NEWTON, MA | November 13, 2003
Elementary schools in Conway and Manchester, New Hampshire and in Warwick, Rhode Island have been selected to implement SmART Schools, a program that supports making the arts a core academic subject in the school curriculum and strengthens the use of high-quality arts in other academic subjects. SmART Schools, based at Education Development Center, instruction in Newton, Mass., has garnered nationwide attention for its results in improving academic performance by expanding classroom focus on the arts.
SmART Schools, now in nine elementary and middle schools in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, will be expanded to six new schools with federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant, totaling approximately $275,000 per year for each of three years, will fund testing, refining, and documenting the SmART Schools program.
"In schools that have implemented this program, students have learned new ways to create, perform, and respond to the arts," said Program Director Eileen Mackin. "We’re thrilled to be able to replicate the program, and show students and teachers how academic performance can improve when dance, music, and drama are integrated throughout the curriculum," Mackin said.
An example of the SmART Schools approach can be seen in a fourth grade science lesson about molecules. Students studying liquid, gas, and solid molecules were asked to choreograph and perform movement pieces to demonstrate their knowledge of the ways in which molecules behave. "Students applied scientific principles to elements of movement in order to complete the task," says Mackin. "Using this approach, teachers are able to reach many different types of learners and as a result, when students are later tested, it is easier for them to recall new concepts they’ve learned — in this example, their bodies know the answers as well as their minds," Mackin said.
Studies show it’s working. According to a study conducted by Brown University, during the first two years of the program in Rhode Island, SmART schools showed an 8.9% average improvement in percentage of children achieving the high bar standard of the state testing in mathematics problem solving, compared to a 2.1% improvement in comparison schools.
SmART Schools has been recognized by the Arts Education Partnership and the Rhode Island Department of Education. Four of the five original pilot schools received Creative Ticket Awards from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Program supporters include the Rhode Island Foundation, the Jesse B. Cox Charitable Trusts, the Baker Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Schools participating in the SmART Schools program:
- Highland Goffe’s Falls (Manchester) Jim Paul (principal) 624-6334
- Beech Street School (Manchester) Eleanor Murphy (principal) 624-6314
- Pine Tree Elementary (Conway) Laura Jawitz (principal) 447-2882
- Conway Elementary (Conway) Linda Wise 447-3369 Brian Hastings (principal)
- John Greene School (Warwick) Bonnie Robinson (principal) 401-734-3440
- Oakland Beech School (Warwick) Cathy Davis-Hayes (contact) 401-734-3420