change would “improve learning outcomes for California students, especially for the underprivileged,” whose “lack of access to instruction in arts . . . is exacerbated by unclear arts teacher preparation and certification pathways in higher education.”