Music Enrollment in and Attitudes Towards K-12 Music Classes Literature Review

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Music Education

By any objective standard, K-12 public school music programs are in trouble. Due to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act that renewed the Elementary Education Act 1965 under then president George W. Bush, music programs are being cut due to an increased emphasis on core subjects. Also, music programs are perhaps seen as being less relevant today than they were in previous years and student opinions of music programs are dwindling constantly. The picture is grim and this results in a dichotomy in the dwindling support/interest in K-12 music programs and the overall positive attitudes people have towards music. In a review of the scholarly literature on K-12 public school programs, this author will focus on 3 essential themes as follows:

Trends in student enrollment in public school music programs (student enrollment is down as are programs).

No Child Left Behind and the impact on public school music programs (the angle here is that music programs are hurting b/c of the emphasis on "core curriculum" such as English, Math, Sciences.)

3) Student opinion on public school music programs (emphasis on negative opinions) vs. students/general population's overall attitudes towards music (emphasis on positive)Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Literature Review on Music Enrollment in and Attitudes Towards K-12 Music Classes Assignment

Some hope for the reconstitution of Music Education programs have been pegged on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization of 2011 by the administration of President Barack Obama passed on March 13, 2010. More than a year and a half since the passage of the reauthorization, the "jury" is still out so to speak as to the effect of the reauthorization on "non-core" programs such as music education. However, what is very disappointing to this author is the lack of any mention of music education in the materials on the Department of Education website concerning the new ESEA and the NCLB ("Elementary & secondary," 2011). However in a news release dated October 20, 2011, the information was that Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) led a move to pass a resolution in the Senate specifically recognizing afterschool programs. Sen. Boxer remarked that the "Afterschool programs keep our children safe and help them learn. In so many communities, afterschool programs are needed to give students access to physical education, arts, music and so many other enriching activities that are increasingly being cut from the school day." Sen. Collins seconded this by saying that "Afterschool programs can provide a safe and enriching environment for children after the school bell rings. They not only continue to engage young people in academic and physical activities, but they also provide a peace of mind to hard-working parents ("Afterschool alliance, policy," 2011)." However, this has where things have ended. The FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act was approved by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 67 to 32 on December 17, 2011 (ibid.). Obviously, the results will have to be researched in future inquiries.

Literature Review

1) Trends in Student Enrollment in Public School Music Programs

Dr. David Williams in an article in the Music Educator's Journal remarks about the increase in attention that has been focused on the subject of K-12 music education in the public schools. In the article, Dr. Williams laments what he feels is the failure of the National Standards for Music Education have been since 1994. As a music educator, he sees a major disconnect between public school teachers that are not teaching to the 1994 standards but instead are covering only the minimal standards mandated in federal regulations. While basic standards such as singing and performing are taught, creative aspects of the National Standards such as improvisation get short shrift. For instance, singing and instrumentation in one study received 40-50% of class time investment, 11% were dedicated to reading and notating music, while less than 7% of class time is being spent on any one of the National Standards (Williams, 2007, 19-20).

In an article in the journal Arts Education Policy Review, Cydney Spohn investigates the degenerated condition of the public school arts education programs under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act Further, Spohn obtains teachers' perspectives on their various experiences under NCLB. The author used both qualitative and quantitative approaches in order to conduct a case study of an Ohio public school district. The data collected further revealed changes in the music education curriculum. Teacher interviews provided the background in which changes occurred and also a more accurate representation of cuts in arts learning opportunities as well as challenges existing for arts education funding opportunities under NCLB. The available information illustrated how such administrative decisions were made to improve student test scores and accommodate mandated policies (Spohn, 2008, 3).

For the above reasons, a study by the Public Policy Institute of California launched an investigation into the issue of balancing issues such as academic finance, academic standards and the maintenance of the course curriculum. Even in an attempt to find this "balance," specialty arts teachers such as those in music programs do not have their own home rooms. Courses such as music are not considered to be the "core courses (Sonstelie, 2007, 13)." Given that the total expenditures of $6,000 per pupil, only $90 per pupil are allocated to the category of "other expenditures" (including music) (ibid., 42).

In a doctoral dissertation by Caron L. Collins she studied instrumental music education programs at the secondary Catholic schools in the United States. He results revealed that 88.9% of the parochial schools have instrumental music education programs. Forty-seven percent of these are located in the urban areas, forty-one percent in the suburban areas and twelve percent in the rural areas. Many secondary parochial school enrollments were small where forty-eight percent had less than 500 students, of which forty-nine percent were located in the urban areas, forty-two percent in suburban areas and seventy four percent in the rural areas. Many parochial high schools had small instrumental programs with 50 or less students participating in instrumental music programs. It was found that factors of school scheduling, administrative and parental support and feeder school instrumental programs affected the security and strength of the programs. Recommendations that were derived from the results included the development of stronger feeder school programs, promoting supportive parent booster groups, designing better school schedules and in increasing the administrative support through the provision of proper rehearsal facilities and the necessary equipment (Collins, 2007, 94).

2) NCLB and the Impact Upon Public school Music Programs

In a special publication of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform published in the Summer of 2009, the organization is advocating that federal attention to after-school music programs. Such programs would conceivably help to provide access to poor families in a more effective manner (Weiss, Little, Bouffard, Deschenes & Malone, 2009, 1-2) What are the core features of such a music educational system? Complementary learning is systemic and intentionally integrated with both in-school and out-of-school learning supports. While a number of stakeholders is involved, the local schools have the primary responsibility to organize these programs from a network of funding streams (some from the federal government). Therefore, the federal role is as an enabler of these educational programs (ibid., 35-36).

In a recent study in the Journal of Research in Music Education, secondary school music programs in the United States were profiled in order to investigate the principals' perceptions of those curricula under the NCLB Act. During the study, a survey form was sent out to some 1,000 secondary school principals thereby producing a fifty-four percent response rate. The form was designed to answer these questions: 1) What is the characteristic profile for secondary music programs in the United States? 2) How effectively do principals think that their music programs are in helping their students to attain specific learning outcomes as well as broad educational goals? To what degree do certain standard variables (e.g., standardized tests, teacher and parent interventions) impact upon a given secondary school musical program? Ninety-eight percent of respondents indicated that their schools offered music courses, yet thirty-four percent required music. There were many major significant differences in the diversity of course offerings based on school socioeconomic status profiles. Standardized tests and NCLB were thought to have the most negative impact upon music programs (Abril, 2008, 68).

The issue of after-school music programs was the subject of a Harvard Family Research Project report. It found that after-school music programs had a positive effect overall upon music education. A decade of research and evaluation studies, as well as large-scale, rigorously conducted syntheses looking across many research and evaluation studies. This confirms that children and youth that participate in after school programs reap a whole host of positive benefits that occur in a number of interrelated outcome areas, such as academic, prevention, socio-emotional and health and wellness areas. The Harvard Family Research Project has developed and maintains an intensive, accessible national database of after school music program evaluations, and this narrative review draws from that set, as well as from recent meta-analyses and syntheses of after school evaluations. Hundreds of after school evaluations have been conducted in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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