Analyzing Program Strengths, Weaknesses, and Gaps

Once the data are collected and summarized, the Community Arts Team will review and analyze the information to gain a better understanding of strengths and gaps in instructional delivery and then begin to surface ideas relating to first action steps and priority areas. We offer two distinct tools for data analysis, either or both of which may be utilized, depending on the time available.

The following focused conversation leads the Community Arts Team through a series of questions, moving from the concrete and objective to the decisional levels. The format requires whole group participation.

Stage 2 FOCUSED CONVERSATION | Analyzing the Current District Arts Program


  • To more fully understand the current status of our district’s arts education program K-12 in preparation for strategic planning.
  • To generate excitement about what the needs are and that our Community Arts Team can create a plan to help meet them.


  • We have spent the past few months taking a careful inventory of the district’s existing arts education program. Now that we have this information it will allow us to move forward in drafting a plan for the future. Let’s take a moment and decide what the data are telling us.
  • First we’ll take a few minutes to review the data. Then we’ll discuss what we notice and our reactions to it, followed by a look at strengths, weaknesses, and gaps, and finally discuss how this informs our planning moving forward.
  • Facilitator: Use the questions below to guide the conversation. It is not necessary to ask every question, but it is recommended that they be asked in the sequence presented.


Objective Level: What is one thing that stands out for you?
What arts disciplines are being taught? Not being taught?
Is any written curriculum being used? If so, in which disciplines?
How much time is dedicated to arts instruction?
Who is teaching the arts? (Specialists, classroom teachers, teaching artists, etc.)
What could we tell the public about the arts instruction students receive?
Which community resources are used to complement classroom arts instruction?
Reflective Level:What was your first reaction to the data?
What are you proud of? What do you find inspiring?
Where do you feel disappointed? What are you concerned with?
Interpretive Level:What are our strengths?
What insights are you having regarding our arts program?
What appears to be a key issue, problem area, or gap that needs to be filled?
Decisional Level:What would we need to do in order to have a comprehensive arts curriculum for all students?
What action ideas or improvements has this data triggered for you?
What are our key recommendations?

Thank you for taking the time to collect and review this data. We now have a much clearer picture of our strengths and our needs for improvement, and we now see where to focus our efforts. This is an important beginning for our task force.

Stage 2 Activity: Data Analysis Cards

The Data Analysis Cards activity engages the Community Arts Team in small-group discussions about specific focus areas of the district arts program data, followed by reports to the whole group and further discussion.

Click here [PDF: 149KB] to access the Data Analysis Cards for this activity.

Advance Preparation
Prepare the sticky wall in advance with title cards for the Focus Areas placed horizontally across the top and Grade Levels vertically down the side.

Instructions for Use of the Data Analysis Cards

  • Photocopy the card template onto card stock or colored paper.
  • Cut the cards along the dotted lines. Distribute the cards to small groups. Groups may be divided by focus areas or by grade-level groups (e.g., elementary, middle and high school).
  • Assign one member of each group to be recording secretary. The recording secretary will be responsible for:

    - Charting the responses of the group on a flip chart (Strengths, Gaps, Recommendations)
    - Recording one Key Recommendation (per Focus Area or per grade level) on a half-sheet to post on the sticky wall.

  • Small groups work through the questions as they look at the data summary charts.
  • Small groups report out to the whole group, identifying strengths, gaps, and key recommendations and placing their half-sheets on the sticky wall in the appropriate focus areas.