by Tiffany Herleikson,

Budget pressures and a growing focus on testing reading and math have crowded the arts out of many schools. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is a big win for a well-rounded education for our children and music and the arts in our schools. The inclusion of music and arts in the bill signed by the President last December shows that Congress believes music is part of a “well-rounded” education. And it is.

Research shows the positive impact that music has on academic performance. In a study by the President’s Committee on Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), Reinvesting in Arts Education, Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education writes: “Education in the arts is more important than ever. In the global economy, creativity is essential. Today’s workers need more than just skills and knowledge to be productive and innovative participants.”

“Music is shown to be beneficial to students in four major categories: success in society, success in school, success in developing intelligence, and success in life.” , According to Ken Petress, PH.D in “Importance of Music Education”. And impressively, a study, Profile of College-Bound Seniors National Report, by the The College Board in 2006 shows that students with coursework in music performance scored an averaged 57 points higher on the verbal portion and 43 points higher on the math portion of the SAT. 100 points higher is a profound difference. That could be the difference on a college acceptance, which may impact a child’s future career and earning potential.

Study after study show that music develops parts of the brain involved in math and language, facilitates learning other subjects, and enhances skills that children use in other areas. And yet for decades music education has been relegated to a non-essential status in our schools. The new bill reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and replaces the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and the core curriculum with a well-rounded student education.

The law also protects students’ “music” and “arts” class time and provides new opportunities for music and arts education through formula funding grants. States receiving formula grants must use those funds to offer educational experiences, such as music, to under-represented, disadvantaged, or minority students. The bill specifically notes activities and programs in “music” and “arts” as appropriate uses of formula grants. This is great news for those in the music community.

Though many ESSA requirements do not take effect until the 2017-2018 school year, States and districts should begin engaging with stakeholders on how they will ultimately implement the new law.

NOVA Music Center continues to look for opportunities to work with local schools to promote the success of music programs in our schools, as well as draw attention to the importance that music has in the lives of those who wish to succeed academically.