Partnership will support arts-integrated learning in pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms across the country

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Turnaround Arts and Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts announce a national partnership to support arts-integrated learning in early childhood classrooms across the country. Through in-class services for young children, ongoing training for educators, and resource development for the early childhood community at-large, the two organizations will work together to use the arts as a tool to improve student outcomes and school culture.

As a signature program of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, Turnaround Arts is a public-private partnership that uses arts education as a tool to help turn around America's lowest-performing schools. The partnership with Wolf Trap Foundation draws on the expertise of Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts (Wolf Trap Institute), a nationally recognized leader in early childhood arts-integrated learning and instruction, and positions Turnaround Arts for success as it expands its focus to include early childhood learning.

Turnaround Arts National Director Kathy Fletcher says, "Research shows that the arts are a highly effective learning tool, especially for high-risk students and for very young students. Yet research also shows that six million students across the country have no access to the arts. Wolf Trap and its Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts will not only help us close that opportunity gap, but will empower classroom teachers to use the arts in ways that are joyful and support critical thinking and creativity in some of our nation's youngest learners."

Arvind Manocha, president and CEO of Wolf Trap Foundation says, "Together, Wolf Trap Foundation and Turnaround Arts – both established leaders in arts education – will reach more children and more teachers in more classrooms around the nation. We are growing and strengthening a national network of skilled practitioners, and as a result, more young children will receive the academic and social benefits of an arts-integrated education. It is an honor to be selected as Turnaround Arts' early childhood arts-integration partner."

After an evaluation by Booz Allen Hamilton revealed Turnaround Arts' effectiveness in narrowing the achievement gap and improving school culture, the initiative expanded and now reaches more than 27,000 students from 49 schools having the greatest need in 14 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to providing in-depth resources to schools, as part of the program, the President's Committee has engaged dozens of "Turnaround Artists" – among the nation's top musicians, artists, and actors – who have "adopted" Turnaround schools and volunteered to work with students on their arts education curriculum.

In addition to its work in K-8 grades, Turnaround Arts recently announced a new focus on Early Childhood Learning. Funding for this critical initiative is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and will allow Turnaround Arts to provide specialized support and resources to Head Start and Pre-K through third-grade classrooms in Turnaround Arts schools. The Department of Education has a strong commitment to improve opportunities and outcomes in early childhood education and is pleased to be investing in supporting Turnaround Arts' new focus on early learning.

Wolf Trap Institute's role in the partnership includes ongoing training and consultancy to Turnaround Arts schools and staff nationwide. Wolf Trap Institute will provide in-depth professional development and in-class services ("Residencies") to 28 Turnaround Arts classrooms in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis, Des Moines, and California (city to be determined). Residencies bring professional performing artists – musicians, dancers, actors and puppeteers trained in the Wolf Trap model as Wolf Trap Teaching Artists – into Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms to provide direct, in-classroom services. Additionally, Wolf Trap Institute arts integration experts will collaborate with Turnaround Arts to develop a toolkit and other specially curated resources to be delivered through its online community of practice, education.wolftrap.org.

Akua Kouyate-Tate, Senior Director, Education, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts says, "Early childhood is the critical time for learning, and we know that children learn best by 'doing,' moving, playing and experiencing. The very skills young children need to succeed – problem-solving, creativity, collaboration – are intrinsic to arts-integrated learning. It is a great honor to join the Turnaround Arts coalition, and help bring arts-integrated learning to more high-needs preschools and Kindergartens."

About the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities

Created in 1982 under President Reagan, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. PCAH works directly with the three primary cultural agencies – the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services – as well as other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines, and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are education, cultural exchange and creative economy. Under the leadership of the First Lady and Honorary Chairman, and through the efforts of its federal and private members, the President's Committee has compiled an impressive legacy over its tenure, conducting major research and policy analysis, and catalyzing important federal cultural programs, both domestic and international.

About Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, produces and presents a full range of performance and education programs in the Greater Washington area, as well as nationally. Wolf Trap features three performance venues: the outdoor Filene Center and Children's Theatre-in-the-Woods, both located at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, and The Barns at Wolf Trap. Wolf Trap's education programs include Children's Theatre-in-the-Woods, a diverse array of arts education classes, grants, a nationally recognized internship program, and the nationally acclaimed Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts. Wolf Trap Institute has a 34-year history of providing educators with effective arts-based teaching strategies that engage young children in meaningful learning experiences. Wolf Trap Institute's core offerings include professional development and resources for early childhood educators, and in-class Residencies with professional Teaching Artists. Through its network of national affiliates, as well as consultancy to educators in the U.S. and abroad, Wolf Trap Institute provides services to more than 55,000 young children, their parents and educators each year.

Additional Background and Resources

  • More information about the Turnaround Arts program and profiles of selected schools can be found at turnaroundarts.pcah.gov.
  • More information about Wolf Trap Foundation's Education programs can be found at www.wolftrap.org/institute.
  • What is arts integration? Arts-integrated learning combines content and skills from the arts with core subjects such as language, literacy and math. For example, in a pre-Kindergarten classroom, a teacher might integrate mathematics and music by teaching number sense and steady beat together so that learning in one subject enhances learning in the other.
  • Numerous studies, including independent research of Wolf Trap's program model, show links between arts-integration, positive student outcomes, and the importance of early childhood education:
  • For research on Wolf Trap Institute's arts-integration model, and its link to student math achievement, see www.wolftrap.org/stemartsstudy and "Final Report: Findings from the Evaluation of the Wolf Trap Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant," Drs. Ludwig, M. & Song, M., American Institutes for Research, October 2014.
  • For research on arts teaching strategies, see: Catterall, Dumais, & Hampden-Thompson, 2012; Upitis & Smithrim, 2003; Wilcox, R.A., Bridges, S.L., & Montgomery, D., 2010.
  • For research on the link between school readiness and later school achievement, see: Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C.J., Classens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A.C., Klebanov, P., et al. (2007). "School readiness and later achievement," Developmental Psychology, 43, 1428-1446.

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Music and Math_321_credit Scott Suchman for Wolf Trap

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