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Eric.ed.gov – Everyday Arts for Special Education Impact Evaluation. District 75, New York City Department of Education

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The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of the Everyday Arts for Special Education (EASE) program on elementary special education students’ academic achievement (reading and math) and social-emotional learning. EASE was a 5-year program providing professional development and instruction in the arts in 10 New York City special education schools. The program served 300 teachers and 5,334 special education students over the 5 years. Through the program, special education teachers learned arts-based strategies to integrate into their instruction. The program included: (1) professional development workshops, (2) collaborative classroom modeling by teaching artists, (3) on-site professional development, (4) classroom instruction by special education teachers and visiting teaching artists. Impact was investigated through a quasi-experimental design, using the New York State Alternative Assessment (NYSAA) and the Student Annual Needs Determination Inventory (SANDI). The sample used to examine academic achievement included two cohorts of 4th grade students (2011-12 and 2012-13). Reading outcomes (NYSAA scores) were analyzed at the end of 5th grade (2013 and 2014 respectively). The sample used to examine social-emotional learning included two cohorts of students in 2nd-4th grade (2012-13, and 2013-14). Outcomes (SANDI scores) were analyzed at the end of 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, respectively (in spring 2014 and 2015). Analysis of the impact studies indicated a program effect on reading achievement and social-emotional learning. There was a substantively meaningful effect of the intervention on students’ reading skills (Effect Size = 0.42) as measured by NYSAA. There was a modest but significant effect on students’ SEL (Effect Size = 0.18) as measured by SANDI. Analysis of NYSAA math proficiency indicated indeterminate effects with no treatment-comparison difference (p = 0.97). A mixed-method study included weekly student assessment by participating teachers, structured observations, surveys, and interviews. The program was determined to have an effect on reading scores, social-emotional learning, communication and socialization skills, and teachers’ ability to implement arts-based teaching methods for students with varied disabilities. The study’s findings indicate that arts-based activities can support the engagement and academic achievement of students with disabilities, when classroom instruction is combined with comprehensive teacher professional development and consistent visits from experienced teaching artists. A supplemental table is appended.

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

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