Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Mathematical Economics

Reader 1

Kerry Odell

Reader 2

Lisa Sullivan

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© 2016 Elizabeth K. Gile


Determining whether the arts are beneficial to a student’s education is a widely, and hotly debated topic every year in the United States, with many studies published each year demonstrating the impact that the arts have on various educational outcomes, from increased test scores to higher graduation rates. This paper examines previous research on the efficacy of incentives and how students’ participation in extracurricular activities, from sports to the arts, could impact graduation rates. It also develops a model for analyzing the present value of a high school education to a student using a discounted present value analysis and conducts an empirical analysis of 77 high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District over 4 different school years to determine a relationship between the number of art classes offered and graduation rates. The results of the analysis do not support the hypothesis that an increase in the number of art classes offered per student will increase graduation rates, and actually suggests the opposite.