Arts Corps Creative Schools Initiative: Liberating Academic Mindsets through Culturally-Responsive Arts Integration

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Team: Steven Holochwost and Dennie Palmer Wolf with Arts Corps Collaborators

The Creative Schools Initiative was a five-year federal grant to Arts Corps, Seattle from the AEMDD (Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination) program at the Department of Education. The project focused on integrating the arts, and particularly mindsets like persistence, belonging, and growth-orientation, into the middle grades classrooms. The goal was to help all students, particularly those who fall behind or are marginalized during their pre-high school years, to see themselves as capable and creative thinkers. Using strategies from the visual arts and theater, master teaching artists collaborated with classroom teachers on sustained projects at the intersection of academic and artistic learning. They worked with young people every semester of their middle school careers.

Using a collaborative and participatory evaluation model that included teaching artists as co-researchers,  the project demonstrated that high-quality, culturally-responsive arts integration, delivered over time: 

  • Improves classroom climates. 
  • Builds students’ academic mindsets. 
  • Results in rising academic achievement, as measured by state tests in mathematics and English language arts.

The impact of this intervention was especially strong for students with special education classifications, pointing to the power of arts integration to engage multiple ways of learning and knowing.

Read the full report.