How Integrating Arts Into Other Subjects Makes Learning Come Alive
Before IAA became an arts-integrated magnet school, only 17 percent of its third-graders were proficient in math on the NECAP test, Vermont’s standardized test. After five years, 66 percent met and achieved the standards. The school still has high levels of poverty, although now that poverty is less concentrated, and there are still high numbers of English-language learners and non-English speaking families. Riley says referrals to the office are almost nonexistent during arts integration periods, and students and their families are more engaged with the school.
IAA is still a public school, but now parents from outside the North End can choose to send their kids there. “Parents are interested in the arts model, interested in a different approach,” Riley said. The first year most kids still came from the neighborhood, but gradually the socioeconomic levels have evened out. Wealthier families are choosing to send their kids to IAA because of its program. Riley says the majority of students still walk to school — it hasn’t lost its sense of place in the community — but now only about half the students qualify for lunch programs.