Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Jennifer Ma

Reader 2

Roberto Pedace

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


Federal education policy in the United States emphasizes a system of test-based accountability, with standardized test scores in Mathematics and English Language Arts often being used as primary indicators for student and school success. Consequently, arts education often occupies a marginal position in public school curricula, as institutions are pressured to focus resources on subject areas valued in mandated standardized testing. Arts education advocacy efforts have focused on demonstrating the myriad benefits that participation in the arts has for students. Study 1 uses district-level data from the California Department of Education and the Arts Education Data Project to determine the effect of arts enrollment on high school graduation rates and college-going rates. A significant positive relationship was found between arts enrollment rates and high school graduation rates. A significant positive relationship was also found between arts enrollment rates and college-going rates, but only before controlling for district demographic variables. Study 2 proposes a longitudinal investigation into the relationship between arts education, social-emotional learning, and subsequent academic outcomes, following a cohort of students throughout grades 1 through 5. Students attending public school in Washington D.C., where arts education is not mandated at the elementary school level, will have the option to opt-in to an after-school arts education program. Teachers will assess their social-emotional development at the beginning and end of each academic year. Academic outcomes will be assessed using state standardized math and literacy scores. It is predicted that students participating in the arts education program will show greater improvements in social-emotional development and have higher test scores than students not receiving the arts intervention. This paper can be used to inform future arts education policy decisions at the local, state, and federal levels.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.